Tag Archives: structure

Practical Prompt 6-7-17

WriteOwls logo 150 blackYou finally have a moment to write, but what to do with your limited time? Here’s a practical prompt to kickstart the story you’re working on right now. The clock is ticking, people. Start writing.

If you’re foundering in your story’s second act, the problem could be you’re not as sure of your story’s direction as you thought you were. Try skipping the middle and write the climax first. Once you have a firm beginning and end, it’s easier to see the path you’ll need to take your characters down to prepare them for the end.

Writing the Scene that Won’t Be Written

Megan Norris Jones

Megan Norris Jones

There’s a reason you can’t write that scene. You know, the one that keeps winking maliciously on a blank screen with its little cursor whenever you open your manuscript. The one that makes cleaning the house sound appealing. That one.

It might be laziness or a penchant for superfluous online research that gets in your way. It might be because your kid keeps interrupting or because you can’t force yourself out of bed early enough to write it before the rest of the day begins. These are the usual culprits. Look for them first. But the reason for your stalled-out scene might be something else, something totally unrelated to your everyday life and directly rooted in your writing. Continue reading

Learning the Lingo

Laura Ayo

Laura Ayo

If you’re a swimmer, you know you swim fly, back, breast and free in that order in the IM. If you know nothing about swimming, you are likely feeling like a foreigner in a country where everyone but you speaks the same language. It’s an uncomfortable, frustrating position to be in. Yet, every hobby and sport has its own lingo, just as every profession, including writing, does. I was reminded of this fact last week while talking with some writer friends. I used the acronym WIP during our conversation and one of the women interrupted me to ask what it meant. “Work in progress,” another answered. Since then, I’ve been thinking about how much there is to learn when it comes to writing terminology. Continue reading

Practical Prompt 7/6/16: Scene Structure Part 1



For our June “Learn to Write by Reading” challenge, we invited you to examine books that had well constructed scenes. Now, apply what you learned to your own manuscript.

Look at a scene that you particularly enjoyed from the book you read for this month’s challenge. What elements made the scene work? Often, the underlying structure is well hidden, but a dynamic scene will open with a character who has a specific goal. Notice that the character’s goal in an individual scene is not generally the same as the character’s larger story goal; rather it is a small step in the story goal’s direction. Other characters, though, have different agendas which will put them in conflict with the scene’s main character. That conflict is one of the things that makes a scene interesting.

Take a scene you’re having problems with from your work in progress. If the scene is too ho-hum, there may not be enough conflict. Ask yourself if your scene’s main character has a specific goal at the beginning of the scene. If not, give her one. Then make sure other characters and/or circumstances work against the major character as she tries to achieve her goal.  That will help ratchet up the drama and interest level throughout the scene.

Learn to Write By Reading: Scene Structure



Successful writers say it all the time: To be a good writer, you need to be a good reader. So we challenge you to read more and to read outside of your comfort zone.

This month, find the underlying scene structure in the current book you’re reading. Good writers keep readers turning the pages by crafting one scene that builds on the next in an inevitable, but surprising way. As you read this month, make note of patterns you see from scene to scene so you can identify what keeps you interested in the story and what makes you want to skip ahead. Below are some books we recommend, but feel free to chime in and offer other options to our readers. Then stay tuned for some practical prompts based on our Reading Challenge that you can apply to your own writing.

Alicia: Wicked Lovely by Melissa Marr

Laura: The disreputable history of Frankie Landau-banks by E. Lockhart

Megan: Arcadia by Lain Pears

Naomi: Wonderstruck by Brian Selznick

Stacey: Neverwhere by Neil Gaiman