The first step to writing a novel is to develop the theme, the main characters and the settings. Once these are in place, it is possible to work on the story scene by scene. With this method, the book is often written in random order and assembled into readable form later.
A Scene Often Equates to a Chapter
A scene is an overall picture of what is happening at any given point in a novel. It may include action, dialogue, emotion and reference to the surroundings.
If a book has to be a certain length, work out approximately many chapters it will need. Then write a short two or three sentence summary of the main scene in each chapter. Details will change during the writing process but these summaries are a good foundation to work from.
Write Scene Summaries on Cards
Cut out a number of 3×5 cards and allocate one to each scene. Using the summaries mentioned above, expand these to fill the card. Introduce more facts and feelings and then lay the cards out on a table. This is a visual outline of a novel and many writers find it helpful to shuffle the cards around and change the order of certain scenes. It is also possible to throw a card away and add another one in.
It can be useful to use different colored card and assign each color to a particular type of scene. For example, red cards could signify angry scenes, pink cards emotional or romantic scenes and blue cards sad or lonely scenes.
Writing the Scenes in Full
Once the cards are arranged in a way that makes sense and feels right, start writing the chapters. This can be done in any order. Many authors start with the scenes that are alive in their minds; the ones they can visualize and where they almost smell the smoke and feel the heat from the fire. Writing these scenes first often triggers fresh ideas and new inspiration for writing the scenes that are not as vivid or easy to imagine.
Check Scenes for Cohesion and Flow
When writing scene by scene, it is important to read them through to ensure they follow each other and no gaps have been left. It’s helpful to see the chapters as the carriages on a train; the links need to be strong and viable and lead into the next part of the story.
Scene by scene writing works well for many authors. There are advantages and disadvantages to using this method but with careful preparation and thorough checking, it can be effective and result in an excellent piece of writing.