EDITING: Scenes

Functions of Scenes

  1. Move story forward
  2. Reveal character
  3. Reveal backstory
  4. Foreshadow the future
  5. Add description, ambiance and tone
  6. Provide action

General

  1. Have as many of the five senses as possible been used in each scene?
  2. Is each scene told from the best possible Point Of View?
  3. Does each scene perform at least three of the scene functions?
  4. Is there a good balance between dialogue, narrative, backstory, and action?
  5. Does each scene have a beginning, a middle, and an end?
  6. Is it clear at the beginning of each scene what the character’s goal is for the scene?
  7. Does the ending of each scene relate to the scene goal?
  8. Are there too many scenes alike?
  9. Are the scenes fresh and not relying on clichéd romantic moments?
  10. Does each scene hold the reader’s interest?
  11. Is there conflict in the scene, something emotional that forces a character to take action or make a decision?
  12. Have all weak scenes been eliminated?
  13. Is any necessary information missing from the scenes?
  14. Are there missing scenes?
  15. Are the scenes in the right place in the story line?
  16. Can a scene be made stronger by adding dialogue or action?
  17. Can a scene be made stronger by removing unnecessary dialogue or action?
  18. Is too much time spent moving the characters around from location to location?

Story Movement

  1. Does each scene move the story forward?
  2. Are things within the story moving too quickly or too slowly?
  3. Is each scene the best possible choice to express conflict, character development, and motivation at that point in the story?
  4. Does the cliffhanger ending of one scene (or chapter) lead to the sequel (starling opening) of the next scene/chapter?
  5. Are there abrupt endings of scenes and flat openings of the next scene?
  6. Do the subplot lines not directly advance the main plot?

The Smarts

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This website is the work of Starla Criser, an author who has published more than 50 stories, both traditionally and through self-publishing routes.