Tag Archive - scene structure

3 Steps to Successfully Outlining Your Novel

Outlining your novel in some fashion is one of the best ways to ensure you have a solid story structure. For those of you who’ve been following my blog awhile, you know I’m a huge proponent of structure—and I’ll dare to say that any great writing instructor worth his or her salt would agree.

Because novels are so complex, it makes sense to lay out a blueprint. Face it: few people have the talent or aptitude to wing it when it comes to writing a solid story without first plotting carefully. And—I’m being honest here—every single successful author I personally know who “pantses” through the writing process suffers from varying degrees of frustration, aggravation, and huge blocks of wasted time.

Seriously. I know authors who write, and discard, numerous full drafts of a novel, taking months of precious time to arrive at the solid plot. I know other pantsers who say that writing novels is a painful, grueling process that they almost hate as much as chopped liver. Continue Reading…

6 Cinematic Techniques You Can Apply to Your Novel Right Now

Many of us were raised watching thousands of movies and television shows. The style, technique, and methods used in film and TV are so familiar to us, we process them comfortably. To some degree, we now expect these elements to appear in the novels we read—if not consciously, then subconsciously.

We know what makes a riveting scene in a movie, and what makes a boring one—at least viscerally. And though our tastes differ, certainly, for the most part we agree when a scene “works” or doesn’t. It either accomplishes what the writer or director has set out to do, or it flops.

As writers, we can learn from this visual storytelling; what makes a great movie can also strengthen a novel or short story. Much of the technique filmmakers use can be adapted to fiction writing. Continue Reading…

20 Key Scenes for Writers of Romance Novels

Last week we began a discussion on romance novel structure. While just about any story of any genre can work off the base of the ten key foundational scenes, from there, a whole lot of variety can take place.

My aim in this series is to throw ideas and examples at you, so you can see how to work both within and outside of this framework. Your premise and plot are going to be the big factor when it comes to determining what kinds of scenes are needed to layer over those initial ten.

It’s not just a matter of coming up with plot ideas and stuffing them into the framework, as if they were so much cotton batting going into a sofa. Every scene in a novel is hugely important and must serve a very specific purpose. I say this a lot, and I don’t think a whole lot of writers believe this. Their manuscripts are filled with nothing scenes about characters going nowhere and doing insignificant things (like talking about the weather over dinner).

Folks, that’s not why readers read books! They don’t want ordinary, mundane, boring. Yes, “on the nose” writing accurately portrays real life: believable conversations and activities real people engage in. But seriously, much of real life is (thankfully) boring and mundane. I say “thankfully” because we don’t (or shouldn’t) want the kind of drama in our lives each day that great writers subject great characters too. Continue Reading…

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