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Start the New Year with a Comprehensive Scene Outline

I wrote this post a year ago, and since I did this series on scene outlines, I’ve had dozens of writers over 2017 hire me to critique their outlines.

What have I seen? That writers who take the time to do a thorough scene outline, and who study books like Layer Your Novel, to ensure they what scenes are needed in a novel and where they go, end up with extremely well-structured novels. That is, after they have me critique them.

A lot of the outlines I work on are a mess. Writers need a lot of help, a lot of direction. Even if you know basically what scenes will make up a strong story, it’s still not easy to tell if you have all you need and in the right places. And it helps to have someone else take a look and throw suggestions at you, ways to make your story better.

That’s what the scene outline critique is all about. So I’d like to encourage you to get a scene outline critique. Read on and learn what this is all about. Also do a search on my blog for “scene outline” and you’ll see a lot of other posts that will help you.

Hire me. I charge by the hour, and I feel this is the best use of your money. You’ll get a lot of help for a small cost. Why spend thousands of dollars on a full critique that may tell you, in essence, that your structure is a mess and you need to round file the whole project?

I’m all about saving time! 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…

How to Weave a Subplot into the Structure of Your Novel

This week we’re going to explore how novelists can layer a series of scenes over the foundational structure that’s already in place. We’ve been spending some weeks going over the ten key scene types that most writing instructors would agree are the important ones to lock in.

You can download this handy chart that defines what these ten scenes are and where, approximately, they should be positioned in your story. While it’s perfectly fine to veer off this structure, and many novels do so successfully, this lines up with what most great novels—and films and plays—follow, regardless of genre.

So what we’re going to be doing for a number of weeks is look at the next ten scenes that you can build atop those primary scenes. I’ve been likening this process to filling a jar with rocks. You want to put the big rocks in, then the pebbles, then the sand, followed by water in order to fill a jar fully.

Continue Reading…

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