The penultimate prompt!
This is more of a revision process than a prompt, and you can use whatever scene you want–or all of them, because they all need what?
What’s your scene question? Often it’s the scene goal restated as a question with a yes or no answer.
For this exercise, you’ll follow a few steps:
First, go through your scene and identify where you clearly indicated for the reader, whether through implication or direct statement or otherwise, the scene’s driving question: Will Character ____? It should be as close to the beginning of the scene as possible so the reader can follow along. Highlight where this is done. You want to make sure it’s on the page, not just in your head.
Second, go to the end of the scene and identify where you clearly indicated for the reader the answer to that question. Highlight it. Make sure the answer is on the page.
Last, go through every beat in between the question and the answer and make sure that each one, in some way, speaks to the question. Usually this means that one character is trying to get the question answered literally, or get the question resolved with a yes while another character is trying to resolve the question with a no. Those no-pursuing characters may use distraction as a tactic, but in general, all the characters and beats should stay on point.
Doing this will tighten your scenes and help to ensure that they stay on track. A couple things to keep in mind:
Yes, you can add in color and characterization and stuff that isn’t strictly speaking to the question, but it should all still arise from the scene characters fulfilling their predominant task of speaking to, and ultimately yielding an answer for, the question.
Second, when the answer is given, the scene is done. So make sure that everything that comes after the answer is either part of a sequel, if you’re doing one, or its speaking to the new question in the next scene.
Scene revision is my favorite.
Book that inspired this prompt
The book cover link above is an Affiliate Link, which means I get a commission if you decide to make a purchase through this link, at no cost to you. In other words, if you’re thinking of buying a copy of this book for your home craft library anyway, buying said copy through this link is a no-brainer way to help support this site. And I appreciate it. Thank you!
That’s it for me!
What about you? How do you keep your scene’s tight? Tell us in the comments!
If you found this post helpful, please . . .
1. Like it and share it! There are share buttons below . . .
2. Subscribe to the Blog to receive the Tools in your inbox as soon as they post:
3. Subscribe to the Newsletter. It’s a monthly-to-quarterly-ish (that’s still vastly overstating it) newsletter to share news and free worksheets and whatnot. Your welcome email will include the 19-page Character Development Workbook. You can subscribe here.
4. And if you found it particularly helpful . . .
Also, people have been hiring me to review their loglines with the kind of analysis seen here and here, and I’m enjoying it. So, if you think your logline (or something else!) might benefit from a looksie and want to hire me to review it, email me at writeswithtools @ gmail dot com.