Tag Archives: outlining a scene

Are you Asking Enough Questions about your Scenes?

 33 Key Questions to ask yourself When planning or writing Scenes that Work

Here is a checklist I put together for pre-planning and for double-checking my scenes to make them as effective as I can…

  1.  Have you made it as dramatic as possible, with no wasted words?
  2.  What type of scene is it?  Drama, Action, a beginning or ending scene?
  3.  When and where does it happen?
  4.  Point of View character: Whose eyes are we looking through?
  5.  What key piece of info does this scene provide for the reader?
  6.  What are the stakes?
  7.  How do you make them clear?
  8.  What will the reader root for?
  9.  What is your mission for this scene, its purpose, the scene question to be answered?
  10.  Which characters appear in the scene, and where is each at in his/her character arc?
  11.  Who’s the scene’s main charater?
  12.  Who are the minor/secondary characters in it?
  13.  How is character revealed—for each character that appears?
  14.  What does each character want?
  15.  What are the obstacles for each getting what she wants?
  16.  What is each feeling? The emotion?
  17.  What are the key expressions that show rather than tell–including body language, dialogue?
  18.  What plants should be included?  Hints at things to be further developed later on.
  19.  Are there any surprises, twists?
  20.  Where is the intensity in the scene?
  21.  Have you included suspense elements, tension, conflict?
  22. What themes are dramatized by this scene.
  23. Have you made all responses by the characters–each the result of an obvious stimulus?
  24. Have your written it moment by moment?  Don’t summarize!
  25. Have you avoided unnecessary descriptions of setting, place, character appearance, or other things? But included essential ones?
  26.  Is it outlined as well as a short story? With…
  27. A beginning at latest moment?  Without  skipping key info or dramatic potential?
  28.  An attention-grabber at the beginning?  Does your scene open with something clever, poignant, surprising, or intrinsically interesting?
  29.  Sometime that gets worse in the middle?
  30.  Built in anticipation for the reader. And when is that anticipation satisfied, at least partially.  What gets resolved?
  31.  A deliberate surprise?  If so, how have you set up the reader to make that moment as jarring as possible?
  32.  Is the scene’s end logical and does it include a disaster?  Or at least a twist or hook to keep your reader eager to rush to the next scene.
  33.  Have you read significant portions out loud?

Readers: Do you have any key scene questions to add?  Do you have questions? Post them here.

Further Reading:

Story Engineering, Mastering the 6 Core Competencies of Successful Writing by Larry Brooks

 Outlining your Novel, Map your Way to Success by K. M. Weiland

Make a Scene, Crafting a Powerful Story One Scene at a Time by Jordan E. Rosenfeld

http://www.advancedfictionwriting.com/art/scene.php  “Writing the Perfect Scene” –a free download by Randy Ingermanson.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Scene_(drama)

http://www.writingforward.com/news-announcements/guest-posts/how-to-create-effective-scenes-and-chapters-in-your-novel