D’ja ever put someone’s blog in a folder somewhere on your computer to savor again? I do that all the time. I keep something from an author I admire, or something well said by a person I may not even know. I’m going back and re‑reading some of these now. Several years ago, Annette Lyon wrote a post headed “What’s the Point?” (Writing on the Wall from Precision Editing Group, Jan. 27, 2010) where she talked about sections in our writing that give meaningless details or discussions which, if deleted, weren’t even missed. That’s definitely still relevant today, and she offered six potential goals for a scene:
- Advance the plot
- Create or show conflict
- Set the setting
- Reveal character
- Show back story
- Lay groundwork for later plot
Today’s Prompt, should you choose to accept it, is to take 5 or 10 pages of your WIP (or new pages of something you’ve just begun). Identify which of the above goals are met in your story. Strengthen that asset in your story if you can. If none of the goals are met, cut the scene (or offending parts) and write a new one. (Warning: don’t overload by cramming too many of these goals, either, into one scene.)
YES! I DID IT! While the scene I chose to analyze did reveal some about the MC and gave a fair idea of setting, there was no back story or immediate conflict so the scene seemed flat. I need more PLOT, more Something Happening. I did one rewrite in first person, which kicked up the character a bit, but the same things were still missing. Back to the drawing board!
This isn’t a bad check, scene by scene, throughout the book. Try it on YOUR WIP and tell us what helped (or didn’t).
(Feel free to re‑use my prompts, modified to YOUR specifications ‑‑‑ I “stole” them too from Carol Lynch Williams, AnnDeeCanDee, Cheryl, The ABC Writers Guild and others . . . )