C.L. Polk’s Scene Outlining Process

Bookmarked Scene Outlines, Explained in Great Detail by C.L. Polk (

A scene is a unit of dramatic action. Emphasis on drama.

If more than one person in the scene has POV rights, I choose to tell the scene from the perspective of the person

  1. who has the most at stake,
  2. who has to make a decision that will propel the story forward,
  3. Who is more likely to remember this moment when they look back on it in ten years.
  • POV Character
  • Setting Location
  • Scene Action
  • POV Character’s Goal – “I make sure there’s a nice active (transitive) verb in the sentence. Character wants to VERB (character, object, situation.)”
  • POVC’s Motivation – “You can and should say why until you get to the root of what your character needs, and what getting it will mean to them. It should be connected to your POV character’s story goal…”
  • POVC’s Emotion
  • Complications and Conflict
  • POVC’s emotional shift – what’s at stake if they fail?
  • POVC’s response to the Complication
  • Result

By Tracy Durnell

Writer and designer in the Seattle area. Freelance sustainability consultant. Reach me at She/her.

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