#FixYourNovel #2: Scene Outline

From the beginning in June of 2010, this blog has generally been about my journey as a writer. It hasn’t been a smooth ride so far, and some days the destination doesn’t appear any closer than when I began.

This reminds me of an experience my sister and I had on a trip to the western part of the United States a few years ago. We saw our first butte. It didn’t look more than a mile or two away, so we turned off onto a dirt road that looked like it would take us to the butte. We don’t have buttes in North Carolina, so we wanted to see one up close.

Photo by Greg Rakozy on Unsplash

After driving on this straight, flat road for a half hour or so, the butte didn’t look any closer than it had when we turned off the main highway. We gave up on reaching the butte and turned around.

As for the manuscript for my Doubloon novel, I haven’t given up and I haven’t turned around. I don’t think I could, even if I wanted to. I’m still learning about the work that has to be done after the rough draft is finished.

Scene Outlines

In my mind I thought I could evaluate every scene in my novel manuscript of more than 90,000 words by mid-July and be ready to send a detailed scene outline to a professional editor for a critique. In the meantime, I discovered a scene outline template on C.S. Lakin’s website.

(Ms. Lakin’s February 1, 2016 blog post, “Using a Scene Template to Craft Perfect Scenes” can be found at https://www.livewritethrive.com/2016/02/01/using-a-scene-template-to-craft-perfect-scenes/#more-7387, in case you’re interested in looking at her template. Click on “Resources” and scroll down to the clickable list of free writing resources she offers.)

I wrote an outline before writing the rough draft of the The Doubloon. After finishing the rough draft, I modified my outline into a scene outline for reference purposes. Then, I found Ms. Lakin’s template. It includes details and questions I hadn’t thought about being part of a scene outline.

Expanding my outline based on Ms. Lakin’s template has been a beneficial process because it makes me state how each scene drives the plot forward, what background details are revealed, and how the point-of-view character grows or changes. It might even tell me that one or more scenes aren’t necessary.

Novel readers won’t stand for boredom.

With today’s blog post topic in mind, I wanted to see what other writing experts had to say. My basic takeaway from K.M. Weiland’s June 17, 2019 blog post, https://www.helpingwritersbecomeauthors.com/how-to-write-interesting-scenes/ was that every scene needs to hold the reader’s attention.

Ms. Weiland goes on to list five things every scene should contain. She wrote, “Basically, the art of writing interesting scenes is the art of preventing reader boredom.”

Douglas W. T. Smith is an Australian fantasy author. In his blog post on May 29, 2019, “How To Bring Life And Fluency to Each Scene In Your Novel” (https://dwtsmith.wordpress.com/2019/05/29/how-to-bring-life-and-fluency-to-each-scene-in-your-novel/)  he gave four important tips for writing scenes.

My favorite takeaway from Mr. Smith’s blog post was “Each scene should stand alone, make it dazzling enough to inform your reader of the necessary plot information, exciting enough to create interest and interesting enough to cause the reader to keep going.”

I will continue to work on my scene outline. As a hope-to-be debut novelist with my The Doubloon manuscript, I think it’s a good idea for me to hire a professional editor to evaluate my scene outline. I’ll let you know when that happens.

In case you missed #FixYourNovel #1:  Read it Aloud

Here’s the link to my May 24, 2019 blog post:  https://janetswritingblog.com/2019/05/27/fixyournovel-1-read-it-aloud/.

Until my next blog post

I hope you have a good book to read. I’m still pulled between several books and not able to finish any of them.

If you’re a writer, I hope you have productive writing time.

Thank you for reading my blog. You could have spent the last few minutes doing something else, but you chose to read my blog.

Let’s continue the conversation

What are the “buttes” in your life – those things you want to accomplish that seem to always be out of reach?


8 thoughts on “#FixYourNovel #2: Scene Outline

  1. I never knew how complicated writing a book could be! When you look back on your struggles you will be proud by how much you accomplished. As for buttes in my life…retirement and it will happen on 7-30-19!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I’m probably making it more complicated than it has to be, Diane. Who knows? Thank you for your comments and encouragement. And just 13 days until retirement? I’m so happy for you!

    Liked by 1 person

  3. I know that you have been reading about and studying how to write assiduously, and hope you haven’t done too much, but have translated your knowledge into an ease of execution and strength that always come out of good writing. Best of luck.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. I hear what you’re saying, David. I tend to over-think things and over-study things. I hope this is evolving into an ease in writing. Thank you for sharing your perspective as you’re seeing this as an objective and astute observer. I’ll take your words to heart and try to move forward on my novel with fresh eyes. I really do appreciate your perspective and that you take the time to share your thoughts on my blog posts. Your point today is well-taken. It’s time for me to spend more time writing and less time studying writing.


  5. Through the many years since the fourth grade like you from your earlier years I’ve studied extensively how to write. I find now that it’s best for me to write and let the residue of that study reflect itself in the work as spontaneously and unselfconsciosly as it can. I think it is impossible to write a novel based on a “how to write a novel” gudebook. It just doesn’t work. I’m betting that your book will be top-notch. I look forward to reading it one day.

    Right now after taking a shower I’ll be tackling a piece on F.Scott Fitzgerald–a wonderful writer

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Thank you for your encouragement, David. It’s a matter of self-confidence. I’m reminded of back in the early 1990s when my sister and I were compiling three Morrison genealogy books — one on each of the three Morrison couples who left Scotland and settled here in the 1760s. (It was too much for one book. Yikes!) We kept gathering information and hearing from more descendants. The best advice we received was from another genealogist. She told us that at some point you have to just go for it with what you have. Perhaps I need to print her words on a banner and hang it in the room where my computer is. Thanks, as always, for your thoughts. F. Scott Fitzgerald — now there’s a topic! I’ll look forward to reading what you have to say about him and his writing.

    Liked by 1 person

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