Marcia’s 10 Questions for Outlining a Scene

Use these 10 questions to plan, write, and/or revise your novel scene-by-scene!

  1. Where is the character (setting that anchors the character in a specific place and time)?
  2. Why is the character there?
  3. What does the character want (goal)?
  4. Why does the character believe he/she needs to achieve that goal (internal and/or external motivation based on a perceived ‘death stake’ of physical, professional, or psychological)?
  5. What stands in the character’s way (internal and/or external obstacles(s)?
  6. What does the character do about it (action)?
  7. What happens to keep the character from succeeding (disaster)?
  8. What dilemma results from the disaster that requires a decision for the character?
  9. What new situation arises from the decision of the character?
  10. How is this situation even worse than the situation at the beginning of the scene and how does the character think/feel about this new situation?
Marcia’s In-a-nutshell Scene Prompts

  1. What is the setting anchor?
  2. What is the character’s primary goal?
  3. What is the obstacle?
  4. What is the disaster?
  5. What new decision does the character make?
  6. What are the action and tension sources in the scene?
Marcia Thornton Jones/2016
Linked in: Marcia (Thornton) Jones
Facebook: Marcia Thornton Jones


  1. Great Marcia. I am going through some tough revisions on my WIP and this will help decide what to remove and what to leave for the rewrite. Thanks!

  2. I started doing pre-writing character sketches, and ask many of the same questions. SOOOO helpful!


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