How to Outline a Scene like a Pro

Hello, lovely people, I hope you are well? You are? Great! I know I am, it’s Friday after all! The last few days I have been outlining my scenes so that I am ready for Camp NaNoWriMo in July.

I’m reading an amazing book by CS Lakin called The 12 Key Pillars of Novel Construction which I have found invaluable. Lakin gives a scene checklist which I recommend you get your hands on.

I have used this to ask myself set questions per scene, and they are helping me so much I thought I would share them with you. Let me know what you think!

​What is the action or revelation that is the high impact crux of this scene?

What new information will this scene tell the reader?

What is the purpose of the scene?

What do I want the reader to know by reading this scene?

What is the protagonist reacting to here?

What added extra sparkle does the scene have?

Where does the scene begin?

What action is taking place when the scene starts?

How is it different to the opening of the scene before?

What is the POV?

How will I show this POV in the first few sentences?

How will I show the passing of time from the last scene?

What is my hook that grabs the reader at the start of the scene?

Imagine I’m in the scene, note down the first five things my senses notice.

List all the conflict that will take place in the scene.

How will the high moment stand out?

What juicy revelations that come further along in the book do I hint to?

How will I end in a way that excites the reader?

By the end what has been resolved or left hanging?

What do I want the reader to feel by the end of this scene?

What is the beginning middle and end of this scene?

Do you use a similar list of questions, or are you more of a pantser? As always I’d love your comments and any wisdom you have to share.

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6 thoughts on “How to Outline a Scene like a Pro

  1. Some really good questions on your list, though I have to ask, at what point you are asking them? Some of them I would definitely use (sensory information and what I want the readers to feel) on a first draft, but I think asking all of them at that stage would actually be premature. It feels like writing and editing simultaneously, which in essence is creation and destruction – which doesn’t work so well for me. From my perspective, a first draft doesn’t need to be polished (you don’t have to be right first time, only to write first time is a mantra I live by). However, once a draft is complete, I think an exhaustive list becomes invaluable to the editing process, and that is the point I would probably use such a list. Just my opinion, of course.

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  2. Honestly, I’m more of a pantser, although reading lists of questions like that always gives me a deep calming sense of…something. I’m usually organized in every other area of my life, but when it comes to writing, I just can’t. Organizing and cataloguing every thought I have while writing just makes me more unproductive, for some reason. I will try out those questions, though! I’m trying to edit a book right now and that checklist looks like it could be useful. 🙂

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  3. Hi Amy. I discovered CS Lakin’s website, Live Write Thrive a few years back and The 12 Key Pillars of Novel Construction helped me sooo much with my first book. Shoot Your Novel is really good too as it looks at writing your novel as if you are using a camera and filming a movie. Thanks for sharing this post!

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