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Stop Writing Female Protagonists… Unless…

Stop Writing Female Protagonists... Unless...It’s become a mantra now: “We need more female protagonists.” But I say: No.

Uhh…. what?

No.

I say stop already with this crazily simplistic demand for “female protagonists.” Because it’s so totally not working.

The problem, as is so often the case, is that authors, producers, and directors, who are either feeling pressured to be politically correct and/or are trying jump on a commercially-viable bandwagon, are failing to approach their stories holistically. You can’t just stick female protagonists into any old story and expect it to be an affirming and uplifting experience that rings true on a meaningful level.

As Jo Eberhardt pointed out in her insightful post “Authentic Female Characters vs Gender-Swaps“:

…you can’t tell me that taking a classic novel [in this case, Lord of the Flies] about well-known male characters and changing their names is creating—or even respecting—female protagonists. All it’s doing is saying: “Female characters are only worth writing if, underneath all the window dressing, they’re simply male characters with new names.”

Lord of the Flies

The only reason any author should ever include female protagonists in a story is if that story just happens to be about the female experience.

How Marvel’s Jennifer Jones Gets This Right

There has been a clamor for female-fronted superhero stories for, like, forever now. And there have been some attempts, ranging from lame (Elektra) to legitimate (Wonder Woman). But almost all of them are still fundamentally male stories, in that they either objectify women or put them in traditionally male roles.

What would it look like if a story with a female protagonist was actually built, from the ground up, to ask the obvious question: What would it mean to be a female with superpowers—and how can that thematically reflect upon the questions men and women face in their relationships with each other in real life?

Although Marvel’s television series have been decidedly more uneven than their movies, they have done some things very right, especially early on. Their approach to super-strengthed PI Jessica Jones is one of them.

>>Click here to read lessons in storytelling from the movies in the Marvel Cinematic Universe.

Jessica Jones Trish

The show is dark, gritty, often uncomfortable, but well-scripted and well-acted. And, most importantly of all, it brings a thoughtful exploration of questions that could only be asked about a female protagonist. Particularly, it focuses on questions of consent, dangerous relationships, stalkers, abuse, personal boundaries, and empowerment.

Jessica is no paragon of femininity. She’s street wise, smart-mouthed, sometimes cruel, often careless, and unafraid to insult people or throw her weight around. But neither is she a male-brained character who just happens to be played by Kristen Ritter. She is a woman struggling with a woman’s fears and a woman’s insecurities.

The structure of her story, with its conflict and its very personal antagonist, are built around this. And as a result, her story is thematically pitch perfect.

Jessica Jones Kilgrave

How to Make the Most of Your Female Protagonists

In the past, I’ve talked about how the secret to writing dimensional female protagonists is to simply write dimensional characters. Gender is a formative part of the life experience of anyone, but it’s only a part. Writing good characters, requires the same compassion, empathy, and understanding, whether those characters are male, female, vegetable, or animal.

However, as you should realize by now, there is actually a second secret.

Being true your characters means crafting stories that are about those characters. It means looking at the world through your character’s eyes and comprehending her questions and her reactions. It means giving her goals that make sense for her mindset and lifestyle. It means setting up an antagonist and conflict that plays to her personal weaknesses. And it means looking for the themes that are honest about who this person was, is, and where’s she’s going.

And that’s how you write a worthwhile protagonist, period.

Wordplayers, tell me your opinion! Have you ever written female protagonists? What was the greatest challenge? Tell me in the comments!

The post Stop Writing Female Protagonists… Unless… appeared first on Helping Writers Become Authors.

4 Reasons You’re Confused About Scene Structure (With Examples)

4 Reasons You're Confused About Scene Structure (With Examples)Scene structure is the backbone of strong narrative storytelling. Built properly, scenes effortlessly link one to another to create a chain of give and take, cause and effect, action and reaction, question and answer.

The whole point of scene structure is to create an ebb and flow that mimics how humans balance forward momentum with the necessary introspection to process that momentum (another analogy might be: extroversion and introversion).

Structuring Your Novel IPPY Award 165

Classic scene structure (as I discuss in my book Structuring Your Novel) looks like this:

Part 1: Scene (Action)

a. Goal (character wants something on the scene level that will ultimately help him reach his overall plot goal—and he tries to get it)

b. Conflict (character is met with an obstacle to obtaining his goal)

c. Outcome (usually disastrous, in the sense that the character does not achieve the goal or achieves only part of it)

Part 2: Sequel (Reaction)

a. Reaction (character reacts to the outcome)

b. Dilemma (character must figure out  how to overcome the new complications and still move forward toward his main plot goal)

c. Decision (character decides upon a new scene goal to cope with the new complications and move forward toward the main plot goal in a—hopefully—more effective way)

>>For an even more complete discussion of scene structure, see my series How to Structure Scenes in Your Story.

5 Reasons You’re Confused About Scenes and Sequels

I receive a lot of questions from writers who seem to be confused about scene structure, but in fact, know a lot more than they’re giving themselves credit for. Here are five important facts about scene structure that can help you stop overthinking the process.

1. Structural Scenes Have Nothing to Do With Scene Breaks

Let’s just get this one out of the way right at the start: a structural scene is one that includes all of the structural pieces mentioned above. It has nothing to do with the popular concept of scene as a portion of the story divided from the rest of the story by a scene break or chapter break.

Several structural scenes can reside within one chapter or “scene.” Or a single structural scene can span many chapters.

>>More on that in this post: 7 Questions You Have About Scenes vs. Chapters.

2. Scene Structure Isn’t Always Exact

Even if you’ve already mastered the basics, scene structure remains a complex subject if only because it isn’t always a rock-solid principle. The idea is to create an overall framework within your story that follows this give and take of scene and sequel. But this doesn’t necessarily mean every single moment within your story must nail every one of these beats.

The various parts of scenes and sequels will often bleed over into one another, sometimes expanding, sometimes compressing, sometimes combining. It’s an often intuitive dance that authors have to be confident enough to feel their way through.

3. “Incidents” and “Happenings” Don’t Follow Proper Structure

Sometimes you’ll write a “scene” that doesn’t follow proper structure at all, but is still necessary to the story. If you’re trying to religiously follow proper scene structure, this may have you freaking out.

Techniques of the Selling Writer by Dwight V. SwainBut actually, it’s totally acceptable to write the occasional scene that does not include the above-mentioned integers of proper structure. In Techniques of the Selling Author, the late great Dwight V. Swain defines two possible approaches:

An incident is a sort of abortive scene, in which your character attempts to reach a goal. But he meets with no resistance, no conflict.

A happening brings people together. But it’s non-dramatic, because no goal or conflict is involved.

You’ll want to use incidents and happenings sparingly and with care, since too many of them will quickly derail the forward progress of your plot. But neither should you be afraid of including them where necessary.

>>Find out more here: Incidents and Happenings: Scenes That Aren’t Actually Scenes.

4. Scenes and Sequels Can Be as Big or as Small as You Want

Harking back to the beginning of this section, your scenes and sequels can be so big they span many chapters or so small there are several of them within a single chapter.

This is especially true of the sequel portion of the structure. Very often, in the heat of action, characters will experience a disastrous outcome, immediately process their reaction, face the dilemma, come to a decision, and begin acting upon a new goal—all within the space of a few sentences. Indeed, the whole concept of action/reaction can be found in “Motivation-Reaction Units” on the sentence level.

>>Find out more about Motivation-Reaction Units (or MRUs) here: Motivation-Reaction Units: Cracking the Code of Good Writing

So, although you don’t need to particularly worry about the size of your scenes/sequels, there are two key things to keep in mind:

1. With few exceptions, you want to make sure all the pieces of the structure are present (at least implicitly), no matter how short or long your scene/sequel.

2. Scene structure controls your story’s pacing. Rapid-fire scene/sequel pairings, or even lengthy scenes with short sequels, will contribute to a fast pace. Longer scene/sequels or disproportionately longer sequel segments will slow down your pacing. You’ll want a good mix of both options.

The Thematic Way to Approach Scene Structure

Most of the questions I receive about scene structure are from writers who understand the structural aspect but are trying too hard to make it “perfect.” There’s no need to obsess about your scene structure. It’s there as yet another of those infamously piratical “guidelines.”

