Tag Archive - scenes

Breaking Down Scene Structure into Bite-Sized Bits

I could spend a year discussing scene construction. I give a workshop on this topic, and the last time I taught it (in Phoenix, AZ), I got through about half the material in a total of six hours of instruction. Needless to say, we won’t be spending months on this topic, although it would be justified.

I mentioned last week that the greatest issue I come across while critiquing and editing more than two hundred partial and complete manuscripts a year is this: poor understanding and execution of scene structure. Why is scene structure so important? Can’t a writer just tell his plot any way he wants? Sure. As I said last week (and many times before), a writer can do whatever he wants. Doesn’t mean he’ll succeed. Continue Reading…

The Secret to a Great Plot Lies in Scene Structure

Do you want to know what the secret is to a great plot? If you read last week’s post, you already know the answer. No, it’s not having a fantastic concept and kicker. That’s not plot.

We’ve been looking at a special way to think of plot. Yes, it’s my way, but I’ve found this understanding of plot has helped hundreds of my editing clients. Too many writers have great plot ideas and elements, but few really have a clue how to take all those great bits and turn them into a great novel. They often succumb to the false belief that their cool concept will somehow convert into a great novel.

The Daunting Chasm

There seems to be a huge chasm looming in front of many writers—with no bridge across. On one side stands the writer with all these terrific ideas, characters, themes, and conflict. On the other side is this nebulous thing called a coherent, finished novel ready to jump to the top of the best-seller lists. This seems to be the drop-off point for most novelists—ending in a long, painful fall to the bottom of the chasm. Continue Reading…

Plot and Subplots in a Series of Scenes

Ah, now we are getting somewhere, some of you may be thinking. We are finally going to look deeply at plot after taking a long dip into the four essential corner pillars of novel construction. In this year-long course I’m doing on this blog, we’re going to be looking at 12 pillars in all, and we are now on #5.

A great, strong plot is essential for building a terrific novel. There is no excuse for a writer of any novel to sacrifice good plot for the sake of anything—art, character study, or an important message. Without plot, you have no story. Period. So don’t misunderstand me if I appear to underemphasize plot at times.

Yes, I’m a “character-driven” novelist. The heart of my novels centers on my characters—what they need, want, fear, and strive for. I feel every novel must be character-driven in that way. But not at the expense of good plot. If you’ve had your manuscript critiqued by me, you’ll know I’m a real stickler about strong plot. Every little bit of every scene has to serve the needs of the plot. Continue Reading…

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