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A Look at Plot Twists and Smoking Guns

You now have the first ten key scene types presented to you. If you missed the last few Monday posts introducing my 10-20-30 scene builder concept, catch up. These are the ten basic scenes with which you can lay a foundation for most any novel.

Last week I gave you your new chart that has the ten foundational scenes listed and the approximate position they take up in your story. Print it out; use it. You can’t go wrong if you start with these ten scenes when laying out your novel.

I say “approximate” because every novel is a bit different, and while I’m a stickler for structural rules, I also wholly believe you need flexibility and room for originality. My novels often veer into crazy when it comes to structure, but I make sure those foundational scenes and events are in there.

One person wrote and asked me why I didn’t have Turning Point #2 (the 25% mark where the goal is established for the protagonist) as one of the ten key scenes. Reason: that turning point isn’t necessarily one specific scene. It marks the place in the story when the protagonist has the goal fixed. But that situation might be the result of a few scenes in that section of a novel. Again, allow for flexibility. This is just a frame for your story.

Shape Can Vary, but You Need Strong Framework

Some of my novels’ shapes may look a bit wonky, like houses with strange extensions poking out of the second floor or an unusual alcove off the roof, but I keep within those “building codes” that will ensure my structure will stand up to the hard winds of scrutiny and the ravages of time. Continue Reading…

12 Questions to Ask Your Character about the Setting She Is In

On Throwback Thursday, we’re looking at excerpts from past posts on Live Write Thrive

Today’s post is from Settings in Your Novel That Work As Triggers:

When choosing settings for your scenes, you want to think about the kinds of places that will allow the emotions, needs, dreams, and fears of your characters to come out.

Certain places will trigger these things to come to the surface and will stir memories. Your character has a past, and even if she never visits any of the places in her past in your novel, other places can draw out feelings and memories. This happens to us all the time.

Of course, if you are putting your characters in places they’ve been before, or they are living in the same town their whole life, those memories and feelings are closer to the surface.

The point it, you want to use your setting to help bring out your themes, drive your plot, and reveal character. You don’t have to do this, but by ignoring setting you are missing out on a great tool in your writer’s toolbox that you can use in a powerful way. Continue Reading…

The First 10 Scenes You Need to Plot for Your Novel

Now that we’ve spent weeks looking at most of the key scenes you need in your novel and that will form the foundation for your entire story, we’re ready to look at the “10” in my 10-20-30 Scene Builder concept. These are the first ten scenes you will do well to lock in first.

Of course, if you haven’t taken the time to develop a strong concept with a kicker, the protagonist and his goal, the conflict with high stakes, and the themes with heart, you should hold off until you do so.

You can take my online video course to understand fully what those four essential corner pillars of novel structure are. Just enroll at and then click on the free course. I want you to nail this! Also think about studying my 12 Key Pillars of Novel Construction and use the workbook to flesh this all out. Then you’ll be ready to dive into laying out all these scenes. Continue Reading…

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