Pirates of the Caribbean Barbossa Geoffrey Rush More What You'd Call Guidelines

Solid scene structure throughout your story will help you create a cohesive narrative, in which you never have to wonder whether or not a scene is necessary or causal. But don’t feel there’s no room to breathe, to flex, or to let the narrative itself dictate the ebb and flow.

Previously, I talked about how one way to look at scene/sequel is to think of them as question/answer. Today, I’m going to give you yet another helpful analogy, this one inspired by a John Truby talk I listened to last year.

Scene = Action

Sequel = Lesson

I like this view because it emphasizes the importance of the sequel. We all get that stuff is supposed to happen in a story—action is supposed to happen, goals are supposed to be pursued.

But that’s not enough. And that is where scene structure becomes so powerful in linking plot structure with character arc. With this in mind, we could reinterpret the original approach to scene structure more like this:

Part 1: Scene (Action)

a. Goal (character wants something but tries to achieve it in a way that isn’t fully informed by the thematic Truth)

b. Conflict (because the character is not yet mentally or spiritually equipped to understand how to pursue his goal with the Truth-empowered tools he needs to accomplish it—he meets obstacles, which he either partially created himself and/or simply failed to recognize)

c. Outcome (when the character fails—partially or wholly—to reach his scene goal, he is presented with the opportunity for growth and learning)

Part 2: Sequel (Reaction/Lesson)

a. Reaction (character reacts to the outcome with the growing realization that his Lie-based tactics are failing him)

b. Dilemma (character is presented with the opportunity to learn from his failure: not just how to do better next time, but, more importantly why did he fail this time?)

c. Decision (depending on his thematic arc, the character will either learn something about his Truth or further reject it—and form a new plot goal that will help him act accordingly)

>>For more on character arcs, see: How to Write Character Arcs (Complete Series)

What Scene Structure Looks Like in Action

Once you know what scene and sequel look like, you’ll start spotting them in all your favorite books and movies.

Rule of thumb: whenever a character looks confused and/or suddenly has that “I got it!” look in his eyes, he’s probably in the midst of a sequel.

Not long ago, Wordplayer Becky Jones Fettig  requested:

I would love to see a scene from one of KM’s books dissected into the Scene and Sequel format for instruction purposes. Is that possible something KM?

Sure thing!

Below you’ll find an interplay of several different segments of scenes and sequels within a single chapter from my historical/dieselpunk novel Storming. (For context, you can read the story summary here.) I’ve created images of the text below, which you can enlarge by clicking on them.

Storming Chapter 16 Page 1

 Storming Chapter 16 Page 2

Storming Chapter 16 Page 3

Storming Chapter 16 Page 4

Storming Chapter 16 Page 5

Storming Chapter 16 Page 6

What Should Your Book Outline Look Like Free Download of Complete Outlining Transcript of Storming by K.M. Weiland

Scene structure offers writers a reliable set of guidelines for crafting scenes that work. Understanding the interplay between scene and sequel can also help you open up the vast options for enhancing them within your plot and theme.

Wordplayers, tell me your opinion! How do you feel about scene structure? Tell me in the comments!

Click the “Play” button to Listen to Audio Version (or subscribe to the Helping Writers Become Authors podcast in iTunes).

The post 4 Reasons You’re Confused About Scene Structure (With Examples) appeared first on Helping Writers Become Authors.

4 Reasons You’re Confused About Scene Structure (With Examples)

4 Reasons You're Confused About Scene Structure (With Examples)Scene structure is the backbone of strong narrative storytelling. Built properly, scenes effortlessly link one to another to create a chain of give and take, cause and effect, action and reaction, question and answer.

The whole point of scene structure is to create an ebb and flow that mimics how humans balance forward momentum with the necessary introspection to process that momentum (another analogy might be: extroversion and introversion).

Structuring Your Novel IPPY Award 165

Classic scene structure (as I discuss in my book Structuring Your Novel) looks like this:

Part 1: Scene (Action)

a. Goal (character wants something on the scene level that will ultimately help him reach his overall plot goal—and he tries to get it)

b. Conflict (character is met with an obstacle to obtaining his goal)

c. Outcome (usually disastrous, in the sense that the character does not achieve the goal or achieves only part of it)

Part 2: Sequel (Reaction)

a. Reaction (character reacts to the outcome)

b. Dilemma (character must figure out  how to overcome the new complications and still move forward toward his main plot goal)

c. Decision (character decides upon a new scene goal to cope with the new complications and move forward toward the main plot goal in a—hopefully—more effective way)

>>For an even more complete discussion of scene structure, see my series How to Structure Scenes in Your Story.

5 Reasons You’re Confused About Scenes and Sequels

I receive a lot of questions from writers who seem to be confused about scene structure, but in fact, know a lot more than they’re giving themselves credit for. Here are five important facts about scene structure that can help you stop overthinking the process.

1. Structural Scenes Have Nothing to Do With Scene Breaks

Let’s just get this one out of the way right at the start: a structural scene is one that includes all of the structural pieces mentioned above. It has nothing to do with the popular concept of scene as a portion of the story divided from the rest of the story by a scene break or chapter break.

Several structural scenes can reside within one chapter or “scene.” Or a single structural scene can span many chapters.

>>More on that in this post: 7 Questions You Have About Scenes vs. Chapters.

2. Scene Structure Isn’t Always Exact

Even if you’ve already mastered the basics, scene structure remains a complex subject if only because it isn’t always a rock-solid principle. The idea is to create an overall framework within your story that follows this give and take of scene and sequel. But this doesn’t necessarily mean every single moment within your story must nail every one of these beats.

The various parts of scenes and sequels will often bleed over into one another, sometimes expanding, sometimes compressing, sometimes combining. It’s an often intuitive dance that authors have to be confident enough to feel their way through.

3. “Incidents” and “Happenings” Don’t Follow Proper Structure

Sometimes you’ll write a “scene” that doesn’t follow proper structure at all, but is still necessary to the story. If you’re trying to religiously follow proper scene structure, this may have you freaking out.

Techniques of the Selling Writer by Dwight V. SwainBut actually, it’s totally acceptable to write the occasional scene that does not include the above-mentioned integers of proper structure. In Techniques of the Selling Author, the late great Dwight V. Swain defines two possible approaches:

An incident is a sort of abortive scene, in which your character attempts to reach a goal. But he meets with no resistance, no conflict.

A happening brings people together. But it’s non-dramatic, because no goal or conflict is involved.

You’ll want to use incidents and happenings sparingly and with care, since too many of them will quickly derail the forward progress of your plot. But neither should you be afraid of including them where necessary.

>>Find out more here: Incidents and Happenings: Scenes That Aren’t Actually Scenes.

4. Scenes and Sequels Can Be as Big or as Small as You Want

Harking back to the beginning of this section, your scenes and sequels can be so big they span many chapters or so small there are several of them within a single chapter.

This is especially true of the sequel portion of the structure. Very often, in the heat of action, characters will experience a disastrous outcome, immediately process their reaction, face the dilemma, come to a decision, and begin acting upon a new goal—all within the space of a few sentences. Indeed, the whole concept of action/reaction can be found in “Motivation-Reaction Units” on the sentence level.

>>Find out more about Motivation-Reaction Units (or MRUs) here: Motivation-Reaction Units: Cracking the Code of Good Writing

So, although you don’t need to particularly worry about the size of your scenes/sequels, there are two key things to keep in mind:

1. With few exceptions, you want to make sure all the pieces of the structure are present (at least implicitly), no matter how short or long your scene/sequel.

2. Scene structure controls your story’s pacing. Rapid-fire scene/sequel pairings, or even lengthy scenes with short sequels, will contribute to a fast pace. Longer scene/sequels or disproportionately longer sequel segments will slow down your pacing. You’ll want a good mix of both options.

The Thematic Way to Approach Scene Structure

Most of the questions I receive about scene structure are from writers who understand the structural aspect but are trying too hard to make it “perfect.” There’s no need to obsess about your scene structure. It’s there as yet another of those infamously piratical “guidelines.”

Pirates of the Caribbean Barbossa Geoffrey Rush More What You'd Call Guidelines

Solid scene structure throughout your story will help you create a cohesive narrative, in which you never have to wonder whether or not a scene is necessary or causal. But don’t feel there’s no room to breathe, to flex, or to let the narrative itself dictate the ebb and flow.

