CPGO – Step 6: Scene by Scene

We’re down to the meat, the scene by scene outline. The structure I use for this is inherent in yWriter, but let’s talk about scenes first.

A scene is a moment in the story defined by a time and place. BiaM and You Can Write a Novel both adhere to the ten scene model. That is, action packed movies and books have ten or less major scene. Neither of them are talking about fantasy. A lot of writers I know look at the ten scene theory and freak. However, this, like other things involved in novel writing, is only a suggestion. Me? I go through and lay out the scenes without counting them.

Exercise: Do the Scene Shuffle.
If you’re having trouble figuring out which scenes go where then this might help. Write out the descriptions of each scene you know is going to be in your novel on index cards or in a software package that allows you to reorder cards or scenes. yWriter does this but sometimes I like things a little free form. My current writing computer is a touch screen with Windows 7 installed. So I use Windows stickies on the cork board. This way I have card like in real life without needing the space of the cards. Most novel writing packages have this ability and a lot of people use mind mapping software to organize. Do whatever works for you.

After I know what order my scenes are in, I create the number of chapters in yWriter I think I need. This is based off the Setting Sketch step. Currently I think I need nine chapters. Then I go to chapter one. I ignore chapter descriptions until I’m finished with the last revision. Instead, I create a scene in chapter one. I open that, give it a date, fill out the scene description, associate characters, locations and items. Finally, I fill out the Goal, Conflict and Outcome tab. I used to ignore that but I’ve found filling that out gives me a better perspective on the scene.

I do this for each scene in each chapter till I’m satisfied. I copy the date and the scene description in my timeline Excel file. I might find I need more scenes and chapters than I think I do.

This is about it. I have an outline. Used to do more rehashing of the plot sketch but stopped exactly because it was a rehash.

The next step is writing the novel. I’ll be back when I start revising Without Honor.

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