Structuring Your Story’s Scenes, Pt. 12: Frequently Asked Questions

Once authors grasp Scene* structure, their whole approach to storytelling can become clearer and more refined. At first blush, it can be a subject that takes a while to fully grasp and, as a result, can spawn all kinds of questions. But all you clever Wordplayers seem to have caught on without so much as […]

Did Agatha Christie Have a Formula for Success?

Reading Agatha Christie books at an early age inspired me to learn French. Hercule Poirot was Belgian, not French, but Christie’s books were sprinkled with enough French phrases to intrigue me. I don’t recall if Poirot ever said, “Plus ça change, plus c’est la même chose,” but it seems appropriate here. The phrase, loosely translated, means, “The more […]

Structuring Your Story's Scenes: Variations on the Sequel

Structuring Your Scenes, Pt. 11: Variations on the Sequel Scene

Sequels*, even more than scenes, offer all kinds of flexibility in scene structure. In large part, this flexibility is what can make sequels difficult to quantify in stories. Unlike the scene, sequels can be so subtle they blend right into the scenery. This can sometimes lead authors to believe sequels aren’t as important as scenes, but their flexibility […]

Structuring Your Story’s Scenes, Pt. 10: Options for Decisions in a Scene Sequel

Perhaps the most instinctive of all the Scene’s* building blocks is the decision. This third and final piece of the sequel grows out of the character’s dilemma and leads right into the next scene’s goal. In scene structure, the decision is the little cattle prod on your story’s backside that keeps it moving forward. Conceivably, your characters […]

Structuring Your Story’s Scenes, Pt. 9: Options for Dilemmas in a Scene Sequel

If the first part of your sequel*—the reaction—appeals to your readers’ emotions, the second part is all about the intellect. Once your characters’ first-blush emotional responses to the previous scene’s disaster has passed, they will have to get down to the all-important business of thinking about what they’re going to do next. The previous disaster has […]

Structuring Your Story’s Scenes, Pt. 8: Options for Character Reactions in a Scene Sequel

At the heart of every sequel* is the narrating character’s reaction to the preceding scene’s disaster. This is where you get the opportunity to dig around inside your characters’ emotional and mental processes and find out what they’re really made of. While the scene is about external action, the sequel is about internal reaction. The sequel will sometimes […]

Structuring Your Story's Scenes: The Three Building Blocks of the Sequel

Structuring Your Story’s Scenes, Pt. 7: The Three Building Blocks of the Sequel

The sequel*—the second half of the Scene—sometimes gets shortchanged. But it is every bit as important as the scene, since it allows characters to process the events of the scene and figure out their next move. The sequel is the reaction half of the action/reaction pairing. This is where introspective moments, quiet conversations, and character development occurs. Even though […]

if you keep in mind these five elements of story structure, you’re more likely to succeed than you’d be if you ignored them.

5 Elements of Story Structure

A few years ago, on the West Side of Manhattan, a rusting hulk of elevated railroad tracks metamorphosed into a promenade called High Line Park. Its transformation soon turned the Meatpacking District, through which it passes, into one of the hottest neighborhoods in New York. If you go visit the park, you’ll see a relatively new hotel called The Standard, […]

The Most Annoying Type of Story Conflict

If you’ve been following the series “Structuring Your Story’s Scenes” on my blog, then you probably know we’ve been talking about conflict quite a bit. But there is one aspect of conflict that I haven’t covered—and that is, in my opinion, the most annoying type of conflict an author can inflict upon readers. This is […]

Structuring Your Story's Scenes: Variations on the Scene

Structuring Your Story’s Scenes, Pt. 6: Variations on the Scene

The great thing about structure is that it provides a solid framework for your story, while still presenting endless possibilities. This is just as true of the Scene* as it is of the larger plot structure that guides your story as a whole. Now that we’ve concluded our exploration of the first part of the […]