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

This week’s video talks about a type of conflict that works within the story, but which often causes more annoyance to readers than it’s worth. Video Transcript: 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 […]

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 […]

Structuring Your Story’s Scenes, Pt. 5: Options for Scene Disasters

The disaster is the payoff at the end of the scene.* This is what readers have been waiting for, often with a delicious sense of dread. This is the answer, at least partially, to that all-important question, “What’s gonna happen?” The final act in the three-part structure of your scene is the outcome. The first […]

Structuring Your Story’s Scenes, Pt. 4: Options for Conflict in a Scene

Once you’ve established your character’s scene* goal, the fun begins in earnest! Conflict is what story is all about. Without it, the characters would achieve their goals in minutes, all the loose ends would instantly be tied off with a pretty red bow, and the story would be happily ever over. That may be nice […]

Structuring Your Story's Scenes: Options for Goals in a Scene

Structuring Your Story’s Scenes, Pt. 3: Options for Goals in a Scene

The story as a whole and every scene* within it begins with a goal. Your characters want something—something they will have difficulty accomplishing. What they want frames the plot on both the macro and micro levels. What they want defines them, and by extension the theme of the book. The possibilities for scene goals are endless—and […]

Structuring Your Story’s Scenes, Pt. 2: The Three Building Blocks of the Scene

Like story itself, each Scene* follows a specific structure. In fact, the arc of a Scene is a miniature version of the larger story structure exhibited over the course of the book: 1. Beginning=Hook 2. Middle=Development 3. End=Climax When we look at the arc this way, it makes a basic sort of sense. It doesn’t, […]