A month ago I wrote a post called Test That Scene – Is It Essential or Filler? The basics of it are this:
No Filler Test
Question #1 – If deleted, will the reader still be able to follow the story? If yes, you’ve got filler!
Question #2 – What is different by the end of this scene? If nothing, it’s filler!
Question #3 – What/Who does this scene affect? If nothing/nobody, it’s – you guessed it – filler!
If even one of these questions results in “filler”, the scene should be cut or revised. But how do you know which option to choose?
That’s the issue I’ve encountered as I write and revise the outline for my WIP. I never create totally inessential scenes, and if a scene is two-thirds of the way there (i.e. satisfies two of the three test questions), my instinct is to revise not cut. Sounds reasonable, right? Sure, but I found my story dragging anyway. If I’d revised them into fully fleshed-out essential scenes, why did they still feel like filler?