Tag Archive - scene structure

Keys to Moving Your Plot Forward

I tell writers often they are failing to “advance their plot.” What does that mean, and why does it matter?

I keep seeing novels that “land on my desk” that start off with a great situation but then veer off into the hinterlands. Other novels don’t even get out the gate. The opening scenes seem to have nothing to do with the premise of their story. I’ll go back and reread a synopsis and shake my head. Where is the premise setup? Who exactly is the protagonist?

This is such a problem that I’m going to share some points from a post I wrote two years ago on the topic.

If your scenes aren’t “advancing the plot,” you have a serious problem.

Each scene should reveal some new information, but not just anything—the information needs to help move the plot forward. The bottom line? Every scene must have a point to it or it shouldn’t be in your novel. Continue Reading…

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…

8 Steps to a Perfect Scene

I’m sharing a guest post I wrote some months back for Jerry Jenkins (Here’s the link to the original post, if you’d like to check it out and read some of the comments). Few fiction writers consider the actual process of writing a scene, and I’ve never found anything written on this topic that breaks down the process into steps. So I hope you benefit from this!

If you’ve attempted writing a novel, you know how complex the process is. Writers have to not only come up with a great premise and engaging characters, along with high stakes, and themes, and meaningful conflict that pushes the protagonist toward his visible goal for the story, they also have to master the crafting of the scene.

Writing a perfect scene is a whole lot harder than some people think. Many writers, sitting down to work on their novel for the day, spend a moment or two thinking up some idea for a scene that will fit nicely in their story. Little regard is given to the overall purpose of that scene or in choosing setting and developments that will advance and complicate the plot in an impacting way.

While a checklist is helpful in analyzing the components and structure of a scene, it doesn’t address the process. Continue Reading…

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