Here are some questions to ask yourself when writing a scene. Chances are, some improvement can be made to your scenes. For me, I can usually read through a chapter I’ve written out loud and hear a disconnect. Possibly, it is the way I started the scene or an awkward feeling in the middle of the chapter. Ending the scene is never the problem for me. I find the start of the chapter or the middle of the chapter presents the most problems. The questions are listed below.

  • Is the story moving a little too slowly, and do I need to speed things up? (Use dialogue.)
  • Is it time to give the reader some background on the characters so they’re more sympathetic? (Use narrative, dialogue or a combination of the two.)
  • Do I have too many dialogue scenes in a row? (Use action or narrative.)
  • Are my characters constantly confiding in others about things they should only be pondering in their minds? (Use narrative.)
  • Likewise, are my characters alone in their heads when my characters in conversation would be more effective and lively? (Use dialogue.)
  • Is my story top-heavy in any way at all—too much dialogue, too much narrative or too much action? (Insert more of the elements that are missing.)
  • Are my characters providing too many background details as they’re talking to each other?
  • (Use narrative.)

Whether you are using dialogue, action or narrative to move the story forward, any three of these elements are doing double duty by revealing our characters’ motives. Dialogue can reveal motive in a way that’s natural and authentic.

And to understand a character’s motive is to understand the character.