The Innovative, Intuitive Way to Organize Your Novel’s Scenes

If you write novels, you know how hard it is to do. You have to pull all your ideas, your scenes, your characters, and your themes together into a coherent, solid story. And while there are lots of books and blogs that teach novel writing, none take this innovative, practical step-by-step approach.

I’m thrilled to announce the release of my latest writing craft book, Layer Your Novel.

I say “thrilled” because this one was not just a long time in coming but is also, I feel, one of the most helpful books on crafting a novel that you’ll come across.

I don’t say this to brag—honestly!

Everything I write in my blog, newsletter, and writing craft books is a compilation of decades of learning AND frustration.

My biggest motivation for putting millions of words into these channels is to help YOU love your writing journey. But how can you love it if you are continually confused, frustrated, and unsure how to plot your course?

No Fun Getting Lost

Ever gone hiking deep into the mountains with a map, only to find the trails marked incorrectly or not at all?

The most nerve-wracking experience I had backpacking was in a southern Oregon wilderness. I trekked into this area with my trusty map but soon found I was truly lost. And I was miles in.

Trails and old roads were mismarked, and the map was wrong. Water sources were few. On the last day, I spent 14 hours with more than 4,000 feet of elevation changes before I finally found my way out to the parking lot . . . and my truck was gone.

I’d come out some other place, and, again, the book that describing the parking areas was wrong. After hours of exhausting hiking, I spent another two hours walking up and down paved roads that were unmarked, trying to find my truck. I’d run out of water hours earlier, and my dog was so distressed, she wolfed down berries I found just to quench her thirst.

Finally, at dusk, I found my truck. Had the maps been accurate, I wouldn’t have gone through such fear and anguish. I wouldn’t have spent those extra hours climbing peaks and descending into valleys that led me in wrong directions.

So I can REALLY relate to this feeling of frustration and uncertainty when it comes to trying to navigate a CLEAR path from point A to point Z.

This is why I say, again, that I am THRILLED to release this new book.

I’ve been writing novels and teaching novel structure for many years, but I’ve shied away from delving deep into what scenes should come where in a novel.

Why? Because there are countless books and blog posts that cover story structure, and a lot of great ones too, so, I figured, why should I add my two cents to the mix?

But the longer I thought about it, the more I realized I have some unique approaches and twists to the age-old question: “How do I write a great novel?”

The simple answer: by layering scenes—that’s how.

I searched through titles and descriptions of dozens of writing craft books specific to structuring novels, and it hit me. None of these books talk about layering.

And I’ll tell you why that confused me: layering is the most logical and intuitive way to structure a great story.

That’s how I write all my novels. And the process isn’t hard.

Creating Order out of Chaos

Novels are made up of scenes. Lots of scenes. And you have to figure out where to put what scenes for best effect. In addition, you need to know if you have enough scenes or too many scenes. And every scene has to serve a clear purpose to advance the story and not bore your readers.

I wholly believe this technique, out of all the ones I’ve used over thirty years, is THE BEST and most intuitive.

Layer Your Novel packs a punch. It breaks structure down to the basics: the one-sentence story concept, the 5 major turning points, the ten key scenes . . . and goes deep.

The concept is simple: you start with those ten key scenes, then once they are in place, you create the next layer of ten scenes—not randomly but with a specific focus—to build on that initial framework. And then you build the next layer . . .

I’ll share more about the book later. But for now, I just want you to think how easy it is to get to your destination when you have an accurate, clear, and helpful map.

I wish I’d had a reliable map when I was trying to get through that confusing terrain in Oregon. I’m glad I made it out alive.

Attempting to write a novel probably won’t ever be life-threatening, but it can be a harrowing experience that makes you want to throw your computer out the window and hide under your covers. It doesn’t have to be.

Layer Your Novel is now available for presale! You can purchase the ebook now at the discounted rate of $2.99 (that price is only good for presale and day of release). The print book should be also available on September 15, release date. Note: you cannot order the print version as a preorder—only the ebook.


And then get prepared for an entirely new and innovative way to organize your scenes!

Have you been using my Ten Key Scene chart? Has it helped you to create that strong first layer in your novel?

5 Responses to “The Innovative, Intuitive Way to Organize Your Novel’s Scenes”

  1. Philip Ridgers September 8, 2017 at 2:29 am #

    I’ve spent the last couple of months reading ‘Writing the Heart of Your Story,’ ‘Shoot Your Novel,’ and ‘The 12 Key Pillars of Novel Construction,’ and they’ve all been complete revelations. I’m in the middle of making copious notes about reworking my novel draft, and my new approach is all thanks to your books. I can’t wait for this one, I’ve just gone and preordered it. Thanks so much for all of your resources, they’ve taught me how much I don’t know, and where to look to fill in the gaps in my skills.

    • cslakin September 8, 2017 at 6:27 am #

      Thank you so much! I am glad to hear they’re helping you with your novel structure. I believe Layer Your Novel is the icing on the cake and should fill in any last questions you may have about organizing your scenes. Let me know what you think!

      • Philip Ridgers September 8, 2017 at 10:20 am #

        I certainly shall!

  2. Kenneth Alexander September 27, 2017 at 8:41 pm #

    Here I go, again! Got to purchase that book, Ms. Lakin. Since 2015, I’ve been writing, writing, writing, over 150,000 words of the same premise only different ways. Now, as if I’m scared enough, your brilliance suggests I might not be doing it right. What I’ve been doing lately is taking paragraphs and piecing them together to get at the “Writing the Heart of Your Story” I’m trying to tell.

    Indeed, every time I get satisfied with the first chapter I learn something that can make it better. Look forward to finding out what I missed in “Layer Your Novel.”

    Thanks again!

    • cslakin September 27, 2017 at 9:02 pm #

      I hope you find the layering method helpful, thanks!

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