Tag Archives: writing fiction scenes

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.




Here’s one of the Best Books on Novel Writing and Structure

A review of Story Engineering by Larry Brooks. ISBN 1582979987

This book brings a clarity to the fiction writing process I have not found before. I have read a lot of excellent how-to-write-fiction books, at least over 30 and took thorough notes from most of them. I have also completed two lengthy  courses on fiction writing. Yet I found this text super-helpful.

The “Six Core Competencies” of story writing
That’s what Brooks calls the major topics of his book.  They are:

  • Concept
  • Character
  • Theme
  • Story Structure
  • Scene Execution and
  • Writing Voice

And he covers them all–and more–in only 278 pages. Good news, since most of us writers are already up to our eyebrows in reading material. Yet he does a thorough job of explaining his points.  Plenty clear enough to put them to work in your planning and writing right away.

This isn’t the only book you should read to perfect your fiction-writing skills, but it is really a good place to start!

Clear Guidelines are essential
All of us who write fiction, whether we are beginners or pros, whether we are striving to write the great American novel or just to get published, can benefit form insightful, well-written guidelines on how to go about it.  I, for one, need constant reminders of the many aspects of story-writing I want to keep in mind.  This book provides those guidelines.

A good story idea is not enough
I also need a game plan, a well-thought-out procedure for building that idea into the novel it can become.  I need to consider topics this book covers as I plan and organize my ideas.  Not formulas, but the big picture and what needs to go where and why. Formulas can be rigid. But the principles the author includes are flexible, and rather than inhibiting creativity, they encourage it.

Brooks provides this key information in detail with clear explanations, illustrations from contemporary novels, as well as rather amazing and entertaining analogies.

My favorite portions
The chapters on story structure and theme are among my favorites (although you couldn’t pry any part of the book away from me).

Get published sooner?
Would you like to publish a novel? Would you like to do that in a few years rather than ten or twenty? I cannot guarantee you’ll be published, of course. But assuming you have that potential, I think this book can hasten your victory.

P. S. If you haven’t visited Larry’s blog http://storyfix.com/ I recommend you check it out. I’ve read quite a lot of his posts, and each time I came away with something new or something that needed reminding.

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