Jul. 24th, 2013

jessicasteiner: (I Write Therefore I Am)
For all sections in this series, check out this post. I recommend reading them in order, but if you want to go straight to a particular concept, you can use the Table of Contents to find the right post.




After completing the first readthrough, it's time to read through the book again, but this time with a fine-toothed comb in hand (metaphorically speaking).

For OtherWhere, I actually did one read through and completed the next five steps all at the same time, but I strongly suggest that you do these one at a time the first time. It's difficult to learn these skills and do them all at the same time. Even for me, who had done this once before with Mortis Unbound, it was a challenge and a hell of a slog.

But anyway, on to the next step.

Step 4: Scene Cards

Get yourself a bunch of simple index cards - lined or unlined, depending on your preference. I punch a hole in the top right corner of each card, and get one of those little metal rings to keep them all together in order. A keyring would work, or a big paperclip all unbent and made into a circle. You'll definitely want a good way to keep them in order.

As you read through the book, create one index card per scene, and put it on the ring. For each card, you want to include the following:
  1. The scene number, in order.

  2. The point of view of the scene.

  3. The pages of the scene.

  4. One sentence, describing the elements of the scene.


I put the first three elements at the top, so for example, the first scene card for OtherWhere looks like this:
1POV: Omnicient1-3


The sentence requires some additional explanation. I don't just describe what happens in the scene. The purpose of the sentence is to make sure that all of the elements of a scene are present, namely:
  • A protagonist

  • An antagonist

  • A conflict

  • A setting

  • A twist


Ideally, your scene should contain all of these things. Someone should be trying to do something, and something or someone is resisting them or making it difficult. All this should happen in a place. And at the end of the scene, something should change or be revealed that changes the circumstances in a significant way.

If you ensure that every scene has all of these elements, your readers won't be bored, that's for sure.

If your scene is missing one or more of these elements, note that on the card, and move on to the next scene.

Next time we'll examine the setting of your novel in detail.

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Jessica Steiner

February 2016

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