A System for Writing a Novel

The Incompetent Writer

Scene and structure
There is no magical trick for writing a good story, no perfect shortcut.

However, Jack Bickham’s craft textbook Scene and Structure attempts, to a greater extent than most technical manuals, to give aspiring novelists a comprehensive method. He presents a simple and easily understood system for designing and trouble-shooting novels. It’s well worth reading.

There are lots of books out there promising to tell you how to write better plots. In one sense, Scene and Structure is just another one of these books, much like McKee’s Story or Synder’s Save the Cat! However, as I’ve described in previous posts, Bickham’s method is unusual because it begins at the sentence level. Bickham grounds his account of how stories and novels are supposed to work, at their largest, macro scale, on how he believes sentences are supposed to work — he derives his storytelling method from his view of how individual…

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