What is the difference between “Something that happens” and a “scene.”
Many submissions from both novelists and screenwriters are filled with “non-conflicted” writing, passages in which “something happens” that is filled with emotion, description, and symbolism in which no conflict happens to change the character(s) and forward the story, from a dramatic point of view.
In professional storytelling, drama is all that matters—not just in general, but in each and every scene.
The “scene” is the unit of drama. What makes a scene different from an event, or “something that happens,” is that in a scene a conflict is introduced and/or resolved. It’s that simple. A scene has a well-defined beginning, middle, and end; the beginning’s purpose is to “set up” the conflict, the middle works through the conflict’s components or obstacles, and the end “resolves” the conflict and/or, in some cases, introduces the next conflict.