By: Janice Hardy, @Janice_Hardy
Whether you're an outliner, a pantser, or somewhere in between, you want your story to pull readers in and keep them hooked from scene to scene, all the way to the end of the novel. The more eager they are to find out what happens next, the faster they'll turn the pages and the more likely they are to think, "wow, what a great book. I'm telling all my friends."
Unfortunately, novels don't always cooperate, and a first draft (or first outline) can become a tangled nest of scenes with no coherent narrative drive. This situation happens, then this happens, then this happens...oh, and then this happens...but it never feels as if it's going anywhere. It's not so much a story but a string of moments where "the protagonist does X" or worse, "then this happens to the protagonist."
Here's a little trick that can help keep your story on target. Better still, it works with the outlining, drafting, and revising stage, so you can use it as much or as little as needed. I like to write these down in my scene-by-scene outline file, but you could also do them as a book map or editorial map, highlight them in the text, or just mentally check them off if you prefer.
Step One: Identify the goal of every scene
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