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, […]

Structuring Your Story’s Scenes, Pt. 1: Mastering the Two Halves of Scene Structure

Trick question for you: What’s one of the most overlooked pieces of the story puzzle? Okay, so it’s not really a trick. It’s a legitimate question with a legitimate, if somewhat surprising, answer. And that answer is: the scene. Yep, you heard right. The scene—that most integral, most obvious, most universal part of any story—is […]

How to Discover the Purpose of Every Scene in Your Story

In creating meaningful and effective scenes, the most important questions writers should ask are: What is the focus of this scene? What is its purpose? Let’s a take a look at how to find the best answers to these questions. How to Find Your Scene’s Purpose Scenes are created in one of two ways. 1. […]

The Secrets of Story Structure, Pt. 12: Your Questions Answered

Because of its fixed nature, story structure, once learned, is easy to grasp. However, it’s also a subject that inspires endless questions. A few weeks ago, while I was finishing up the last of the posts in this series, I asked those of you who follow me on Facebook and Twitter for story-structure questions you’d like me to address before […]

The Secrets of Story Structure, Pt. 11: The Resolution

The resolution is always a bittersweet moment. You’ve reached the end of the story. You’ve climbed the mountain, and now you can plant your flag of completion at its peak. But as the finale of all your work, this is also the finale of all the fun you’ve experienced in your wonderful world of made-up people and places. The […]

The Secrets of Story Structure, Pt. 10: The Climax

And, now, the moment we’ve all been waiting for! The climax is the pièce de résistance of our gourmet meal of a novel. When we wheel out the climax and lift the serving dish’s gleaming silver lid, this is the bit that gets all the “oohs” and “aahs.” The climax of a story should have readers on the edges […]

The Secrets of Story Structure, Pt. 9: The Third Act

The third act is the moment we’ve all been waiting for—readers, writers, and characters alike. This final section of the story is the point. It’s what we’ve been building up to all this time. If the first and second acts were engaging and aesthetic labyrinths, the third act is where X marks the spot. We’ve found the treasure. […]