Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Scene Craft Checklist For Meticulous Writers

Hi all! I'm offering this to members just as a little tip sheet. I refer to it when I double check myself to make sure my scenes are strong. Hope you find it helpful too!

This article is also available at e-zine articles (an article database) if you'd like to use it!

Scene Craft Checklist: Below is a checklist to help writers craft stronger scenes in their fiction or nonfiction (novels, memoirs, short stories, essays, or other creative prose).

  • Does the scene begin on a strong note?
  • Does your scene have a strong setting that supports the action? Do the characters interact meaningfully with the setting?
  • Do you use the five senses to drive home the physical details of the scene and make it come alive?
  • Does the description convey the mood via focus and language choice? Is the mood consistent with the action?
  • Is there strong characterization through present action, with only the most necessary backstory?
  • Are the characters doing something to move the action forward in the narrative present?
  • Is the point of view carefully controlled and consistent-no "head-hopping"?
  • If there are POV changes, is the reader prepared for such shifts with scene breaks or other devices?
  • Is there emphasis on action over summary?
  • Is the dialogue believable? Does each character speak in a unique voice? Is there a good balance of dialogue, internal monologue, description, and summary?
  • Does the scene have one main plot point? Is that plot point moved forward successfully and clearly?
  • Are minor plot points kept to a minimum?
  • Is the scene focused (have you taken pains to make sure that description, dialogue, setting, characterization, summary, and all other elements don't veer off course away from the main plot)?
  • Does the resolution reinforce the mood? Does the resolution of the scene imply further action; Does this scene lead into another scene in order to keep the action moving forward?
  • Does the scene raise questions, deepen conflict, or otherwise lead by pointing to a forthcoming scene? Is your scene "undeletable" so that if you took it out, the whole plot would crumble?
  • Does the scene end on a strong note?
  • Do a visual check. If the scene is strong, you'll have a balance of "white space" and "gray space" with a variety of dialogue, description, and plenty of paragraph breaks-all of which should be visible to a reader who is just skimming the pages
Happy writing!

Lisa Dale


Dawn Marie Hamilton said...

Hi, Lisa. Thanks for sharing your checklist. :)

Lee Lopez said...

Great list of questions!!

Shoshana said...

>> Does the resolution reinforce the mood? Does the resolution of the scene imply further action; Does this scene lead into another scene in order to keep the action moving forward?

I love this one--it's definitely going on my mental checklist.


What a great way to make sure each chapter propels the story forward and keeps the reader turning the page! Thanks for sharing.

Jill James said...

Wow! Great checklist. Thanks Lisa.

Anonymous said...

Genial dispatch and this post helped me alot in my college assignement. Thank you for your information.

Paisley Kirkpatrick said...

I admire those who can make lists and stick to them. Lists aren't my strong point, but I can see how helpful your items can be to make the story stronger and flow better. Thanks for sharing.

Clarissa Southwick said...

Thanks for this wonderful checklist. I'll be sure to use it before I send out my next submission.

Joan Leacott said...

Hey Lisa, Did you use this list to make "Simple Wishes" such a wonderful read? I'm copying this list and using it faithfully.

B. A. Binns said...

I love this checklist. Thank you.

Joanne said...

Beautifully written, Lisa. Thanks so much for posting, as this checklist is so helpful.