“A scene has to drive your plot forward. You may have written the most entertaining or poignant scene possible, but if it does not progress your story it will have to go – or be rewritten.” I believe this is a really tricky process for most writers. You could be writing a really special scene between two characters, but if it doesn’t influence the story, then it doesn’t matter. I have a really difficult time coping with this. Each part of my books is special and they matter to me, but I have to understand that it may not matter to the readers. Some parts I may need to rewrite to make more entertaining, or I need to delete them and move on. It always pains me when I highlight and delete something in my stories because I worked so hard to make that scene real. But even though it’s real to me, doesn’t mean it’s going to be real to the readers.
“Each scene should have something to say about your theme and reveal something about at least one character.” This is another part that comes as a struggle. Trying to make each scene reveal something within the story and about a character can be really difficult sometimes. If you’re writing a dark suspenseful story, this usually isn’t a problem because it keeps you on the edge of your seat the whole time. But if you’re writing a simple romance, or an inspirational story, then this can be a challenge. Making sure that different characters are brought forward, and making sure those characters influence overall outcome, is fun but tricky. You have to make sure you do it right. If you just throw a character – or an event – into a scene but you never see that character again throughout the entire book, then they must not have mattered that much. And if that’s the case, then you have to either add them into the rest of the story, or get rid of them completely.
“Above all, a scene should be used to build tension.” Each scene you write should be moving the plot forward. Each action that the characters do should lead to their next action, which should lead to the climax, and then there should be a resolution. If you just write what you think will work, it may not always work. Sometimes you have to plan out the story, and then follow the guidelines you’ve set for yourself. Most of the time when a writer gets writer’s block, it’s because that scene does not have a huge impact on the story line. So if this happens, you can either keep writing something you find boring until you get to a good part, or you can delete and start over. Sometimes, even though deleting your work can be emotional, it can be the best thing you can do. By deleting, you are able to get a clean slate and start again. That’s something that we as humans are not able to do, but our characters have that luxury, so start doing it.