This is an old blog that I started in 2006. I keep it because it has a lot of historical data and people still come here. As of September 2016, no new updates will be made here. All new blog posts and writing/publishing related news will be posted over on my new site at

Monday, January 19, 2009

Scene Setting Checklist for Fiction

By Jennifer Hudson Taylor

Regardless of what kind of novel you're writing there are several things a scene must accomplish and it should include specific elements. This checklist is designed to help you determine if a scene should be deleted, rewritten, or altered with deep edits. It helps you to step back and take a broad approach to viewing your scene more like an editor would. 

The Basics

  • Does the scene begin with a hook?

  • Is immediate point of view (POV) established?

  • Is the setting and location clear?

  • Does the description paint a vivid picture of what the POV character is seeing, hearing, touching, smelling?

  • Are the descriptions layered in the action of the scene rather than blocks of paragraphs?

  • Is dialogue present with action beats and clear indication of who is talking if multiple people are in the scene?

  • Does the scene end on a new hook?

  • Scene Accomplishments

  • Does your POV character have an objective?

  • Does your POV character experience an obstacle to achieving the objective?

  • Does the outcome at the end of the scene raise the stakes of the objective?

  • If the outcome accomplishes the objective, does the scene introduce a new objective before it ends?

  • Character Actions and Reactions

  • For every action that occurs, does the POV character first have an emotional reaction?

  • After the emotional reaction, does the POV character take action or make a decision?


    Hi Jennifer -

    Thanks for the helpful post. I'm enjoying your blog.

    Susan :)


    Thank you. I'm glad you are finding some useful information here.

    Thanks so much for the checklist! I'll keep a copy of it.

    And thank you so much for visiting my blog and for your encouraging words.

    Hi, I'm unfamiliar with any of your books. I knew I'd seen your name somewhere and then it dawned on me that it was on MaryLu Tyndall's blog, which I love!

    How come you don't feature cover pictures of your books? That would be a huge plus!

    Rose Mary,

    You are very welcome. I'm glad you felt encouraged. I hope the checklist will be helpful.


    Great question. My debut novel won't be released until May 2010. They are working on the cover now. As soon as it is available I'll post it.

    The working title is "Promised Blessings". It's a Scottish Medieval. Here's a short blurb:

    Bryce MacPhearson kidnaps Akira MacKenzie to honor a promise he's made to his dying father. While Akira's strength in the Lord becomes a witness to Bryce, a series of murders leaves a trail of unanswerd questions, confusion, and a legacy of hate between their families.

    Soon it becomes apparent that Akira's life is in danger. Bryce must look beyond his pain and seek the truth in his heart, while Akira must forgive, so that a simple promise can turn into God's bountiful blessings.

    I love MaryLu's books! She's a wonderful writer. I can't wait to read her new one, "The Red Siren".