So far we’ve discussed discovering the PREMISE for your story. Then you explored the BIG MOMENTS (turning points or plot points) and how they complicated your character’s life then how that affected them, ending with some major problems your character must deal with.

Today we’ll start imagining some scenes in the book.

Every book is similar to a screenplay in that it consists of scenes which move the story along. The scenes must be cohesive, sequential (unless there’s a flashback or flashforward, foreshadowing), essential to the plot movement and end on an upnote to keep the reader wanting more. Generally, a chapter is a scene. 

Sometimes you can have several scenes within one chapter, if they all relate. Just remember to end on a cliffhanger. Keep the reader guessing and intrigued. That’s why a chapter should end with someone about to be in trouble of some sort, or solving something big in the plotline—but in the next chapter.

Just think about the end of every serial show on television—they always show what’s coming next week to keep you coming back. And how do they ALL end for the season? On a cliffhanger, of course.

So, looking at your list of BIG MOMENTS from last month, start with any moment (turning point/plot point) and imagine what scenes might occur within that time-frame of the story. Make sure you cover the and thens and affects you thought of earlier and any more you might come up with.

I always work sequentially, but that’s just me. You can start with any plot point you find interesting or have ideas for and work out from there. It's sometimes helpful to begin at the end and work forward--especially if you know your ending.

Don’t worry about whether or not you will actually USE the scene. Write down just enough to remember the basics of it and move as fast as you can through each plot point. The scenes don’t have to be in any order yet, either. You’re just brainstorming at this point.

Here are my first five scenes when I brainstormed:
1.      Rayna is helping sell bolts of fabric when Peacers arrive and chase her through bazaar. She’s thrown into wagon with other girls. Woman who turned her in is smashed when wagon turns around. (This actually became my entire first chapter with many changes and additions)
2.      Rayna meets Deena and Renee on wagon
3.      Given Suzy’s (name changed) bunk in Gestortium. She has to chase away other ghosts when they realize she can see/hear them
4.      First night Rayna can’t sleep—some girls crying, moaning, snoring
5.      Fascinated by History lessons because never had schooling while others all bored—heard it all growing up normally

I even included flashbacks and premonitions/visions/foreshadowings in my scene brainstorming. I ended up with about twenty written pages of notes.

Next you type them onto a Word document with spaces between. Print them out and cut them up. Finally, you will arrange and rearrange these scenes as you build you chapters. You might even throw some out (I did) or add others as needed (I did).

Once you have them organized, paperclip each stack with sticky notes denoting the chapter number and put them into order.

Next month, the heart, liver, kidneys and brain of the story: Motive, Desire, Goal, Conflict, Theme.

Thanks to K.M. Weiland’s Outlining Your Novel

Rebecca Ryals Russell, a fourth-generation Floridian, was born in Gainesville, grew up in Ft Lauderdale then lived in Orlando and Jacksonville with her Irish husband and four children. Due to the sudden death of Rebecca's mother, they moved to Wellborn, near Lake City, to care for her father, moving into his Victorian home built in 1909. After teaching Middle Graders for fourteen years she retired and began writing the story idea which had been brewing for thirty years.  Within six months she wrote the first three books of each series, YA Seraphym Wars and MG Stardust Warriors. The world she created has generated numerous other story ideas including two current works in progress, SageBorn Chronicles based on various mythologies of the world and aimed at the lower Middle Grade reader and Saving Innocence, another MG series set on Dracwald and involving dragons and Majikals. She is finishing a YA Dystopian Romance which has been a NaNoWriMo project for three years. She loves reading YA Fantasy, Horror and Sci Fi as well as watching movies.  Read more about Rebecca and her WIPs as well as how to buy books in her various series at  You may email her at


Karen Cioffi said...

Rebecca, another helpful post. I look forward to next month's installment.

Magdalena Ball said...

This is quite a unique and interesting way of plotting Rebecca. I tend to do it all with spreadsheets, but your idea of cutting out and reorganising is a good one (great for block too).

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