You’ve completed a first draft, you look at the mound of papers on your desk, and wonder what next.
How do you look at your draft with new eyes. There is a lot of advice about putting your novel in a drawer for a few weeks before looking at it again, sending it to others for a beta read, reading it aloud etc.
But what if you want to do something more practical and immediate?
For each scene ask yourself: WHAT IS THE POINT OF THIS SCENE?
Try not to answer in a generic way.
An easy answer is: Moves the story forward.
To me, that’s too general. How does the scene move the story forward? Be as specific as you can.
Ask yourself: Does the scene
- have an important revelation, clue or red herring?
- develop a character? To me this means, does the reader learn something new about a character that is important to a story?
- introduce a new character?
- show character motivation?
- give the reader a break after a high action scene?
- give the reader action after a break scene (sometimes called a sequel scene)?
- foreshadow, give backstory or contain an important flashback?
- develop setting that is important to the story and not just setting for the sake of describing something?
- close off loose ends?
- solve the crime?
If you can’t articulate the point of a scene, think about removing the scene.
If the point of the scene is weak, see if you can take what is important in a scene and move it to another scene. Then delete the weak scene.
I use a spreadsheet to keep track of each scene. One column is dedicated to the point of the scene. If a cell remains empty when I’ve reviewed the entire novel then the scene must go.
Please share any tips you can add in the comments below.
Thanks for reading…