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Layering a Subplot into Your Novel

We’ve looked at plot twists these last couple of weeks because they are so useful to have in novels. Regardless of the genre you’re writing in, a great plot twist can strengthen your story and make it much more exciting than if you don’t have any.

Warning: this is a long, meaty post, but I’m going deep into one way you might layer your next ten scenes over your ten foundational scenes. You might want to settle in with a bowl of popcorn and a latte for this one.

Two of the ten foundational scenes in your novel should be some kind of twist. If you haven’t downloaded the chart showing the first ten scenes of my 10-20-30 scene builder method, get yours here. We’ve discussed those ten scene types—some in more depth than others—but I hope you now have a good feel for what they are and how and why they work in your story.

While you can build off those ten key scenes in a multitude of directions—and that’s what my next few Monday posts will be demonstrating—to ensure you have a strong foundation for your story, it’s best to work on those first ten. Continue Reading…

How Novelists Can Work Plot Twists into Their Stories

Plot twists are important and powerful elements in a novel. We took a quick look at twists last week, and I explained that you can have these twists in various places in your story, and they can vary in strength.

One novel may have lots of small twists that are basically complications and obstacles the protagonist encounters. But often you’ll have one or two huge twists that wrench the story, and those are terrific when done well.

So what do you need to keep in mind when creating a plot twist?

Twists are all about redirection. Going against expectations.

Think about what readers are expecting and hoping for at a given moment in the story. Then keep twisting the story into new directions that stun and delight them. Continue Reading…

Understanding Premise and the One-Sentence Story Concept

Over the last few weeks we’ve been taking a look at key moments in your novel’s structure. This week, before we get into the meat of my 10-20-30 Scene Builder concept, I want to make sure you have a clear understanding of premise and the one-sentence story structure.

We really can’t move forward until you have this nailed, so I’ll do my best to help you get there.

Most writers are clear about the inciting incident or initial disturbance that has to come near the start of the book. Yet, I see way too many novels in which there really isn’t a strong impacting incident. Or it’s in the wrong place.

I recently did a fifty-page critique on a novel (which wasn’t the author’s first novel either) that had fifty pages of setup. Backstory. Telling all about how the characters met, fell in love, got married, etc. What was the stated premise? Basically, it told of a man who has something precious taken from him and must face danger and horror to get that thing back. Huh? What did the first fifty pages have to do with any of that? Nothing. Continue Reading…

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