Previously, I talked about how one way to look at scene/sequel is to think of them as question/answer. Today, I’m going to give you yet another helpful analogy, this one inspired by a John Truby talk I listened to last year.

Scene = Action

Sequel = Lesson

I like this view because it emphasizes the importance of the sequel. We all get that stuff is supposed to happen in a story—action is supposed to happen, goals are supposed to be pursued.

But that’s not enough. And that is where scene structure becomes so powerful in linking plot structure with character arc. With this in mind, we could reinterpret the original approach to scene structure more like this:

Part 1: Scene (Action)

a. Goal (character wants something but tries to achieve it in a way that isn’t fully informed by the thematic Truth)

b. Conflict (because the character is not yet mentally or spiritually equipped to understand how to pursue his goal with the Truth-empowered tools he needs to accomplish it—he meets obstacles, which he either partially created himself and/or simply failed to recognize)

c. Outcome (when the character fails—partially or wholly—to reach his scene goal, he is presented with the opportunity for growth and learning)

Part 2: Sequel (Reaction/Lesson)

a. Reaction (character reacts to the outcome with the growing realization that his Lie-based tactics are failing him)

b. Dilemma (character is presented with the opportunity to learn from his failure: not just how to do better next time, but, more importantly why did he fail this time?)

c. Decision (depending on his thematic arc, the character will either learn something about his Truth or further reject it—and form a new plot goal that will help him act accordingly)

>>For more on character arcs, see: How to Write Character Arcs (Complete Series)

What Scene Structure Looks Like in Action

Once you know what scene and sequel look like, you’ll start spotting them in all your favorite books and movies.

Rule of thumb: whenever a character looks confused and/or suddenly has that “I got it!” look in his eyes, he’s probably in the midst of a sequel.

Not long ago, Wordplayer Becky Jones Fettig  requested:

I would love to see a scene from one of KM’s books dissected into the Scene and Sequel format for instruction purposes. Is that possible something KM?

Sure thing!

Below you’ll find an interplay of several different segments of scenes and sequels within a single chapter from my historical/dieselpunk novel Storming. (For context, you can read the story summary here.) I’ve created images of the text below, which you can enlarge by clicking on them.

Storming Chapter 16 Page 1

 Storming Chapter 16 Page 2

Storming Chapter 16 Page 3

Storming Chapter 16 Page 4

Storming Chapter 16 Page 5

Storming Chapter 16 Page 6

What Should Your Book Outline Look Like Free Download of Complete Outlining Transcript of Storming by K.M. Weiland

Scene structure offers writers a reliable set of guidelines for crafting scenes that work. Understanding the interplay between scene and sequel can also help you open up the vast options for enhancing them within your plot and theme.

Wordplayers, tell me your opinion! How do you feel about scene structure? Tell me in the comments!

Click the “Play” button to Listen to Audio Version (or subscribe to the Helping Writers Become Authors podcast in iTunes).

The post 4 Reasons You’re Confused About Scene Structure (With Examples) appeared first on Helping Writers Become Authors.

4 Reasons You’re Confused About Scene Structure (With Examples)

4 Reasons You're Confused About Scene Structure (With Examples)Scene structure is the backbone of strong narrative storytelling. Built properly, scenes effortlessly link one to another to create a chain of give and take, cause and effect, action and reaction, question and answer.

The whole point of scene structure is to create an ebb and flow that mimics how humans balance forward momentum with the necessary introspection to process that momentum (another analogy might be: extroversion and introversion).

Structuring Your Novel IPPY Award 165

Classic scene structure (as I discuss in my book Structuring Your Novel) looks like this:

Part 1: Scene (Action)

a. Goal (character wants something on the scene level that will ultimately help him reach his overall plot goal—and he tries to get it)

b. Conflict (character is met with an obstacle to obtaining his goal)

c. Outcome (usually disastrous, in the sense that the character does not achieve the goal or achieves only part of it)

Part 2: Sequel (Reaction)

a. Reaction (character reacts to the outcome)

b. Dilemma (character must figure out  how to overcome the new complications and still move forward toward his main plot goal)

c. Decision (character decides upon a new scene goal to cope with the new complications and move forward toward the main plot goal in a—hopefully—more effective way)

>>For an even more complete discussion of scene structure, see my series How to Structure Scenes in Your Story.

5 Reasons You’re Confused About Scenes and Sequels

I receive a lot of questions from writers who seem to be confused about scene structure, but in fact, know a lot more than they’re giving themselves credit for. Here are five important facts about scene structure that can help you stop overthinking the process.

1. Structural Scenes Have Nothing to Do With Scene Breaks

Let’s just get this one out of the way right at the start: a structural scene is one that includes all of the structural pieces mentioned above. It has nothing to do with the popular concept of scene as a portion of the story divided from the rest of the story by a scene break or chapter break.

Several structural scenes can reside within one chapter or “scene.” Or a single structural scene can span many chapters.

>>More on that in this post: 7 Questions You Have About Scenes vs. Chapters.

2. Scene Structure Isn’t Always Exact

Even if you’ve already mastered the basics, scene structure remains a complex subject if only because it isn’t always a rock-solid principle. The idea is to create an overall framework within your story that follows this give and take of scene and sequel. But this doesn’t necessarily mean every single moment within your story must nail every one of these beats.

The various parts of scenes and sequels will often bleed over into one another, sometimes expanding, sometimes compressing, sometimes combining. It’s an often intuitive dance that authors have to be confident enough to feel their way through.

3. “Incidents” and “Happenings” Don’t Follow Proper Structure

Sometimes you’ll write a “scene” that doesn’t follow proper structure at all, but is still necessary to the story. If you’re trying to religiously follow proper scene structure, this may have you freaking out.

Techniques of the Selling Writer by Dwight V. SwainBut actually, it’s totally acceptable to write the occasional scene that does not include the above-mentioned integers of proper structure. In Techniques of the Selling Author, the late great Dwight V. Swain defines two possible approaches:

An incident is a sort of abortive scene, in which your character attempts to reach a goal. But he meets with no resistance, no conflict.

A happening brings people together. But it’s non-dramatic, because no goal or conflict is involved.

You’ll want to use incidents and happenings sparingly and with care, since too many of them will quickly derail the forward progress of your plot. But neither should you be afraid of including them where necessary.

>>Find out more here: Incidents and Happenings: Scenes That Aren’t Actually Scenes.

4. Scenes and Sequels Can Be as Big or as Small as You Want

Harking back to the beginning of this section, your scenes and sequels can be so big they span many chapters or so small there are several of them within a single chapter.

This is especially true of the sequel portion of the structure. Very often, in the heat of action, characters will experience a disastrous outcome, immediately process their reaction, face the dilemma, come to a decision, and begin acting upon a new goal—all within the space of a few sentences. Indeed, the whole concept of action/reaction can be found in “Motivation-Reaction Units” on the sentence level.

>>Find out more about Motivation-Reaction Units (or MRUs) here: Motivation-Reaction Units: Cracking the Code of Good Writing

So, although you don’t need to particularly worry about the size of your scenes/sequels, there are two key things to keep in mind:

1. With few exceptions, you want to make sure all the pieces of the structure are present (at least implicitly), no matter how short or long your scene/sequel.

2. Scene structure controls your story’s pacing. Rapid-fire scene/sequel pairings, or even lengthy scenes with short sequels, will contribute to a fast pace. Longer scene/sequels or disproportionately longer sequel segments will slow down your pacing. You’ll want a good mix of both options.

The Thematic Way to Approach Scene Structure

Most of the questions I receive about scene structure are from writers who understand the structural aspect but are trying too hard to make it “perfect.” There’s no need to obsess about your scene structure. It’s there as yet another of those infamously piratical “guidelines.”

Pirates of the Caribbean Barbossa Geoffrey Rush More What You'd Call Guidelines

Solid scene structure throughout your story will help you create a cohesive narrative, in which you never have to wonder whether or not a scene is necessary or causal. But don’t feel there’s no room to breathe, to flex, or to let the narrative itself dictate the ebb and flow.

Previously, I talked about how one way to look at scene/sequel is to think of them as question/answer. Today, I’m going to give you yet another helpful analogy, this one inspired by a John Truby talk I listened to last year.

