How Many Scenes Does Your Novel Need?

Nathan posted this question on my “Ask A Question For My Blog” page:

I’m following your Snowflake method for my novel, and while describing step 8, you mention that your spreadsheets usually have over 100 scenes. My spreadsheet, which is complete (with room for changes) has 62 scenes. Do you think that is too few for a novel to be complete? Is there an “average” number of scenes that a novel should include? Thank you!

Randy sez: I would guess the average number of scenes in a full-length novel is 80 to 100, but I’ve never tried to measure this average, so it’s just a guess.

62 scenes in a novel is fine. It’s far more important that each scene is GOOD than that it meet some arbitrary standard for length. Write a novel that works and don’t worry too much about numbers like these.

Now if your novel only had 12 scenes, I’d be worried, because then every scene would be 30 to 40 pages, and that’s just too long for the modern reader.

If you’ve got a question you’d like me to answer in public on this blog, hop on over to my “Ask A Question For My Blog” page and submit your question. I’ll answer them in the order they come in.

4 Comments

  1. Tami Meyers February 24, 2012 at 3:32 am #

    Hi Randy,

    Good to hear from you again. I just want to thank you for the great article in your August 2011 e-zine ‘Unlocking the Mighty MRU’. That explanation of MRU’s finally clicked with my brain and I could say “Yes! I think I’ve really got it!” (sorry I’m a few months late with the thank you note)

    You’re a great teacher and I’ve learned so much from your website, your e-zine and your blog, but I’ve felt so dumb because I just couldn’t grasp the MRU concept.

    It’s great to finally “get it”, so I’m sending you virtual (((hugs))).

    Tami

  2. Don February 24, 2012 at 10:15 am #

    Evan Marshall’s book on how to write a novel has a discussion about an appropriate (or typical) number of scenes. Part of his rationale involves the number of viewpoints presented. The more viewpoints, the more scenes will be needed. FWIW.

  3. Emilija February 26, 2012 at 9:40 am #

    My novels have about 60-70 scenes

  4. Simon June 18, 2012 at 11:18 am #

    What is the difference of scene and setting?

    and novel should be settled down a long series of scenes from begining until last without a breath?

    thanks…

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