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