Scene = Action

Sequel = Lesson

I like this view because it emphasizes the importance of the sequel. We all get that stuff is supposed to happen in a story—action is supposed to happen, goals are supposed to be pursued.

But that’s not enough. And that is where scene structure becomes so powerful in linking plot structure with character arc. With this in mind, we could reinterpret the original approach to scene structure more like this:

Part 1: Scene (Action)

a. Goal (character wants something but tries to achieve it in a way that isn’t fully informed by the thematic Truth)

b. Conflict (because the character is not yet mentally or spiritually equipped to understand how to pursue his goal with the Truth-empowered tools he needs to accomplish it—he meets obstacles, which he either partially created himself and/or simply failed to recognize)

c. Outcome (when the character fails—partially or wholly—to reach his scene goal, he is presented with the opportunity for growth and learning)

Part 2: Sequel (Reaction/Lesson)

a. Reaction (character reacts to the outcome with the growing realization that his Lie-based tactics are failing him)

b. Dilemma (character is presented with the opportunity to learn from his failure: not just how to do better next time, but, more importantly why did he fail this time?)

c. Decision (depending on his thematic arc, the character will either learn something about his Truth or further reject it—and form a new plot goal that will help him act accordingly)

>>For more on character arcs, see: How to Write Character Arcs (Complete Series)

What Scene Structure Looks Like in Action

Once you know what scene and sequel look like, you’ll start spotting them in all your favorite books and movies.

Rule of thumb: whenever a character looks confused and/or suddenly has that “I got it!” look in his eyes, he’s probably in the midst of a sequel.

Not long ago, Wordplayer Becky Jones Fettig  requested:

I would love to see a scene from one of KM’s books dissected into the Scene and Sequel format for instruction purposes. Is that possible something KM?

Sure thing!

Below you’ll find an interplay of several different segments of scenes and sequels within a single chapter from my historical/dieselpunk novel Storming. (For context, you can read the story summary here.) I’ve created images of the text below, which you can enlarge by clicking on them.

Storming Chapter 16 Page 1

 Storming Chapter 16 Page 2

Storming Chapter 16 Page 3

Storming Chapter 16 Page 4

Storming Chapter 16 Page 5

Storming Chapter 16 Page 6

What Should Your Book Outline Look Like Free Download of Complete Outlining Transcript of Storming by K.M. Weiland

Scene structure offers writers a reliable set of guidelines for crafting scenes that work. Understanding the interplay between scene and sequel can also help you open up the vast options for enhancing them within your plot and theme.

Wordplayers, tell me your opinion! How do you feel about scene structure? Tell me in the comments!

Click the “Play” button to Listen to Audio Version (or subscribe to the Helping Writers Become Authors podcast in iTunes).

The post 4 Reasons You’re Confused About Scene Structure (With Examples) appeared first on Helping Writers Become Authors.

4 Reasons You’re Confused About Scene Structure (With Examples)

4 Reasons You're Confused About Scene Structure (With Examples)Scene structure is the backbone of strong narrative storytelling. Built properly, scenes effortlessly link one to another to create a chain of give and take, cause and effect, action and reaction, question and answer.

The whole point of scene structure is to create an ebb and flow that mimics how humans balance forward momentum with the necessary introspection to process that momentum (another analogy might be: extroversion and introversion).

Structuring Your Novel IPPY Award 165

Classic scene structure (as I discuss in my book Structuring Your Novel) looks like this:

Part 1: Scene (Action)

a. Goal (character wants something on the scene level that will ultimately help him reach his overall plot goal—and he tries to get it)

b. Conflict (character is met with an obstacle to obtaining his goal)

c. Outcome (usually disastrous, in the sense that the character does not achieve the goal or achieves only part of it)

Part 2: Sequel (Reaction)

a. Reaction (character reacts to the outcome)

b. Dilemma (character must figure out  how to overcome the new complications and still move forward toward his main plot goal)

c. Decision (character decides upon a new scene goal to cope with the new complications and move forward toward the main plot goal in a—hopefully—more effective way)

>>For an even more complete discussion of scene structure, see my series How to Structure Scenes in Your Story.

5 Reasons You’re Confused About Scenes and Sequels

I receive a lot of questions from writers who seem to be confused about scene structure, but in fact, know a lot more than they’re giving themselves credit for. Here are five important facts about scene structure that can help you stop overthinking the process.

1. Structural Scenes Have Nothing to Do With Scene Breaks

Let’s just get this one out of the way right at the start: a structural scene is one that includes all of the structural pieces mentioned above. It has nothing to do with the popular concept of scene as a portion of the story divided from the rest of the story by a scene break or chapter break.

Several structural scenes can reside within one chapter or “scene.” Or a single structural scene can span many chapters.

>>More on that in this post: 7 Questions You Have About Scenes vs. Chapters.

2. Scene Structure Isn’t Always Exact

Even if you’ve already mastered the basics, scene structure remains a complex subject if only because it isn’t always a rock-solid principle. The idea is to create an overall framework within your story that follows this give and take of scene and sequel. But this doesn’t necessarily mean every single moment within your story must nail every one of these beats.

The various parts of scenes and sequels will often bleed over into one another, sometimes expanding, sometimes compressing, sometimes combining. It’s an often intuitive dance that authors have to be confident enough to feel their way through.

3. “Incidents” and “Happenings” Don’t Follow Proper Structure

Sometimes you’ll write a “scene” that doesn’t follow proper structure at all, but is still necessary to the story. If you’re trying to religiously follow proper scene structure, this may have you freaking out.

Techniques of the Selling Writer by Dwight V. SwainBut actually, it’s totally acceptable to write the occasional scene that does not include the above-mentioned integers of proper structure. In Techniques of the Selling Author, the late great Dwight V. Swain defines two possible approaches:

An incident is a sort of abortive scene, in which your character attempts to reach a goal. But he meets with no resistance, no conflict.

A happening brings people together. But it’s non-dramatic, because no goal or conflict is involved.

You’ll want to use incidents and happenings sparingly and with care, since too many of them will quickly derail the forward progress of your plot. But neither should you be afraid of including them where necessary.

>>Find out more here: Incidents and Happenings: Scenes That Aren’t Actually Scenes.

4. Scenes and Sequels Can Be as Big or as Small as You Want

Harking back to the beginning of this section, your scenes and sequels can be so big they span many chapters or so small there are several of them within a single chapter.

This is especially true of the sequel portion of the structure. Very often, in the heat of action, characters will experience a disastrous outcome, immediately process their reaction, face the dilemma, come to a decision, and begin acting upon a new goal—all within the space of a few sentences. Indeed, the whole concept of action/reaction can be found in “Motivation-Reaction Units” on the sentence level.

>>Find out more about Motivation-Reaction Units (or MRUs) here: Motivation-Reaction Units: Cracking the Code of Good Writing

So, although you don’t need to particularly worry about the size of your scenes/sequels, there are two key things to keep in mind:

1. With few exceptions, you want to make sure all the pieces of the structure are present (at least implicitly), no matter how short or long your scene/sequel.

2. Scene structure controls your story’s pacing. Rapid-fire scene/sequel pairings, or even lengthy scenes with short sequels, will contribute to a fast pace. Longer scene/sequels or disproportionately longer sequel segments will slow down your pacing. You’ll want a good mix of both options.

The Thematic Way to Approach Scene Structure

Most of the questions I receive about scene structure are from writers who understand the structural aspect but are trying too hard to make it “perfect.” There’s no need to obsess about your scene structure. It’s there as yet another of those infamously piratical “guidelines.”

Pirates of the Caribbean Barbossa Geoffrey Rush More What You'd Call Guidelines

Solid scene structure throughout your story will help you create a cohesive narrative, in which you never have to wonder whether or not a scene is necessary or causal. But don’t feel there’s no room to breathe, to flex, or to let the narrative itself dictate the ebb and flow.

Previously, I talked about how one way to look at scene/sequel is to think of them as question/answer. Today, I’m going to give you yet another helpful analogy, this one inspired by a John Truby talk I listened to last year.

Scene = Action

Sequel = Lesson

I like this view because it emphasizes the importance of the sequel. We all get that stuff is supposed to happen in a story—action is supposed to happen, goals are supposed to be pursued.

