#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?


Character Arc Development & The Spanish Coin

I’ve been reading about character arc and how to develop it. This has made me reflect on my 95,000-word historical fiction manuscript.

The Spanish Coin

The working title for my novel is The Spanish Coin. It begins with a dead body. The main character is Nancy. There is a cast of characters, some of whom support Nancy and one who sets out to ruin her. The story is set in South Carolina in 1771.

The main plot is about determining who murdered the local pastor. Was it Nancy?

There is a subplot about a black male slave and a free black woman. Their story runs throughout the book.

There is a subplot about Nancy’s friend, Betty, and a stranger who visits the community.

The Betrayal

Then there is the sequel that I’ve plotted out. Its working title is The Betrayal. In fact, I’ve outlined what appears to be three books to follow the story I started in The Spanish Coin. I’ve been working on this series for more than a decade, but first I need to get The Spanish Coin published.

Character Arc

There are three types of character arc, according to author and blogger K.M. Weiland:  positive, flat, and negative. As I understand it,  a positive character arc is one in which the character changes for the better or perhaps discovers she or he is stronger than they’d thought. A flat arc is one in which characters take on the world or the problem the world throws at them, but they aren’t changed inside or not changed much. Negative arcs are sometimes found when the character deals with failure.

My reading this week has brought to my attention how much my character development in The Spanish Coin sets the ground work for any books that might follow. Since I only planned to write one book, I did not have in mind how character development in The Spanish Coin would influence the plotting of sequels. I got so involved with the main and secondary characters that I wanted to know what happened to them. So far, I have an 11,000-word outline.

I need to review The Spanish Coin manuscript to look for changes I need to make regarding character development and character arc in light of my plan to continue some of the characters’s stories in additional books. With that accomplished, I need to stop procrastinating and hire an editor to evaluate the manuscript.

Until my next blog post in a few days, I hope you have a good book to read. If you are a writer, I hope you have productive writing time.