Let's begin with a review of basic scene structure. Each scene is in itself a short story and contains three parts. The first part is the statement of a goal which needs to be immediate and definite. The second part is to immediately introduce and develop conflict to the goal. Finally at the end of the scene there should be a failure to reach the goal or a tactical disaster. Keep in mind that this disaster could appear to be a success for the character, but in the long run turns out to be a real problem. If your scene does not have these three things, cut it.
What?! No~ I love that scene, you think. Okay, so cut it and paste it into a separate file. Now read the scene before and after. What, if any, information was lost? Did the scene actually advance the over all plot? Or was it filler? If you decide you absolutely need the scene, it's time to work on it as an individual story. Work in your cut and pasted file. Cut out any sentences that don't immediately and definitively state the goal. Then cut the sentences that don't immediately introduce or develop a conflict to that goal. Finally, end with your disaster. The disaster can be personal or it can be external.
Read the scene again and ask yourself, does it add to the overall character goal? Does it strengthen the overall character conflict? Finally does it make sense in the over all story line and will it keep the reader turning pages?
All the pieces must mesh together. Never write a disaster only because you need to have a disaster at the end of a scene. I had a friend once who had her character slip on her doorstep and fall in the bushes, dropping her groceries. She got up, picked up her groceries and went inside. When I asked the writer why she had the character slip, she said, "There needs to be action in the beginning of the scene. This is my action." But her action had nothing to do with the overall story or characterization. Her character was not a klutz. No one saw her fall. She did not leave an important can of beans out in the bushes that she later needed to retrieve. Retrieving the can of beans did not lead to seeing a murder, or her friend's lover cheating.
Beware the action or conflict for the sake of action or conflict. Every piece must fit together like a puzzle or you will lose your reader's interest and your story won't be told.
Are you a scene person or a big picture person? Does being a scene person slow you down? As a big picture person do you skip the revision step of reviewing each scene with a critical eye?
I'd love to hear what you think. Cheers~