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Patricia Kay’s Scene Checklist

harried mother Patricia Kay’s Scene Checklist

Questions to ask yourself about your scenes:  Is there a clear scene goal?  Does the point-of-view character want something or want to accomplish something during the scene? 

Is the point of view clear?  Would the scene be more interesting and/or dramatic if another point-of-view character had been used instead? 

If this is your opening scene, have you oriented the reader quickly so she won’t be confused?  Are the five Ws covered?   (Who?  What?  When?  Where?  Why?) 

Is there enough conflict in the scene, either external or internal or both? 

Have you clearly used the principle of action/reaction and cause/effect?  Remember that all the character’s actions should be clearly motivated. 

Is the dialogue crisp, natural, and to the point?  Have you used action verbs?  Is it clear at all times who is speaking?  Do pronouns refer back to the person to whom they’re supposed to refer?   [Hint: read your dialogue aloud – it may surprise you.] 

Is there an effective balance of action, dialogue, and narration? (always keeping in mind the scene goal!)  Are needless words omitted? 

Does the scene flow?  Is it easy to read? 

Does the scene move the story forward?  Reveal some new facet of personality or motivation or conflict or plot that the reader didn’t know before?  Is it filled with too much internal thought – thought that could be moved to the sequel? 

If this scene was removed from the book, would it make a difference?  If not, the scene isn’t really necessary and you need to re-think it. 

Does the scene fulfill the purpose you envisioned? 

Will the reader feel what you wanted him to feel when he reads the scene?  Look at your word choices, the tone, the setting, the way the characters behave toward one another – are these elements in emotional harmony with the world you wanted to create in the scene? 

Is your theme/themes strengthened or reinforced in the scene? 

Does the scene end with a dramatic hook/disaster, story question, or reverse disaster?

Copyright 2014 Patricia A. Kay

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