I think I mentioned this last week, but the Scene Breakdown Spreadsheet (hereafter referred to as the SBS because I don't want to keep typing that) is new to me as well. As in, I'm making my first one right now.
I made my SBS in an Excel spreadsheet. So far mine has two columns:
Of course, I only ever use one POV character. If you're working on a project with multiple POVs, you might benefit from having a column for that as well.
Here's what I typed in my "What happens" column: Madeline is eating with Brandi and Macy. They talk about what she can do to be taken more seriously. Jasper is there. Macy is surprised, but Madeline wonders if he followed them.
All you want is the essence of the scene.
Here are some benefits I see from making an SBS:
1. Helps identify plot problems. The synopsis can do that too, but of course this is much more detailed.
2. Can maximize writing time. It means less time sitting in front of your computer and thinking, "Okay ... so .... what should happen next...?" You can look at the chart.
3. It's a flexible way to plot. You decide 2/3 of the way through that a scene or two needs to be added? You can insert them super easy. Or if you have new thoughts about the ending, you can create an alternate ending in another column and get a feel for which you like better.
4. Gives you a clear goal when writing a scene. Nothing drags down a story more than scenes that go nowhere. Every scene should have a point, should be doing something. This is a great tool to help you accomplish that.
5. Makes room for life to get in the way. Two years ago, I was really in a writing groove. I'd written about 75% of my book and knew it would just be another week or two before I was typing, "The End." Then I came down with an evil head cold. There was even a trip to the ER via ambulance involved. I laid on the couch for a week and did nothing but read all 4 Twilight books.
Needless to say, I lost my groove. When I finally got back to my story, I was fuzzy on what was supposed to be happening next in the story, and my character suddenly talked a lot more like Bella Swan. Wound up taking me another month to finish my book. So aggravating.
While my breaks from my stories aren't always so dramatic, I often have to take a break at least once during the writing process. My publisher needs edits on a contracted book, or there's a death in the family. Having something like a scene chart can help bring me back to story world.
That's all for today! As always, if you have writing questions, shoot me an e-mail.