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…
- Have you made it as dramatic as possible, with no wasted words?
- What type of scene is it? Drama, Action, a beginning or ending scene?
- When and where does it happen?
- Point of View character: Whose eyes are we looking through?
- What key piece of info does this scene provide for the reader?
- What are the stakes?
- How do you make them clear?
- What will the reader root for?
- What is your mission for this scene, its purpose, the scene question to be answered?
- Which characters appear in the scene, and where is each at in his/her character arc?
- Who’s the scene’s main charater?
- Who are the minor/secondary characters in it?
- How is character revealed—for each character that appears?
- What does each character want?
- What are the obstacles for each getting what she wants?
- What is each feeling? The emotion?
- What are the key expressions that show rather than tell–including body language, dialogue?
- What plants should be included? Hints at things to be further developed later on.
- Are there any surprises, twists?
- Where is the intensity in the scene?
- Have you included suspense elements, tension, conflict?
- What themes are dramatized by this scene.
- Have you made all responses by the characters–each the result of an obvious stimulus?
- Have your written it moment by moment? Don’t summarize!
- Have you avoided unnecessary descriptions of setting, place, character appearance, or other things? But included essential ones?
- Is it outlined as well as a short story? With…
- A beginning at latest moment? Without skipping key info or dramatic potential?
- An attention-grabber at the beginning? Does your scene open with something clever, poignant, surprising, or intrinsically interesting?
- Sometime that gets worse in the middle?
- Built in anticipation for the reader. And when is that anticipation satisfied, at least partially. What gets resolved?
- A deliberate surprise? If so, how have you set up the reader to make that moment as jarring as possible?
- 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.
- Have you read significant portions out loud?
Readers: Do you have any key scene questions to add? Do you have questions? Post them here.
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.