FranklyWrite

Practice Writing

Very often a writer can feel a scene is not working, but can’t figure out why. This checklist can identify the problem.

What is a Scene?

A scene is a continuous sequence of action in a book, play, movie or short story. It is the building block of a play or movie and is the parts of a chapter in a novel or short story. If one is not working, it can be detrimental to the entire piece.

Think about the scene in question and go through the following list. You will find the problem.

Scene Checklist

  1. What are the previous circumstance? What happened just before the scene that the audience or reader didn’t see?
  2. Is the scene a pressure cooker situation?
  3. Are the characters in different feeling states?
  4. What breaks the routine?
  5. What do the characters want in the scene?
  6. List the ways each character goes about getting what they want. Do the change throughout the scene? The should. (Tactics)
  7. Surface action. What are the characters physically doing?
  8. What do the characters have to lose? (Determines stakes.)
  9. Is there a clear line of action that leads to a culminating event?
  10. What obstacles are in the way? They should be concrete — how does audience know who wins?

About the checklist

I created this list to help critique scenes in writers’ workshops, but it acts like a diagnostic checklist often finding the strange noise by number five.

Number three has been the most useful for me. It is funny how many good writers don’t realize they have two characters in a scene in the same feeling state agreeing with each other. I do this all the time in my rough drafts.

Need More Information?

If you would like more information about any of these points, please let me know in the comments.

4 thoughts on “Scene Not Working? These 10 Questions Will Fix It.

  1. Kelli says:

    Yes, Yes and more Yes. Thank you! I’m gonna print that list out and slap it on my board. Great way to help focus in on what is and isn’t working.

    Like

    1. CynFranks says:

      Thank you! I have found it useful through years.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. jabrush1213 says:

    A checklist of questions, never thought of that before.

    Like

    1. CynFranks says:

      I love questions!

      Liked by 1 person

Let me know in the comments below.

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: