02 April 2013

How to Write a Great Scene

What are some steps a writer can take to create a good scene?

The first draft is about getting the story down on paper. As you write this first draft, you may find yourself more comfortable “telling” the story in narrative or internal monologue. Even so, every chance you can, attempt to write moment-by-moment scenes using movement and action to convey or “show” the story rather than simply “tell” the story.

The more you practice writing in scene, the easier and more automatic the task becomes to you. Read great stories and compare how much of the story is shown in scene versus told in narrative. Compare a chapter you have written to a chapter in your favorite story. What is the same? What is different?

When you have practiced writing scenes and want to evaluate them, track each scene or, at least, track the energetic markers and any other major turning points in your novel, memoir, screenplay. This shows you which plot elements are missing and which are in the scene in its current condition.

Seven Plotting Questions
For each scene, ask yourself the seven essential questions of plot:

1. Does the scene establish the date and setting?

2. How does it develop the character’s emotional makeup?

3. Is the scene driven by a specific character goal?

4. What dramatic action is shown?

5. How much conflict, tension, suspense, or curiosity is shown?

6. Does the character show emotional changes and reactions within the scene?

7. Does the scene reveal thematic significance to the overall story?

Evaluate the scene tracker for your strengths and weaknesses as a writer. If you find your scene tracker has lots of dramatic action filled with conflict, tension, and suspense and little character emotional development, plan in your rewrite to concentrate on developing your weakness.


Knowing what to write where in a story with a plot allows for a more loving relationship with your writing. Whether writing a first draft or revising, if you falter wondering what comes next in a story with a plot, follow the prompts inThe Plot Whisperer Book of Writing Prompts: Easy Exercises to Get You Writing

Today, I write.

To familiarize yourself with the basic plot terms used here and in the PW Book of Prompts:

1) Watch the plot playlists on the Plot Whisperer Youtube channel.

4) Visit: