Tag Archive - scene outline

Outlining Your Novel for Success

Writers often need a lot of help and direction to write a novel. Even seasoned authors benefit by another set of eyes (preferably ones that are just as experienced) on their scenes. Having done dozens (perhaps hundreds) of scene outline critiques, I can attest that every novel outline, regardless of how carefully crafted, needs tweaking.

Even if you know what scenes might make up a strong story, it’s still not easy to tell if you have all the “right ones” and in the right places. I love having others take a look and throw suggestions at me, to help me make my story better.

That’s what my scene outline critique process is all about. If you’re in the embryonic stages of crafting your story or have already completed a full draft, I’d like to encourage you to get a scene outline critique.

One of the biggest problems I see as a copyeditor and writing coach is weak scenes. Scenes with no point to them. Scenes structured badly. Boring scenes, dragging scenes, repetitive scenes.

Scenes are the pieces we string together to create a whole overarching story, but all too often writers include many scenes that just don’ work and shouldn’t be in their novel. Continue Reading…

From Outline to the Nanowrimo Finish Line

In honor of Nanowrimo, I’m reprinting a post I ran a few years ago. Whether you’re participating or not, check out these good tips about outlining your story.

You’re all signed up for National Novel Writing Month. Great. Are you going to get working on an outline? No? You’re going to “pants” your way through. Fine, do that. Have fun. But, seriously: Do you expect to have a terrific novel written by the end of November?

It’s really not likely. And as I said in last week’s post, maybe you don’t care. Maybe you are all about getting to the finish line, unconcerned about the train wreck you create. It can be a lot of fun setting a writing deadline and barreling toward it. And there is surely a sense of accomplishment in that.

But why waste a whole month writing just to say “I did it”? Why not actually outline a novel that is worth writing?

I want to pull some content from a post I wrote last year to help you prepare not just for a one-time NaNo experience but to write many great novels that hold together structurally. Continue Reading…

The Way to Really Get Ready for NaNoWriMo

With the mayhem of NaNoWriMo (National Novel-Writing Month) approaching, I’d like to encourage writers to avoid wasting time and effort throwing something together in the month of November that’s basically a train wreck.

If your aim is just to complete a “novel” (let’s just call it that for now …) of about 50,000 words in one month, and the only reason for doing so is to feel good about meeting your commitment, then fine. If you don’t care about your final result, then fine. Just write your head off for a month, smile at your accomplishment, then throw the manuscript out.

I’ve been hired by some aspiring authors to critique and/or edit their NaNo product. I do believe it was a waste of their money to hire me to work on something that was such a mess (maybe a fun mess to create) but that had no potential at all to be fashioned into a solid novel.

You’ve heard it from me over and over. Novels need structure. And the best time to lay out that structure is BEFORE you start writing scenes. Put an outline together after you’ve studied novel structure. Use my 12 Key Pillars of Novel Construction book and workbook, and study Layer Your NovelContinue Reading…