Before reading this post, be sure to read:
…to find out what we’ve already done.
This next is the hardest part for me: Track each scene into the next appearance of its characters.
Whatever was happening to your protagonist or antagonist or confidant in his last appearance will affect his next. So, you have to reflect it in his thoughts, actions.
When I start a new scene, I go back to the last appearance of each character–no matter how minor. It’s easy to do in Excel with the columns I set up for ‘main character’ and ‘supporting characters’. I reread the scene, decide what he’d be thinking later about the events, how they would shape his actions or emotions, and make sure I represent that in his next appearance. If I’ve written a good scene, the readers will remember my character’s trauma and expect it to shape his future. I need to give them that.
I find this difficult–keeping all those balls in the air, remembering each characters actions and emotions, representing them correctly later. I put myself in their head, then go from there. Normally, you only do that for a POV character, but I do it for each one so I make sure to represent the correct facial movements and body tension for what is going on inside his/her brain.
Boy does that slow me down! And requires lots of concentration. But the results are worth it. When I read through my subsequent scenes, they are realistic, believable and more exciting than what I used to do before I discovered this approach.
Try it and tell me what you think.