When it comes to outlining your book or screenplay scenes, this template keeps things SSC—short, simple, and colourful
Image: Screenshot taken from Amazon Prime Video
Before I began penning my book, I had written a few screenplays on spec. While creating those works, I was completely oblivious to the importance of this pre-writing exercise (which does count as writing, BTW).
No wonder those pitches failed to find takers, despite the novelty they promised.
But when I dove into the book-writing process with P&V, I realised that I not only needed to gain clarity on where my 300-page manuscript was headed.
I also had to ensure a minimal amount of editing later on (which, BTW, never usually happens with your first book).
Yes, plotting is a painstaking process.
But it’s better to do this hard work now than slog at the editing table.
While plotting your story’s beats and character arcs is the first thing you should do, it’s also important that you know how to outline your book or screenplay scenes.
If you don’t, your scenes become bland affairs, minus the drama, conflict, and emotion that keep the reader or viewer hooked and engaged.
To spice up your scenes and give them the life they deserve, here’s a simple scene-plotting worksheet I’ve compiled that you can use immediately.
I also used this while structuring my detective-mystery WIP. The result: I *bragging alert* ended up adding more meat and layers to one of the show’s antagonists and amped up the conflict! Imagine the wonders such plotting and planning can do for your narrative and characters.
I’ve tried to make this sheet colourful enough to keep things interesting and inspiring. Download it, use it, and let me know in the comments how it pans out for you.
Here’s the JPEG version:
Main character (MC): The character in the scene with an arc. Not necessarily the same as the story’s MC. Also, specify the POV character, from whose point of view the scene unfolds.
MC’s goal: Where the MC wants to end up when the scene concludes.
Scene goal: Where the story makes the MC end up when the scene concludes.
Place: The setting where the scene happens. Specify whether it’s an interior or exterior environment.
Time: It could be morning, afternoon, evening, night, or simply day. Mention how much time has elapsed from the previous scene—whether it’s “moments later,” “continuous,” etc. In case it’s a flashback scene, mention the word “FLASHBACK” or “FB”.
Scene beginning: What the situation is and where the characters are at the start of the scene. Usually, the characters are doing their routine stuff or trying to achieve something.
Scene middle: What conflict or drama occurs that diverts the characters and story from the path they were headed. If it raises the stakes for the characters and disrupts and upends their lives, things get even more tense and nail-biting.
Scene end: Where the characters and situation end up when the scene concludes. The more this part deviates from the characters’ original plan, the more exciting things get.
Main character: A sailor on a ship. (Feel free to decide the name and gender.)
MC’s goal: To reach a particular destination.
Scene goal: To make the sailor head elsewhere, as the story requires them to be there for a larger purpose.
Place: Middle of the sea. (You can specify which sea it is as per your choice.)
Time: Night (or whenever).
Scene beginning: The sailor is excited about their trip to this destination and the good time they’re expecting to have there.
Scene middle: A violent storm erupts in the sea.
Scene end: The ship sinks, and the sailor is the only one who washes up on the shore of a nondescript island.
(Post backdated on Wed, 29 June 2022)