Monday, March 30, 2015

Is this Scene Necessary? by Jill Kemerer

Jill Kemerer

Hey everyone, Annette here. Do you prefer writing or rewriting? When I'm working on my own projects, I refer writingthat gush of words pouring onto the screen. When it comes time to edit, here's some great advice from author Jill Kemerer for deciding what scenes to keep:

Is this Scene Necessary?
by Jill Kemerer

In spite of my best intentions when revising, I often get lost in the story and forget to ask key questions about a scene. Even if the scene is fun to read, I can usually give it more impact by stepping back and asking myself a series of questions. It takes more time to revise this way, but it’s worth it.

To determine if the scene is necessary, I analyze it based on the following:

1. Scene question: Is there a yes or no question being asked early in the scene? (Example: will Susie convince John to help his sister?)

2. Is there a clear progression that provides tension, keeping the reader turning the page? This can be done in several ways.

A. GMC (goal, motivation, conflict): Sometimes the character will have a scene goal. Show his motivation for obtaining it. Then present conflicts to prevent the character from getting it. As soon as the character either achieves or fails to achieve his goal, end the scene.
B. ARD (action, reaction, decision): Another option is to have something happen (action) that the character naturally reacts to. After this reaction, the character decides to do something about it. End the scene as soon as the character makes the decision.
C. Sequel. A sequel is a transition between action scenes. This is where the character experiences emotional fallout from the previous scene, reflects on what just happened, and makes a goal-oriented decision forward.

If you can’t find a clear scene question in the first three paragraphs, look for a scene goal. If you can’t find a scene goal, try to find an action, reaction, or decision. If these aren’t obvious either, the scene isn’t furthering the plot. This doesn’t necessarily mean you need to cut the scene. Brainstorm ways to add a story question, GMC, or ARD.

By taking extra time and asking these questions, you’ll make sure every scene in your novel is not only necessary, but vital.

What is your best revising tip?

Thanks so much for hosting me today!

Great having you, Jill!


Jill Kemerer writes inspirational romance novels with love, humor, and faith. A full time writer and homemaker, she relies on coffee and chocolate to keep up with her kids’ busy schedules.

Besides spoiling her mini-dachshund, Jill adores magazines, M&MS, fluffy animals, and long nature walks. She resides in Ohio with her husband and two children.  Jill loves connecting with readers, so please visit her website and find her on Facebook and Twitter.

Small-Town Bachelor

Small-Town Bachelor

A Place to Call Home
When Reed Hamilton arrives in Lake Endwell for a family wedding, he expects to do his part as best man then head back to the big city. But when a tornado postpones the wedding, the town is in shambles and Reed is injured. Thankfully maid of honor Claire Sheffield offers him one of her cottages to recuperate in.

Dedicated to her family and her dream job at the zoo, Claire is all about roots. She's this city slicker's opposite, yet as they help the town rebuild, Reed is captivated by her stunning looks and caring ways. He can't ask Claire to leave the life she loves for him, but he also can't imagine ever leaving her behind…

Interested in buying Small-Town Bachelor? Click on for links to purchase!


  1. Annette, thank you so much for inviting me today! I'd love to hear your tips on making sure your scene is necessary!

    1. Great post, Jill! Your tips are thorough and super helpful. I'm with you. I like to determine if a scene moves the story forward. Does it fit with the existing threads, or create new ones? Beyond your awesome list of reasons to keep a scene, are there necessary reveals about character or plot? Also, my writing group watches for scene arcs as well--with rising action and perhaps a bit of resolution, plus end-of-chapter hookouts. Thanks again for visiting today!

  2. I love your point about developing the characters through reveals. So important to keep their conflicts multi-dimensional and growing! Thank you!!

  3. Jill - thanks for the reminder to see if the scene is necessary. Sometimes it is hard to make those cuts, but the end result is worth it.

    1. It is always hard to make cuts! But I cut a lot when revising. :)

  4. Hi Jill, what a great post. More writers, and even editors, need to read this and be reminded. As a reader, I more and more find myself skipping scenes that have no real purpose. I think they're there just to fill a word count. Sheesh. Thanks for the reminder.

    1. Tanya, my first drafts often lack clear scene goals! Ack! I make a point to check each scene when revising. :)


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