Lesson 3



The next thing we’re going to do now is ask one of those first big questions using the Socratic method, and that question is why is the scene important? Might not be something you would naturally think about, because if it weren’t important, why would you be writing it? But you really have to think about it from the reader’s perspective. And if you can’t answer the question of why this scene is important, the reader won’t care. Here are two ways you can sort of use a litmus test to find out if the scene is important. Number one is, does the scene reveal character? In other words, are you showing the reader something essential about one of your primary characters that they need to see to understand the story? If the answer is yes, then that scene is important, and that’s why.

Another way to approach it is does the scene move your plot forward? Now, if this were a single-scene short story, this question is somewhat irrelevant, but if you have more than one scene, you have to think about the progression of scenes that comprise your story, whether that’s 3 or 300, and the question has to be, is it moving the plot forward? A common phrase you might hear in the writing world quite a bit is a “shoe leather” scene. And that comes from this idea that if you write a scene where a character walks from one place to another, they’re using their shoe leather, but it doesn’t move the plot forward. When you’re asking yourself why is this scene important, think about does it reveal character or does it move the plot forward? And bonus points if you can do both.