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What are the main types in which a scene can be classified, and what are the key concepts for each type?
I am thinking something along the following (guessing the descriptions):

  • suspense - scene builds up to and ends with a situation where the protagonist is facing some dire threat that seems insurmountable
  • romantic - scene plays with love/hate ambivalence in some fashion
  • mystery - scene describes an activity, happening or situation that provides clues &/ red-herrings towards solving some puzzle (may be coupled with suspense?)
  • action - real-time blow-by-blow description of cause & effect / chain of events
  • adventure - ?(not sure if this belongs here - this seems more a genre-type created by a collection of scenes?)
  • ...?...

Knowing the type & definition of a scene will enable me to make use of the tried & tested techniques and key concepts to produce 'correct' material for the type.

[edit]

This question is in the same direction as mine, with very good answers.

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Are you asking about genres for genre fiction, or more along the lines of the basic sets of plots? –  justkt Dec 6 '10 at 13:23
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I'm new, still feeling my way & a bit shy to just up & do-it; as with the suspense-example, I want some info on how to identify from the trend of a scene what it's type is, and what a norm/definition for the type could be that would be readily understood. I know the types can be mixed in a novel, e.g. having a romance in an adventure, so I guess I'm more focussed on scene-level than genre-types like horror or science-fiction or fantasy. –  slashmais Dec 6 '10 at 14:25
    
Honestly I have no idea what you are asking. Could you elaborate more, or show with an example what you mean? I know genre types like science-fiction and horror. If you read a lot of science-fiction, you already know, how to identify it. If you do not read horror, you do not need to identify it, because you will never be a good horror writer anyway. I have no idea what scene-level types should are? –  John Smithers Dec 6 '10 at 15:31
    
@John Smithers: How do you know when you read a scene that it depicts a romance or an adventure, or a mix of these, or some other recognizable type of activity or situation? That is what I want to know: what type of scene and why(description/reason) it is that type. –  slashmais Dec 6 '10 at 16:56
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2 Answers

up vote 6 down vote accepted

Though the question title mentions scene level, the start of the question is about fiction categories. To flesh out the list of categories in the original question, Laura Whitcomb, in Your First Novel, mentions these categories of fiction:

  • Armchair Mystery - general mystery, but with less sex and violence and milder language
  • Chick-Lit - not a traditional romance, but often centered on love and sex
  • Children's - target ages of seven to twelve years old
  • Erotica - explicit sex
  • Fantasy - Worlds other than our own, often involving wizardry and/or fantastic beasts
  • Historical Romance - non-contemporary, prehistory to early twentieth century
  • Horror - supernatural or real, antagonist terrorizes other characters
  • Legal Thriller - plot centers around a trial
  • Literary - writing viewed as more sophisticated, Pulitzer Prize level
  • Mainstream - crossed out of a genre into popular readership
  • Military Thriller - action, adventure, suspense set in military life
  • Mystery - centers on solving a crime
  • Romance - centers on relationship of two people who fall in love
  • Science Fiction - set in future reality, includes technology
  • Suspense - suspenseful drama with dark threat
  • Western - non-contemporary adventure in the American West
  • Young Adult - readers grade seven through twelve

I recommend reading the book for a bit more detail on these categories and much other good advice. I mention this list because I am currently reading this on my Kindle and happened upon this section not too long ago.

Re: individual scene typing within a genre category

As a reader, I have never considered the specific type of a scene separate from the genre of the work. I asked my wife about this and she has never thought this way either. It is much more important that a scene fit the characters and story as a whole regardless of type. For example, just because two people in love are having a dialog doesn't mean that scene has to follow a traditional romance scene formula if the overall genre is something else. Let the actions of the characters determine individual scene direction instead of trying to fit them into set formulaic molds.

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+1 for your last paragraph. I do not know, if your bullet list has something to do with this question. I'm still figuring that out ... –  John Smithers Dec 6 '10 at 20:42
    
Thanks. I edited to add a final sentence to that paragraph. The bullet list is to fill out the list items of the original question and the question marks beside some of those items. –  Tim Butterfield Dec 6 '10 at 20:51
    
Don't bother. I cannot upvote it again ;) –  John Smithers Dec 6 '10 at 21:00
    
I edited again to clarify use of the bullet list so others will not have to read our comments to figure it out. ;) –  Tim Butterfield Dec 6 '10 at 21:07
    
while I think & research your answer, just a comment: explicit sex = pornography; as Terry Pratchett puts it: the difference between them is like using a feather instead of the whole chicken ;) –  slashmais Dec 7 '10 at 6:27
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Mary lowered her eyes. Should she really look up again. She wasn‘t sure. Was she prepared for that? Her heart pulsed like crazy. She had to do it. Now! Or it would be too late. With all the braveness she has left, she looked up. And there she still saw it: His bright smile, his warmful eyes. Yes, he was looking at her. The best day of her life!

Mary lowered her eyes. Should she really look up again. She wasn‘t sure. Was she prepared for that? Her heart pulsed like crazy. She had to do it. Now! Or it would be too late. With all the braveness she has left, she looked up. And there she still saw it: The glowing eyes in the darkness just beyond the door. She was paralyzed. She had to close that door. But woud that save her?

Mary lowered her eyes. Should she really look up again. She wasn‘t sure. Was she prepared for that? Her heart pulsed like crazy. She had to do it. Now! Or it would be too late. With all the braveness she has left, she looked up. And there she still saw it: The bright red light beam. Her grandpa told her, she should just jump into it, as soon as she sees it. It would bring her to unknown places, wonderful, undescribable. It would be the best trip of her life. She was born to do that, he said. But she was afraid. The light was flickering. She jumped.

Ok, I just have written that down in fifteen minutes, so bear with me. I did this mainly for clarification. I hope you find out easily, which of these paragraphs is what kind of "genre". Do you now what to know, how you recognise that, or what wording do you have to use, how you can accomplish that?

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I've tried to clarify my question; purpose is to identify the tools/techniques available, if any.. –  slashmais Dec 7 '10 at 7:20
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