The first draft
An idea stirs then turns into a more linear image in my mind with somewhat defined characters and conflicts and then a story is born. I write the bare bones of the story: main plot and characters. Once I have those things down, I go back and make sure I have enough meat, or vegetables, to entice the reader.
I go back to the beginning and begin the real work.
First, I begin to structure my chapters by asking:
Is there a clear purpose for the chapter? Is it being met?
In the scene I’m writing we meet the antagonist. There are certain elements that I need the reader to get from this chapter. I don’t want the reader to know who he is, so I use no names. I need to show the elements of the antagonist’s character traits through setting, his perceptions/thoughts, and actions.
Did I reach my word count goal for the chapter?
I usually fall short in this regard during the first round and build up as I go. Having a goal for the chapter helps me make sure I’m meeting all the other requirements to engage the reader. It’s easier for me to delete later, than to regain that mindset I needed to create the chapter.
Is there movement towards something in the scene (internal/external conflict)?
My antagonist is reflecting just before he does something horrific in this chapter. I need to make sure all this is real-time and not backstory. I also need to make sure the reader feels something by using concrete images and active writing.
Am I in the right place (setting)?
Setting creates mood. Have I put my character in the best place to highlight the attributes I need to show? Try taking him out of his comfort zone. Or put him somewhere comfortable and pull the rug out from under him. Either way works.
Am I in the right character’s head to meet the purpose of the chapter/scene?
Different POV’s give the reader a totally different perspective on the events around them. Make sure you are choosing the one that best fits the chapter/scene’s purpose.
Have I developed a sense of the character which meets the chapter objective?
Through everything mentioned above, have I led the reader where I want them to be at this moment?
Anything else you’d like to add?