At the end of January I made a quick list of the weapons I gather prior to starting a first draft. Today the focus is on scenes, because the plotter on me could not dive in without some preparation, at least.
Before I start that blog post (ah!), however, I'd like to point out that I am guest-posting on Tahereh Mafi's most awesome blog today. It's an incredible honour, and you should check it out! Especially since I rarely do 'funny' posts around here.
Now, to business! What do I need to know before I start a scene?
1) What is the conflict here?
Conflict is the driving strength behind a scene. Don't start before you know what your POV wants in this scene, and what stops him from getting it.
2) Who is your POV? Why?
I've blogged about the difficulties of choosing POVs in the past. Look for characters with high stakes, whether physical or emotional. Know your POV and know why he is the one narrating (even with a single POV story, you want to examine what your character brings to a scene that is unique).
3) How does this scene reflect the world?
I might care for this one a lot because I love worldbuilding, and enjoy watching details translate the world I created. Nevertheless, this is a worthwhile considerations even if your setting's a midwest town in the US. Every setting is unique. Not every scene will show it, but the more, the better!
4) Do you have HIP?
HIP in your scene is a concept taken from J.S. Bell's Plot and Structure book. In short: hook-intensity-prompt. Intensity is harder to think of in advance (it goes with conflict), but I like to have an idea of Hook and Prompt before I start.
5) What is the mission of this scene?
This one is from Larry Brooks, at storyfix. In a recent post he gave a small but solid advice: every scene should have a succint mission. (his words, not mine). What is the point of your scene? How does it move the novel forward? This is a great post to read, by the way.
So these are my basics. Also, wow, so many links!
If you are a Super-Plotter, I recommend you check out Margo's (from Urban Psychopomp) scene-building template. Tons of possible questions to ask yourself there!
Is there anything you think I missed? What do you always have at the ready before you start?