But that’s not enough. And that is where scene structure becomes so powerful in linking plot structure with character arc. With this in mind, we could reinterpret the original approach to scene structure more like this:

Part 1: Scene (Action)

a. Goal (character wants something but tries to achieve it in a way that isn’t fully informed by the thematic Truth)

b. Conflict (because the character is not yet mentally or spiritually equipped to understand how to pursue his goal with the Truth-empowered tools he needs to accomplish it—he meets obstacles, which he either partially created himself and/or simply failed to recognize)

c. Outcome (when the character fails—partially or wholly—to reach his scene goal, he is presented with the opportunity for growth and learning)

Part 2: Sequel (Reaction/Lesson)

a. Reaction (character reacts to the outcome with the growing realization that his Lie-based tactics are failing him)

b. Dilemma (character is presented with the opportunity to learn from his failure: not just how to do better next time, but, more importantly why did he fail this time?)

c. Decision (depending on his thematic arc, the character will either learn something about his Truth or further reject it—and form a new plot goal that will help him act accordingly)

>>For more on character arcs, see: How to Write Character Arcs (Complete Series)

What Scene Structure Looks Like in Action

Once you know what scene and sequel look like, you’ll start spotting them in all your favorite books and movies.

Rule of thumb: whenever a character looks confused and/or suddenly has that “I got it!” look in his eyes, he’s probably in the midst of a sequel.

Not long ago, Wordplayer Becky Jones Fettig  requested:

I would love to see a scene from one of KM’s books dissected into the Scene and Sequel format for instruction purposes. Is that possible something KM?

Sure thing!

Below you’ll find an interplay of several different segments of scenes and sequels within a single chapter from my historical/dieselpunk novel Storming. (For context, you can read the story summary here.) I’ve created images of the text below, which you can enlarge by clicking on them.

Storming Chapter 16 Page 1

 Storming Chapter 16 Page 2

Storming Chapter 16 Page 3

Storming Chapter 16 Page 4

Storming Chapter 16 Page 5

Storming Chapter 16 Page 6

What Should Your Book Outline Look Like Free Download of Complete Outlining Transcript of Storming by K.M. Weiland

Scene structure offers writers a reliable set of guidelines for crafting scenes that work. Understanding the interplay between scene and sequel can also help you open up the vast options for enhancing them within your plot and theme.

Wordplayers, tell me your opinion! How do you feel about scene structure? Tell me in the comments!

Click the “Play” button to Listen to Audio Version (or subscribe to the Helping Writers Become Authors podcast in iTunes).

The post 4 Reasons You’re Confused About Scene Structure (With Examples) appeared first on Helping Writers Become Authors.

4 Reasons You’re Confused About Scene Structure (With Examples)

4 Reasons You're Confused About Scene Structure (With Examples)Scene structure is the backbone of strong narrative storytelling. Built properly, scenes effortlessly link one to another to create a chain of give and take, cause and effect, action and reaction, question and answer.

The whole point of scene structure is to create an ebb and flow that mimics how humans balance forward momentum with the necessary introspection to process that momentum (another analogy might be: extroversion and introversion).

Structuring Your Novel IPPY Award 165

Classic scene structure (as I discuss in my book Structuring Your Novel) looks like this:

Part 1: Scene (Action)

a. Goal (character wants something on the scene level that will ultimately help him reach his overall plot goal—and he tries to get it)

b. Conflict (character is met with an obstacle to obtaining his goal)

c. Outcome (usually disastrous, in the sense that the character does not achieve the goal or achieves only part of it)

Part 2: Sequel (Reaction)

a. Reaction (character reacts to the outcome)

b. Dilemma (character must figure out  how to overcome the new complications and still move forward toward his main plot goal)

c. Decision (character decides upon a new scene goal to cope with the new complications and move forward toward the main plot goal in a—hopefully—more effective way)

>>For an even more complete discussion of scene structure, see my series How to Structure Scenes in Your Story.

5 Reasons You’re Confused About Scenes and Sequels

I receive a lot of questions from writers who seem to be confused about scene structure, but in fact, know a lot more than they’re giving themselves credit for. Here are five important facts about scene structure that can help you stop overthinking the process.

1. Structural Scenes Have Nothing to Do With Scene Breaks

Let’s just get this one out of the way right at the start: a structural scene is one that includes all of the structural pieces mentioned above. It has nothing to do with the popular concept of scene as a portion of the story divided from the rest of the story by a scene break or chapter break.

Several structural scenes can reside within one chapter or “scene.” Or a single structural scene can span many chapters.

>>More on that in this post: 7 Questions You Have About Scenes vs. Chapters.

2. Scene Structure Isn’t Always Exact

Even if you’ve already mastered the basics, scene structure remains a complex subject if only because it isn’t always a rock-solid principle. The idea is to create an overall framework within your story that follows this give and take of scene and sequel. But this doesn’t necessarily mean every single moment within your story must nail every one of these beats.

The various parts of scenes and sequels will often bleed over into one another, sometimes expanding, sometimes compressing, sometimes combining. It’s an often intuitive dance that authors have to be confident enough to feel their way through.

3. “Incidents” and “Happenings” Don’t Follow Proper Structure

Sometimes you’ll write a “scene” that doesn’t follow proper structure at all, but is still necessary to the story. If you’re trying to religiously follow proper scene structure, this may have you freaking out.

Techniques of the Selling Writer by Dwight V. SwainBut actually, it’s totally acceptable to write the occasional scene that does not include the above-mentioned integers of proper structure. In Techniques of the Selling Author, the late great Dwight V. Swain defines two possible approaches:

An incident is a sort of abortive scene, in which your character attempts to reach a goal. But he meets with no resistance, no conflict.

A happening brings people together. But it’s non-dramatic, because no goal or conflict is involved.

You’ll want to use incidents and happenings sparingly and with care, since too many of them will quickly derail the forward progress of your plot. But neither should you be afraid of including them where necessary.

>>Find out more here: Incidents and Happenings: Scenes That Aren’t Actually Scenes.

4. Scenes and Sequels Can Be as Big or as Small as You Want

Harking back to the beginning of this section, your scenes and sequels can be so big they span many chapters or so small there are several of them within a single chapter.

This is especially true of the sequel portion of the structure. Very often, in the heat of action, characters will experience a disastrous outcome, immediately process their reaction, face the dilemma, come to a decision, and begin acting upon a new goal—all within the space of a few sentences. Indeed, the whole concept of action/reaction can be found in “Motivation-Reaction Units” on the sentence level.

>>Find out more about Motivation-Reaction Units (or MRUs) here: Motivation-Reaction Units: Cracking the Code of Good Writing

So, although you don’t need to particularly worry about the size of your scenes/sequels, there are two key things to keep in mind:

1. With few exceptions, you want to make sure all the pieces of the structure are present (at least implicitly), no matter how short or long your scene/sequel.

2. Scene structure controls your story’s pacing. Rapid-fire scene/sequel pairings, or even lengthy scenes with short sequels, will contribute to a fast pace. Longer scene/sequels or disproportionately longer sequel segments will slow down your pacing. You’ll want a good mix of both options.

The Thematic Way to Approach Scene Structure

Most of the questions I receive about scene structure are from writers who understand the structural aspect but are trying too hard to make it “perfect.” There’s no need to obsess about your scene structure. It’s there as yet another of those infamously piratical “guidelines.”

Pirates of the Caribbean Barbossa Geoffrey Rush More What You'd Call Guidelines

Solid scene structure throughout your story will help you create a cohesive narrative, in which you never have to wonder whether or not a scene is necessary or causal. But don’t feel there’s no room to breathe, to flex, or to let the narrative itself dictate the ebb and flow.

Previously, I talked about how one way to look at scene/sequel is to think of them as question/answer. Today, I’m going to give you yet another helpful analogy, this one inspired by a John Truby talk I listened to last year.

Scene = Action

Sequel = Lesson

I like this view because it emphasizes the importance of the sequel. We all get that stuff is supposed to happen in a story—action is supposed to happen, goals are supposed to be pursued.

