A Quick 5-Point Checklist for Writing a Scene

(As taken from the blog of author Jody Hedlund)

Often people think that writing is an unattainable goal that they can’t reach, but you are able to reach your goal of writing. There are many articles out there that can help you reach your writing dreams and this is one of those articles as written by Jody Hedlund. This information is extremely helpful and I will definitely be using her advice on this. I decided not to change any of her writing inside of each point, otherwise it will just take away from the awesome message that she’s trying to get across. If you want to see her blog, you can click on her name or the picture below.

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1. Time and Date:

I always put the time and date of the scene at the top of each checklist. It helps me keep track of the pacing of the story while I’m writing it so that I don’t have half the book happening on one day and then rushing the rest of it.

It also helps me keep the timing of events realistic. Usually falling in love, character growth, and other plot events take time. From a glance at my checklists, I’m able to see that only two days have passed rather than two weeks (even though a lot has happened), and that my characters still need more time to get to know each other before falling in love or having their personal epiphanies.

2. POV (point of view): 

The next thing I write down under time and date is whose POV I’m writing the scene in. I always ask myself these kinds of questions: Whose POV would have the greatest impact for the scene? Whose POV haven’t I used lately? Whose POV can best move the plot along?

By keeping track of POV, I can easily see at a glance that I’ve had four scenes in a row in the heroine’s POV and that I’ve been neglecting the hero’s POV. Or if I don’t have enough reason to switch POV’s, then I have to start asking myself, why? Am I not giving each of my main character’s internal thoughts and character growth equal weight? Is one of their arc’s weaker? If so, what can I do to balance that out better?

3. Setting: 

After POV, I jot down where the setting of the scene takes place, sometimes with a brief description. Like POV, I try to alternate where I’m placing my characters as the scene unfolds.

While I often compare scene-writing to the a play unfolding on a stage, a theater production has a decided disadvantage in that it can’t constantly change scenes. Even with the recent Sound of Music theatrical production starring Carrie Underwood, the stage settings were limited to four or five main places.

In our stories, however, we’re not bound by financial or artistic constraints when deciding where to have our characters act out the scene. We can put them anywhere. We can add as much variety that we want. Rather than having half our scenes in the dining room or bedroom (yawn!), we can move them all over the place and make things interesting for our characters (and thus our readers).

4. Sensory Details: 

Once I figure out my POV character along with the setting, then I try to think about what sights, smells, tastes, textures, and sounds can bring the scene alive? What other details can help set the mood of the scene? I try to make those things unique to the particular setting as well as to the POV character who is acting out the scene.

5. Scene Goals: 

Finally, once I’ve established the scene basics, I move on to jotting a list of what story goals I hope to achieve in the scene.

We should be aiming to incorporate only those things into our stories that have a purpose, whether to move the plot along (related to the external, internal or romance plot), enhance our theme, build our characters, or foreshadow what’s to come.

As I sit down to do the actual writing, things often change, but the goals keep me on target. Whatever I don’t end up including in the scene, I circle so that I can try to remember to include those items later.

Like Jody says, writing these things down can help you put the enormity of the book in perspective. It can also help you keep on track which is really helpful when you get lost in your book and only surface when coffee or food calls your name (ha ha). I’m sure that Jody’s words of advice have been helpful to you because they have definitely been of help to me. Thank you for your lovely insight Jody.

That’s it from me for now…

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Enjoy the moments,

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