Monday, December 12, 2011

Revision Tip: Scenes as Building Blocks

For the month of December, I really need to concentrate on my novel revisions. So instead of my usual Marvelous Middle Grade Monday and ABCs of Writing Middle Grade Fiction I'll be posting short revision tips from various sources.

Today's Tip:

Each scene is a step towards the final big event that happens at the end of the story.

Can you tell I’ve been learning from The Plot Whisperer? One of the things I do as I revise is to check my story, scene by scene, to make sure each scene has a purpose.

I also think about the characters in each scene, what their goals are for that scene and how the scene contributes to their overall goal. I’ve been noticing some interesting ways my character’s goals interact, leading to scenes that have more than one purpose in the story. Watch for:

- scenes with no apparent purpose:  they need to be cut or amped up (even if the writing is amazing)

- scenes where too much is happening: sometimes they need to be broken up

- scenes that repeat in terms of the pattern of events or structure 

Cool Quote:

 “…it wasn’t until I learned to see scenes on a micro level—as needing goals, obstacles and turning points of their own—that I became a publishable writer.”

 Lena Coakley,Some Thoughts on Scene Structure, posted on her blog November 30, 2011.


  1. I've had to cut many a scene where I love it but it wouldn't be missed. So hard to do!

  2. This one of those things I know, but I haven't sat down to go through my ms scene by scene to analyze it. I think it's time to do that! :)

  3. Alison, it's a lot of work, but I think it's worth it.

  4. THat's a very cool quote - so true! I'm learning to devote a round of revisions just to this purpose :)

  5. Excellent point. Such a good reminder. I love your blog because you always give such great advice!

  6. I am going to use what you've said to help me structure the picture book I'm writing. Each spread has to move the story along. Thanks, Andrea.


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