But that’s not enough. And that is where scene structure becomes so powerful in linking plot structure with character arc. With this in mind, we could reinterpret the original approach to scene structure more like this:

Part 1: Scene (Action)

a. Goal (character wants something but tries to achieve it in a way that isn’t fully informed by the thematic Truth)

b. Conflict (because the character is not yet mentally or spiritually equipped to understand how to pursue his goal with the Truth-empowered tools he needs to accomplish it—he meets obstacles, which he either partially created himself and/or simply failed to recognize)

c. Outcome (when the character fails—partially or wholly—to reach his scene goal, he is presented with the opportunity for growth and learning)

Part 2: Sequel (Reaction/Lesson)

a. Reaction (character reacts to the outcome with the growing realization that his Lie-based tactics are failing him)

b. Dilemma (character is presented with the opportunity to learn from his failure: not just how to do better next time, but, more importantly why did he fail this time?)

c. Decision (depending on his thematic arc, the character will either learn something about his Truth or further reject it—and form a new plot goal that will help him act accordingly)

>>For more on character arcs, see: How to Write Character Arcs (Complete Series)

What Scene Structure Looks Like in Action

Once you know what scene and sequel look like, you’ll start spotting them in all your favorite books and movies.

Rule of thumb: whenever a character looks confused and/or suddenly has that “I got it!” look in his eyes, he’s probably in the midst of a sequel.

Not long ago, Wordplayer Becky Jones Fettig  requested:

I would love to see a scene from one of KM’s books dissected into the Scene and Sequel format for instruction purposes. Is that possible something KM?

Sure thing!

Below you’ll find an interplay of several different segments of scenes and sequels within a single chapter from my historical/dieselpunk novel Storming. (For context, you can read the story summary here.) I’ve created images of the text below, which you can enlarge by clicking on them.

Storming Chapter 16 Page 1

 Storming Chapter 16 Page 2

Storming Chapter 16 Page 3

Storming Chapter 16 Page 4

Storming Chapter 16 Page 5

Storming Chapter 16 Page 6

What Should Your Book Outline Look Like Free Download of Complete Outlining Transcript of Storming by K.M. Weiland

Scene structure offers writers a reliable set of guidelines for crafting scenes that work. Understanding the interplay between scene and sequel can also help you open up the vast options for enhancing them within your plot and theme.

Wordplayers, tell me your opinion! How do you feel about scene structure? Tell me in the comments!

Click the “Play” button to Listen to Audio Version (or subscribe to the Helping Writers Become Authors podcast in iTunes).

The post 4 Reasons You’re Confused About Scene Structure (With Examples) appeared first on Helping Writers Become Authors.

4 Reasons You’re Confused About Scene Structure (With Examples)

4 Reasons You're Confused About Scene Structure (With Examples)Scene structure is the backbone of strong narrative storytelling. Built properly, scenes effortlessly link one to another to create a chain of give and take, cause and effect, action and reaction, question and answer.

The whole point of scene structure is to create an ebb and flow that mimics how humans balance forward momentum with the necessary introspection to process that momentum (another analogy might be: extroversion and introversion).

Structuring Your Novel IPPY Award 165

Classic scene structure (as I discuss in my book Structuring Your Novel) looks like this:

Part 1: Scene (Action)

a. Goal (character wants something on the scene level that will ultimately help him reach his overall plot goal—and he tries to get it)

b. Conflict (character is met with an obstacle to obtaining his goal)

c. Outcome (usually disastrous, in the sense that the character does not achieve the goal or achieves only part of it)

Part 2: Sequel (Reaction)

a. Reaction (character reacts to the outcome)

b. Dilemma (character must figure out  how to overcome the new complications and still move forward toward his main plot goal)

c. Decision (character decides upon a new scene goal to cope with the new complications and move forward toward the main plot goal in a—hopefully—more effective way)

>>For an even more complete discussion of scene structure, see my series How to Structure Scenes in Your Story.

5 Reasons You’re Confused About Scenes and Sequels

I receive a lot of questions from writers who seem to be confused about scene structure, but in fact, know a lot more than they’re giving themselves credit for. Here are five important facts about scene structure that can help you stop overthinking the process.

1. Structural Scenes Have Nothing to Do With Scene Breaks

Let’s just get this one out of the way right at the start: a structural scene is one that includes all of the structural pieces mentioned above. It has nothing to do with the popular concept of scene as a portion of the story divided from the rest of the story by a scene break or chapter break.

Several structural scenes can reside within one chapter or “scene.” Or a single structural scene can span many chapters.

>>More on that in this post: 7 Questions You Have About Scenes vs. Chapters.

2. Scene Structure Isn’t Always Exact

Even if you’ve already mastered the basics, scene structure remains a complex subject if only because it isn’t always a rock-solid principle. The idea is to create an overall framework within your story that follows this give and take of scene and sequel. But this doesn’t necessarily mean every single moment within your story must nail every one of these beats.

The various parts of scenes and sequels will often bleed over into one another, sometimes expanding, sometimes compressing, sometimes combining. It’s an often intuitive dance that authors have to be confident enough to feel their way through.

3. “Incidents” and “Happenings” Don’t Follow Proper Structure

Sometimes you’ll write a “scene” that doesn’t follow proper structure at all, but is still necessary to the story. If you’re trying to religiously follow proper scene structure, this may have you freaking out.

Techniques of the Selling Writer by Dwight V. SwainBut actually, it’s totally acceptable to write the occasional scene that does not include the above-mentioned integers of proper structure. In Techniques of the Selling Author, the late great Dwight V. Swain defines two possible approaches:

An incident is a sort of abortive scene, in which your character attempts to reach a goal. But he meets with no resistance, no conflict.

A happening brings people together. But it’s non-dramatic, because no goal or conflict is involved.

You’ll want to use incidents and happenings sparingly and with care, since too many of them will quickly derail the forward progress of your plot. But neither should you be afraid of including them where necessary.

>>Find out more here: Incidents and Happenings: Scenes That Aren’t Actually Scenes.

4. Scenes and Sequels Can Be as Big or as Small as You Want

Harking back to the beginning of this section, your scenes and sequels can be so big they span many chapters or so small there are several of them within a single chapter.

This is especially true of the sequel portion of the structure. Very often, in the heat of action, characters will experience a disastrous outcome, immediately process their reaction, face the dilemma, come to a decision, and begin acting upon a new goal—all within the space of a few sentences. Indeed, the whole concept of action/reaction can be found in “Motivation-Reaction Units” on the sentence level.

>>Find out more about Motivation-Reaction Units (or MRUs) here: Motivation-Reaction Units: Cracking the Code of Good Writing

So, although you don’t need to particularly worry about the size of your scenes/sequels, there are two key things to keep in mind:

1. With few exceptions, you want to make sure all the pieces of the structure are present (at least implicitly), no matter how short or long your scene/sequel.

2. Scene structure controls your story’s pacing. Rapid-fire scene/sequel pairings, or even lengthy scenes with short sequels, will contribute to a fast pace. Longer scene/sequels or disproportionately longer sequel segments will slow down your pacing. You’ll want a good mix of both options.

The Thematic Way to Approach Scene Structure

Most of the questions I receive about scene structure are from writers who understand the structural aspect but are trying too hard to make it “perfect.” There’s no need to obsess about your scene structure. It’s there as yet another of those infamously piratical “guidelines.”

Pirates of the Caribbean Barbossa Geoffrey Rush More What You'd Call Guidelines

Solid scene structure throughout your story will help you create a cohesive narrative, in which you never have to wonder whether or not a scene is necessary or causal. But don’t feel there’s no room to breathe, to flex, or to let the narrative itself dictate the ebb and flow.

Previously, I talked about how one way to look at scene/sequel is to think of them as question/answer. Today, I’m going to give you yet another helpful analogy, this one inspired by a John Truby talk I listened to last year.

Scene = Action

Sequel = Lesson

I like this view because it emphasizes the importance of the sequel. We all get that stuff is supposed to happen in a story—action is supposed to happen, goals are supposed to be pursued.

