6 Ways to Craft Spectacular Set-Piece Scenes

What are set-piece scenes? They’re the big ones. They’re the scenes that define your story, not just in terms of plot mechanics, but particularly in terms of scope and impact. These are the scenes your audience will remember when they think about your story. They’re the scenes they’ll remember even when they’ve forgotten everything else about […]

3 Questions to Make Sure You Aren’t Missing Out on Important Scenes

For one reason or another, it can sometimes be tempting to avoid writing certain important scenes. Issues that are difficult emotionally or that we have to expend extra effort to research properly may be issues we’d just as soon write our way around. But doing so is usually a fast and easy way to frustrate […]

6 Questions to Help You Avoid Repetitive Scenes

It takes a lot of scenes to make a novel. Not only do we need enough scenes to progress the plot and get the characters from Point A to Point B, we also need to reach a certain word count so the book can be a novel. (Or the movie can be a movie. Ya […]

5 Questions About Scene Sequences

In many ways story structure is a fractal pattern. The same patterns we find on the macro level of the entire story arc also repeat themselves, within an ever-tightening spiral, from scene structure all the way down to sentence structure. Somewhere in between story and scene, we find scene sequences. Within the story’s larger narrative, […]

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How to Write Interesting Scenes

Here’s a secret about storytelling that many writers overlook. An interesting plot isn’t what makes an interesting story. Interesting characters aren’t what make an interesting story either. In reality, a story is only as interesting as its scenes. That sounds almost too obvious to think about. Honestly, I hadn’t thought about it too specifically myself […]

7 Frequently Asked Writing Questions

7 Frequently Asked Writing Questions

The amazing thing about being a writer is that you get to be part of a writing community. Especially now, in the Internet age, you have access not just to the writings of the great minds who have gone before, but also to the shared wisdom, common sense, commiseration, and encouragement of all your contemporaries. If […]

How to Calculate Your Book's Length Before Writing

How to Calculate Your Book’s Length Before Writing

Story structure is all about timing. It’s about making sure your rhythm and pacing align for maximum impact, both in keeping readers glued to the page and in resonating emotionally. The reason this timing works is that it is largely instinctive, for both writers and readers. When I first started learning about story structure, I pulled […]

2 Ways To Make Sure You've Chosen the Right Scene

2 Ways to Choose the Right Scene

Today, I’m guest posting over on Jerry Jenkins’s site, with the post “Does This Scene Deserve a Place in Your Story? 2 Ways to Find Out.” Here’s an excerpt: “Cut this scene. It doesn’t move the plot.” That is my most frequent comment on manuscripts I edit for others. It causes most writers to groan. […]

An Easy Way To Notch Up Your Scene Conflict

An Easy Way to Notch Up Your Scene Conflict

Scene conflict is what keeps your story running, chapter after chapter, page after page. Conflict is the heart of each scene, and each of those scenes is one of the dozens of tiny engines keeping your plot moving forward—and your readers glued to the page. It’s helpful to think of scene conflict as not so much […]

How To Troubleshoot and Repair Any Scene

8 Ways to Troubleshoot a Scene–and 5 Ways Make It Fabulous

So there I was: sitting at my desk, notebook in front of me—and absolutely no words staring back at me. The problem? I knew what needed to happen in this scene, but now that the time had come to write it, it seemed flat as a roadkill raccoon. It was clearly time to troubleshoot a […]