Tuesday, July 22, 2014

My Scene Worksheet

I thought this round of edits would go quickly. Not so. Instead I realized I needed to dig deeper before continuing. I'm getting closer to the point where I will sit down and go chapter by chapter and revise the heck out of everything. And hopefully it will be ready for beta readers at that point.

One of the things I have done is create a couple worksheets based on information I've picked up here and there and tweaked to suit my needs. I thought I'd go through what I use and upload my worksheet in case anyone wants to use my version. But if you are like me, you'll print it out, find it doesn't fit, and alter it. That's pretty much my experience every single time I find a great worksheet or new information.

I list the best and worst possible scene outcomes. This helps me to keep my story from working out absolutely perfect for my protagonist. I don't want her getting exactly what she wants every time. And if you subscribe to certain schools of thought you probably want to veer closer to the worst possible outcome. As an added bonus I am forced to rethink the scene. What could happen. What should happen. A lot of what ifs pop up when answering this.

Next I look at the mood of the scene. It should ideally change from beginning to end, scene by scene. By defining this I'm also locking myself into how I need to look at the chapter when revising. I want to make sure that I'm hitting those moods correctly. Mostly this helps keep me on track.

Then I define the scene driver at the beginning and ending of the scene. Someone or something has to drive the scene. If I can't define the scene driver, then I need to look at the scene more and see if it's really necessary to the plot. There must be someone or something driving the story forward.

Now I get to the good stuff. The stakes. My protagonist must have something at stake. Not only do I look at my protagonists stakes, I also look to the other characters in this scene. What are their stakes? I write all of this here.

Every scene needs a turning point. Some place where information or circumstances change some aspect of the game for my protagonist. I force myself to define this point, and during revisions I'll make sure this turning point is clear.

A result of that turning point is that new obstacles arise. I list these for each of the characters in my scene. There must be something new that my characters understand, want, or need. Knowing this helps me to figure out why this scene is necessary and what I need to fix within it, and the upcoming scenes.

And finally, I've added a behind the scenes section. I had to do this for my current manuscript. I am writing it from one POV, but I know things are going  on with the other characters. Things that I need to keep straight in my head. Things that don't fit on my little calendar I've created to keep track of the scenes and chapters on. And things characters not involved in that scene are doing. So I added this section as a bonus for organization.

Feel free to print or download a copy of this worksheet for your own use. Or pick and choose what you want to use and create your own.

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