But that’s not enough. And that is where scene structure becomes so powerful in linking plot structure with character arc. With this in mind, we could reinterpret the original approach to scene structure more like this:

Part 1: Scene (Action)

a. Goal (character wants something but tries to achieve it in a way that isn’t fully informed by the thematic Truth)

b. Conflict (because the character is not yet mentally or spiritually equipped to understand how to pursue his goal with the Truth-empowered tools he needs to accomplish it—he meets obstacles, which he either partially created himself and/or simply failed to recognize)

c. Outcome (when the character fails—partially or wholly—to reach his scene goal, he is presented with the opportunity for growth and learning)

Part 2: Sequel (Reaction/Lesson)

a. Reaction (character reacts to the outcome with the growing realization that his Lie-based tactics are failing him)

b. Dilemma (character is presented with the opportunity to learn from his failure: not just how to do better next time, but, more importantly why did he fail this time?)

c. Decision (depending on his thematic arc, the character will either learn something about his Truth or further reject it—and form a new plot goal that will help him act accordingly)

>>For more on character arcs, see: How to Write Character Arcs (Complete Series)

What Scene Structure Looks Like in Action

Once you know what scene and sequel look like, you’ll start spotting them in all your favorite books and movies.

Rule of thumb: whenever a character looks confused and/or suddenly has that “I got it!” look in his eyes, he’s probably in the midst of a sequel.

Not long ago, Wordplayer Becky Jones Fettig  requested:

I would love to see a scene from one of KM’s books dissected into the Scene and Sequel format for instruction purposes. Is that possible something KM?

Sure thing!

Below you’ll find an interplay of several different segments of scenes and sequels within a single chapter from my historical/dieselpunk novel Storming. (For context, you can read the story summary here.) I’ve created images of the text below, which you can enlarge by clicking on them.

Storming Chapter 16 Page 1

 Storming Chapter 16 Page 2

Storming Chapter 16 Page 3

Storming Chapter 16 Page 4

Storming Chapter 16 Page 5

Storming Chapter 16 Page 6

What Should Your Book Outline Look Like Free Download of Complete Outlining Transcript of Storming by K.M. Weiland

Scene structure offers writers a reliable set of guidelines for crafting scenes that work. Understanding the interplay between scene and sequel can also help you open up the vast options for enhancing them within your plot and theme.

Wordplayers, tell me your opinion! How do you feel about scene structure? Tell me in the comments!

Click the “Play” button to Listen to Audio Version (or subscribe to the Helping Writers Become Authors podcast in iTunes).

The post 4 Reasons You’re Confused About Scene Structure (With Examples) appeared first on Helping Writers Become Authors.

4 Reasons You’re Confused About Scene Structure (With Examples)

4 Reasons You're Confused About Scene Structure (With Examples)Scene structure is the backbone of strong narrative storytelling. Built properly, scenes effortlessly link one to another to create a chain of give and take, cause and effect, action and reaction, question and answer.

The whole point of scene structure is to create an ebb and flow that mimics how humans balance forward momentum with the necessary introspection to process that momentum (another analogy might be: extroversion and introversion).

Structuring Your Novel IPPY Award 165

Classic scene structure (as I discuss in my book Structuring Your Novel) looks like this:

Part 1: Scene (Action)

a. Goal (character wants something on the scene level that will ultimately help him reach his overall plot goal—and he tries to get it)

b. Conflict (character is met with an obstacle to obtaining his goal)

c. Outcome (usually disastrous, in the sense that the character does not achieve the goal or achieves only part of it)

Part 2: Sequel (Reaction)

a. Reaction (character reacts to the outcome)

b. Dilemma (character must figure out  how to overcome the new complications and still move forward toward his main plot goal)

c. Decision (character decides upon a new scene goal to cope with the new complications and move forward toward the main plot goal in a—hopefully—more effective way)

>>For an even more complete discussion of scene structure, see my series How to Structure Scenes in Your Story.

5 Reasons You’re Confused About Scenes and Sequels

I receive a lot of questions from writers who seem to be confused about scene structure, but in fact, know a lot more than they’re giving themselves credit for. Here are five important facts about scene structure that can help you stop overthinking the process.

1. Structural Scenes Have Nothing to Do With Scene Breaks

Let’s just get this one out of the way right at the start: a structural scene is one that includes all of the structural pieces mentioned above. It has nothing to do with the popular concept of scene as a portion of the story divided from the rest of the story by a scene break or chapter break.

Several structural scenes can reside within one chapter or “scene.” Or a single structural scene can span many chapters.

>>More on that in this post: 7 Questions You Have About Scenes vs. Chapters.

2. Scene Structure Isn’t Always Exact

Even if you’ve already mastered the basics, scene structure remains a complex subject if only because it isn’t always a rock-solid principle. The idea is to create an overall framework within your story that follows this give and take of scene and sequel. But this doesn’t necessarily mean every single moment within your story must nail every one of these beats.

The various parts of scenes and sequels will often bleed over into one another, sometimes expanding, sometimes compressing, sometimes combining. It’s an often intuitive dance that authors have to be confident enough to feel their way through.

3. “Incidents” and “Happenings” Don’t Follow Proper Structure

Sometimes you’ll write a “scene” that doesn’t follow proper structure at all, but is still necessary to the story. If you’re trying to religiously follow proper scene structure, this may have you freaking out.

Techniques of the Selling Writer by Dwight V. SwainBut actually, it’s totally acceptable to write the occasional scene that does not include the above-mentioned integers of proper structure. In Techniques of the Selling Author, the late great Dwight V. Swain defines two possible approaches:

An incident is a sort of abortive scene, in which your character attempts to reach a goal. But he meets with no resistance, no conflict.

A happening brings people together. But it’s non-dramatic, because no goal or conflict is involved.

You’ll want to use incidents and happenings sparingly and with care, since too many of them will quickly derail the forward progress of your plot. But neither should you be afraid of including them where necessary.

>>Find out more here: Incidents and Happenings: Scenes That Aren’t Actually Scenes.

4. Scenes and Sequels Can Be as Big or as Small as You Want

Harking back to the beginning of this section, your scenes and sequels can be so big they span many chapters or so small there are several of them within a single chapter.

This is especially true of the sequel portion of the structure. Very often, in the heat of action, characters will experience a disastrous outcome, immediately process their reaction, face the dilemma, come to a decision, and begin acting upon a new goal—all within the space of a few sentences. Indeed, the whole concept of action/reaction can be found in “Motivation-Reaction Units” on the sentence level.

>>Find out more about Motivation-Reaction Units (or MRUs) here: Motivation-Reaction Units: Cracking the Code of Good Writing

So, although you don’t need to particularly worry about the size of your scenes/sequels, there are two key things to keep in mind:

1. With few exceptions, you want to make sure all the pieces of the structure are present (at least implicitly), no matter how short or long your scene/sequel.

2. Scene structure controls your story’s pacing. Rapid-fire scene/sequel pairings, or even lengthy scenes with short sequels, will contribute to a fast pace. Longer scene/sequels or disproportionately longer sequel segments will slow down your pacing. You’ll want a good mix of both options.

The Thematic Way to Approach Scene Structure

Most of the questions I receive about scene structure are from writers who understand the structural aspect but are trying too hard to make it “perfect.” There’s no need to obsess about your scene structure. It’s there as yet another of those infamously piratical “guidelines.”

Pirates of the Caribbean Barbossa Geoffrey Rush More What You'd Call Guidelines

Solid scene structure throughout your story will help you create a cohesive narrative, in which you never have to wonder whether or not a scene is necessary or causal. But don’t feel there’s no room to breathe, to flex, or to let the narrative itself dictate the ebb and flow.

Previously, I talked about how one way to look at scene/sequel is to think of them as question/answer. Today, I’m going to give you yet another helpful analogy, this one inspired by a John Truby talk I listened to last year.

Scene = Action

Sequel = Lesson

I like this view because it emphasizes the importance of the sequel. We all get that stuff is supposed to happen in a story—action is supposed to happen, goals are supposed to be pursued.

But that’s not enough. And that is where scene structure becomes so powerful in linking plot structure with character arc. With this in mind, we could reinterpret the original approach to scene structure more like this:

Part 1: Scene (Action)

a. Goal (character wants something but tries to achieve it in a way that isn’t fully informed by the thematic Truth)

b. Conflict (because the character is not yet mentally or spiritually equipped to understand how to pursue his goal with the Truth-empowered tools he needs to accomplish it—he meets obstacles, which he either partially created himself and/or simply failed to recognize)

c. Outcome (when the character fails—partially or wholly—to reach his scene goal, he is presented with the opportunity for growth and learning)

Part 2: Sequel (Reaction/Lesson)

a. Reaction (character reacts to the outcome with the growing realization that his Lie-based tactics are failing him)

b. Dilemma (character is presented with the opportunity to learn from his failure: not just how to do better next time, but, more importantly why did he fail this time?)

c. Decision (depending on his thematic arc, the character will either learn something about his Truth or further reject it—and form a new plot goal that will help him act accordingly)

>>For more on character arcs, see: How to Write Character Arcs (Complete Series)

What Scene Structure Looks Like in Action

Once you know what scene and sequel look like, you’ll start spotting them in all your favorite books and movies.

