Revising: A Scene by Scene Checklist

Pad of Paper & PenWith my draft 98% complete, I’ll soon be entering the sacred revision zone with my latest work-in-process.  (Hallelujah!)  My first read through will be to take out the sucky parts. The second pass will be to address stuff that’s missing. I’ll make  notes on open threads and check them off as I address them.  Step #3 is the final scene checklist.  I’m sure other authors have different lists, and my checklist differs depending on the particular difficulties I experienced during the writing process. I usually start with general concepts and progress to the more nitpicky stuff.

Scene Checklist SHE CAN HIDE:

  • Can I identify the scene goals? Have I met them? If no to either of these questions, do I really need this scene?
  • Is the tension working the way it should?
  • Is the POV (character point-of-view) clear and consistent? (I added the definition here because when I received notes back on my first ever contest submission, POV was noted all over it. I had no idea what POV meant.)
  • Who is in the scene? Have I lost anyone? Where is the dog?
  • Emotion, there should be some.
  • Are the beginning and ending hooks strong enough?
  • Eliminate repetitive and/or boring prose.
  • Are my characters repeating the same physical movements. Seriously, I read a progression of scenes recently in which my characters just stood in doorways through the whole thing.
  • Is the scene rooted in place, time, weather, etc.

Does anyone else have any items I missed?

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One response to “Revising: A Scene by Scene Checklist

  1. I’m currently revising my novel and my two big ones arising consistently are my need to kill the passive voice and the creepy tendency my characters have to always laugh. And let me say this, it’s not a funny novel!

    I read a great bit of advice once that said to delete the words “hand” and “hands” from your novel. It’s surprisingly useful!

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