This series focusses on the exercises in our Write This Now tool. Each exercise presents you with a set of prompts designed to help you address a writing problem like planning a scene, or getting to to the heart of a character. Once finished, you can copy a formatted version of any exercise you take to your clipboard. This time, we look at the Scene Questions.
These questions are designed to help you define the essence of a scene you are writing or rewriting.
They ask you to consider the function and structure of the scene, the event, the emotional pulse. Some of these are worth looking at in a little more detail.
Function: the purpose of the scene in the wider work. Why is it playing out in the narrative at all? Does it develop the plot? In what way? Is there a turning point? Is there a moment of recognition? A revelation? Or is character developed? If you can’t answer this question, perhaps the scene would work better as summary.
Event: The sum of the scene’s actions. This is the thing that happens and that matters.
Pulse: The emotional drive of the scene – the need that propels action. It should typically rise and build.
Focal moment: The point at which everything changes in a scene
Imagery: Where language and the senses intersect. What sights and sounds and smells characterise the scene? How do they add to the scene’s impact? How can they make its language richer?
Incidental action: Although a scene should remain focussed, there is room for incident. These can take the form of random seeming intrusions into the scene’s flow. Or you can use incidental action to add interest to what would otherwise be a static dialogue (think about the famous West Wing walk-and-talks
See The Scene Book by Sandra Scofield for deep analysis and many examples.