Rule of thumb: whenever a character looks confused and/or suddenly has that “I got it!” look in his eyes, he’s probably in the midst of a sequel.

Not long ago, Wordplayer Becky Jones Fettig  requested:

I would love to see a scene from one of KM’s books dissected into the Scene and Sequel format for instruction purposes. Is that possible something KM?

Sure thing!

Below you’ll find an interplay of several different segments of scenes and sequels within a single chapter from my historical/dieselpunk novel Storming. (For context, you can read the story summary here.) I’ve created images of the text below, which you can enlarge by clicking on them.

Storming Chapter 16 Page 1

 Storming Chapter 16 Page 2

Storming Chapter 16 Page 3

Storming Chapter 16 Page 4

Storming Chapter 16 Page 5

Storming Chapter 16 Page 6

What Should Your Book Outline Look Like Free Download of Complete Outlining Transcript of Storming by K.M. Weiland

Scene structure offers writers a reliable set of guidelines for crafting scenes that work. Understanding the interplay between scene and sequel can also help you open up the vast options for enhancing them within your plot and theme.

Wordplayers, tell me your opinion! How do you feel about scene structure? Tell me in the comments!

Click the “Play” button to Listen to Audio Version (or subscribe to the Helping Writers Become Authors podcast in iTunes).

The post 4 Reasons You’re Confused About Scene Structure (With Examples) appeared first on Helping Writers Become Authors.

Preparing for NaNoWriMo: Your Guide to Outlining Success

Preparing for NaNoWriMo: Your Guide to Outlining SuccessForget turkeys and football. NaNoWriMo—or National Novel Writing Month—has turned November into  “da Writing Month.” But as so many authors have learned over the years, the best way to be successful in November is to start preparing for NaNoWriMo in October (aka Preptober).

If you’re going to have a decent shot at writing 50k good words in 30 days, you’ll want to have some solid preparation—aka outlining—under your belt before you start.

In past years, I’ve written extensively about how to do this, so I won’t risk repeating myself this year, but rather just direct you to my series on outlining for NaNo, as well as my published resources, such as my books and my brand-new Outlining Your Novel Workbook software, which is perfect for getting all your thoughts lined out before the big novel-writing rush begins.

Outlining Your Novel: Map Your Way to Success by K.M. Weiland Outlining Your Novel Workbook Structuring Your Novel IPPY Award 165 Structuring Your Novel Workbook Creating Character Arcs Creating Character Arcs Workbook 165

How to Outline for NaNoWriMo (Complete Series)

Part 1: Should You Outline Your Novel?

Should you outline your novel before the first draft? And, if you do, how much is the right amount for you? Get ready to write your best novel with this new series!

Part 2: Start Your Outline With These 4 Questions

Where do you start your outline? Right here! Use these these four questions to discover the big-picture “skeleton” of your story’s plot.

Part 3: 3 Steps to Find the Heart of Your Story

Can you outline your story’s theme? If you start by asking yourself these three questions, you will be able to find the heart of your story every time.

Part 4: How to Find and Fill All Your Plot Holes

When you approach plot holes purposefully during your outline, filling them in can be one of the most enjoyable parts of the entire writing process.

Part 5: How to Write Backstory That Matters

Backstory influences plot events, character motives, and thematic subtext. Here are the only 4 questions you need to find your best backstory.

Part 6: 3 Tips for Weaving Together Your Story’s Pieces

It’s impossible to figure out how to outline any one aspect of your story in isolation. Instead, learn 3 ways to “bob and weave” from one to the next.

Part 7: How to Structure Your Story’s Outline

Once you’ve discovered a general idea of your plot, you can use these three steps to figure out how to structure your story’s outline.

Part 8: Making the Most of Character Interviews

Character interviews increase both the ease of writing a new character and his success in driving your plot. Grab my master list of interview questions!

Part 9: How to Write a Scene Outline You Can Use

Here are 6 tricks to making the most of the final outlining step. You’ve been waiting for it a long time, and here it is: how to write a scene outline!

Part 10: How to Outline a Series of Bestselling Books

Figuring out how to outline a series may explode your preconceptions about the process and teach you so much more about outlining and storycraft in general.

Bonus: 6 Tasks You’ll Love Yourself for Checking Off Your NaNo Pre-Writing List

Don’t head into November without a plan. Arm yourself with this NaNo Pre-Writing List and you’ll already be more than halfway to NaNoWriMo victory!

Wordplayers, tell me your opinion! Will you be preparing for NaNoWriMo this year? Why or why not? Tell me in the comments!

The post Preparing for NaNoWriMo: Your Guide to Outlining Success appeared first on Helping Writers Become Authors.

Preparing for NaNoWriMo: Your Guide to Outlining Success

Preparing for NaNoWriMo: Your Guide to Outlining SuccessForget turkeys and football. NaNoWriMo—or National Novel Writing Month—has turned November into  “da Writing Month.” But as so many authors have learned over the years, the best way to be successful in November is to start preparing for NaNoWriMo in October (aka Preptober).

If you’re going to have a decent shot at writing 50k good words in 30 days, you’ll want to have some solid preparation—aka outlining—under your belt before you start.

In past years, I’ve written extensively about how to do this, so I won’t risk repeating myself this year, but rather just direct you to my series on outlining for NaNo, as well as my published resources, such as my books and my brand-new Outlining Your Novel Workbook software, which is perfect for getting all your thoughts lined out before the big novel-writing rush begins.

Outlining Your Novel: Map Your Way to Success by K.M. Weiland Outlining Your Novel Workbook Structuring Your Novel IPPY Award 165 Structuring Your Novel Workbook Creating Character Arcs Creating Character Arcs Workbook 165

How to Outline for NaNoWriMo (Complete Series)

Part 1: Should You Outline Your Novel?

Should you outline your novel before the first draft? And, if you do, how much is the right amount for you? Get ready to write your best novel with this new series!

Part 2: Start Your Outline With These 4 Questions

Where do you start your outline? Right here! Use these these four questions to discover the big-picture “skeleton” of your story’s plot.

Part 3: 3 Steps to Find the Heart of Your Story

Can you outline your story’s theme? If you start by asking yourself these three questions, you will be able to find the heart of your story every time.

Part 4: How to Find and Fill All Your Plot Holes

When you approach plot holes purposefully during your outline, filling them in can be one of the most enjoyable parts of the entire writing process.

Part 5: How to Write Backstory That Matters

Backstory influences plot events, character motives, and thematic subtext. Here are the only 4 questions you need to find your best backstory.

Part 6: 3 Tips for Weaving Together Your Story’s Pieces

It’s impossible to figure out how to outline any one aspect of your story in isolation. Instead, learn 3 ways to “bob and weave” from one to the next.

Part 7: How to Structure Your Story’s Outline

Once you’ve discovered a general idea of your plot, you can use these three steps to figure out how to structure your story’s outline.

Part 8: Making the Most of Character Interviews

Character interviews increase both the ease of writing a new character and his success in driving your plot. Grab my master list of interview questions!

Part 9: How to Write a Scene Outline You Can Use

Here are 6 tricks to making the most of the final outlining step. You’ve been waiting for it a long time, and here it is: how to write a scene outline!

Part 10: How to Outline a Series of Bestselling Books

Figuring out how to outline a series may explode your preconceptions about the process and teach you so much more about outlining and storycraft in general.

Bonus: 6 Tasks You’ll Love Yourself for Checking Off Your NaNo Pre-Writing List

Don’t head into November without a plan. Arm yourself with this NaNo Pre-Writing List and you’ll already be more than halfway to NaNoWriMo victory!

Wordplayers, tell me your opinion! Will you be preparing for NaNoWriMo this year? Why or why not? Tell me in the comments!

The post Preparing for NaNoWriMo: Your Guide to Outlining Success appeared first on Helping Writers Become Authors.

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