Friday, November 2, 2012

Storyteller's Journey

The Domino Effect

I spend much more time than I should contemplating story structure. Like most aspiring authors, I have read numerous books on the craft of writing. However, even though my brain is full of "how-to" tips on writing a successful novel, I still have those ah-ha moments.

After finishing another revision for my W.I.P. I was painfully aware that I had not taken my story across the finish line. "What is it?" I thought. I realized that my story felt disjointed and lacked continuity, so I took a closer look at my scenes. I decided to use 3X5 cards and record every scene in my story. I asked myself the following questions:

What is the mission of the scene?
What is the desire of the protagonist in the scene?
What information is learned in the scene that is important to the main plot?
What is the scene's climax?
(Plus several more pertinent questions gleaned from various sources.)

The last question I asked myself was the clincher:
What change occurs at the end of the scene to propel the story to the next scene? Although I am very aware of the need to end each scene with momentum; on several scenes I had failed. Then I had a picture in my mind of dominoes. An ah-ha moment: If just one domino fails to fall, the chain reaction (that is so enticing to watch) will be broken. The Domino Effect applied to my story! I realized that with a number of my scenes losing momentum, the flow of my story, and its pace, had faltered.

           (Shown below are my fifty-eight "domino" note cards with information on both sides.)


As frustrating as this revelation was, it came at a great time: Tomorrow I'll be attending Getting It Right! - Revision Intensive Workshop taught by the accomplished author, Suzanne Morgan Williams.

As I put more muscle on my manuscript it's requiring that my own writing muscles be flexed in the process!


  1. Excellent post, Victoria.

  2. Ooo, love the domino comparison. That's a great way to think of it, easy to visualize. I'll have to keep that in mind as I go through my work.

    1. Thanks, Sara. It really helped me,too.
      Have a great weekend!

  3. Good post. I know for a long time I was thinking only about the book's arc, not each scene, and recently I got feedback on one of the many rewrites of my book about how each scene needs to build to a particular focus. What a difference that insight made!

    Hope you have a great workshop!

    1. Thanks so much, Elizabeth. Hope you have a wonderful weekend!

  4. Oh my, you are in good company. I do this too. One day hopefully our brains will do this automatically as we write. Wouldn't that be swell?
    I tagged you on my blog if you wanna play writing-tag.

    1. Hey, thanks, Tanya. I just dropped by "Life's Like That," your blog is great!
      I'll answer the tough questions next week! ^_^