As it turns out, writing fiction is a bit different from reading it. As you may recall, after I finished the first draft of my novel, I sent it to my novelist friend and she graciously read it and offered me edits. If you’re a writer, I highly recommend peer review by someone who knows about writing! My friend was able to pinpoint things that were good about my draft that I hadn’t even known I was doing and also help me to see where the problems were.
Since that time I’ve toyed with rewrites and new outlines and other bits and pieces of things, but I felt like I didn’t really know how to fix some of the more glaring problems with my manuscript. I knew what the problem was, but not what to do to rectify it. Therefore, and I know this will shock you to your core, I decided to read a book.
Scene & Structure is an exceptionally helpful book if you have all or most of a first draft. It breaks down the classic components of how to structure a scene and a plot line, then shows you how to deviate from the classic model (which you can only really successfully do if you understand what you’re deviating from). Throughout, the book is well organized and easy to implement. As I read, I considered my own draft and ways I could move scenes around and add more depth and conflict to the story.
At the end of the book, the author describes his own process for outlining, and gives a generic sample of how he usually sets up his stories. Most writers have a general flow to their stories, which is not to say that their books are all formulaic or similar to each other in plot at all, but rather that the writer has his or her own favored pacing and development style. After reading the author’s sample generic outline, I wrote up one of my own using more of the structure and scene development framework I learned from the book. Next I need to overlay the plot of my actual book and tie specific scenes to my framework.
I’ve read quite a few books on writing now, many of which contain similar information to this one, but Scene & Structure packages the material the most helpfully and in a way that I found ideal for my own stage of writing. I think you could still use this book if you don’t have a draft or are early in your draft, but you might want to revisit it after your first draft is complete too so that you can use concrete examples.
Overall this is one of the better writing books I’ve come across so far, and I’d recommend it.
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