Worksheet #6 – The 5 Ws
Who, What, When, Where, Why – These are the building blocks of stories.
In journalism school, a reporter in training learns to identify these basics as a guide to what goes into a news or feature article. The 5 Ws are helpful to fiction writers as well, for the same reason: to make sure that everything that belongs in a scene is present, and anything that doesn’t belong in a scene is not.
In scene writing classes, I have student use the 5 Ws as a checklist. After you write a scene, run through the 5 Ws with this primary question in mind: Does this scene advance the story?
WHO is in the scene—and does each character present need to be there?
WHAT happens—and how does this scene lead to a next scene?
WHEN does this happen—in real time, as well as timeline?
WHERE does the scene take place—is there a significant meaning to the site of the scene?
WHY must this scene appear in the manuscript—will the story fall apart if it is cut?
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