Scene & Structure: A Class in How to Build Better Stories through Scene

Class runs Wednesday nights for six weeks, June 15th through July 13th,  with a final class on Aug. 3rd.  We will meet at the Phinney Neighborhood Center.  Please see details and registration information below.

Summer 2016 Writing Seminar: “Scene and Story Structure: How to build Better Stories Through Scene.”  Every scene has an event. Every scene-event has a function in the story. A strong story structure can be built around key scenes.


In movies, the story depends on the fact that actions cause reactions. Scenes are required to demonstrate both. Writers of narrative prose would do well to remember that most of the time it’s the best scenes that make a story memorable. Passages of narrative summary move the story along. Explorations of a character’s inner thoughts and subtext encourage us to care more, to invest more deeply in the story and its outcome. But it’s the scenes that command our attention.


According to Jack Bickham, the question every novelist should be asking is: “How can I make sure the reader isn’t getting bored?” The best way to be sure? Build the narrative structure around scenes. This six-week course will start with a review of how to write scenes that maximize their dramatic potential. The course will then look at how to use scenes to build a story into a compelling action-reaction sequence (a story in which “something happens”).

Each week the syllabus will include suggested writing assignments. Some will be drawn from What If (the 2010 Third Edition).  Everyone is invited to bring in one story or novel chapter for workshopping in the final two weeks.  There will be time for one or two pieces to be workshopped in each of the earlier weeks.


Required texts: 1) Night At The Fiestas,  a collection of stories by Kirstin Valdez Quade, Norton, 2015, ISBN: 9780393352214; 2) Ready Player One, a novel by Ernest Cline, Broadway Books, 2011, ISBN: 978-0-307-88744-3; 3) Best American Short Stories 2015; 4) Scene & Structure by Jack Bickham, Writers digest Books, 1993, ISBN: 9780898799064; and The Scene Book by Sandra Scofield, Penguin, 2007, ISBN: 978-0-14-303826-9.


Class meets: 6 Wednesdays, 7-9:30 p.m., June 15 through July 13; final class Aug. 3.


Where?: Phinney Neighborhood Center, 6532 Phinney Ave. N., Room 6, Building A (Blue Building upstairs).  Call (206) 783-2244 for directions.


Cost: $250


To reserve a spot in the Phinney Neighborhood Center summer course, please mail a deposit of $50 to Scott Driscoll, 7716 Dayton Ave. N., Seattle, WA 98103.  The deposit will be deducted from the course fee.  Early sign-up is encouraged.  Please send me an email at to confirm that you are planning to sign up.


Thanks.  Hope to see you this summer.  Scott