The Eleven Point Checklist

Hold it. Before you write that scene
Have you included?

1. Time (a time boundary–the when)

2. Place (a place boundary–the where)

3. Light

4. Character An emotion boundary. (The scene=s own specific mood in the story)

5. Point of view. Give it to the person with the most interesting view. Keep it there unless somebody else has a better one. Then let us know your changing. Be able to tell yourself why.

6. Purpose Clash or conflict that keeps building actively as something happens

7. Taste. A primary, visceral sense. Give us something unexpected. The dry taste of dust. Saliva. Blood. Good bad and ugly.

8. Touch. Let your character interact with the world. As with all sensory details make them count. Stir a memory in the character, reveal plot information. The skin was too cold

9. Smell. The primitive sense, the most evocative. Have it send the character someplace in his mind. A favorite can be sexually evocative. Make cold sweat break out. Like the smell of raw meat, freshly butchered.

10. Sight. Our primary method of transferring info. Why does she notice something. Remember you don’t have to say, “She turned and saw.” If she’s the only one there all you have to do is say it.
“A man waved a bamboo fan in the corner.”

11. Hearing. Story with no sound track is dead. Let the sound come over the dialog. Evoke a sense of place. Wind chimes, cicadas. The insistent drone of a heavy diesel generator. The howling wolf, the guttural chuffing of a tiger.

Now, can you weave them together–make a thread that pulls us from one element to another that reveals these elements naturally, not like a laundry list?


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