So yesterday I took the kids for a bike ride. My 7-year-old son on his own bike, and my 3-year-old daughter on the baby seat on the back of my bike. Riding along, my daughter says to me, "Mommy, you have a big bottom."
"Thanks, Sweetheart," I say. "You have a little bottom."
And, really, I think she did mean it as a compliment.
So in my revision planning process, I've added two new line items to each scene. Yes, I do write up each scene before the first draft, and now again in the revision stage. First draft stage it's mainly a "what happens" kind of thing.
But now as I'm going back and refining it, I've added two new line items:
1) Reason for the scene - There has to be a compelling reason to have this scene in the book. Actually there needs to be more than one compelling reason. Don't they say each scene should do at least two things. So for each scene, make sure it has a reason to exist. We've all heard this before, but when you go through and list them out, it definitely makes you think.
2) External conflict - What external forces can be introduced to complicate the scene? These can be things as simple as a thunderstorm outside when two characters are out for a walk to more interesting forces like crazed seagulls attacking girls sunbathing on the beach and trying to steal their Pringles.
I do want to note I've read books where the external forces are way overdone, and mostly these are adult novels or other books I feel are working hard to increase word count. Every time the MC needs to go to the bathroom, they shouldn't have a fight. Seriously, cut them a little bit of slack every once in a while or the external forces will look too forced.