One of the best ways to know whether or not your scene is meant for your story is to consider whether or not it’s doing Double Duty.
Double Duty is the concept that every scene needs to be doing at least 2 of the following 3 thing:
1. Furthering the Plot
2. Furthering the Character’s arc
3. Establishing Something (Theme, Setting, New Characters, etc)
If you have a scene that’s doing only one of these things (or worse! none of them!), then that scene needs to be rewritten. Either:
· Combine it with another scene
· Summarize the main action (usually to show the passage of time)
· Delete it entirely
This is a very easy way to see if your scene has gotten off-track. After all, sometimes we write scenes that are good for the author to know, but really aren’t needed for the reader.
My classic example of that is the time I wrote a scene where a character goes into excruciating detail on how he had done the estate planning for his death. In a YA novel. For teens. Who do not care about that sort of thing. That scene didn’t do anything, much less manage to pull Double Duty.
Needless to say, I cut it!
And you can do that too. Just ask yourself, is this doing Double Duty and if it’s not, eliminate your extra, unneeded scenes and your readers will be much more engaged in your story.