Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Scene Index Example: Ready-made Family and Giveaway

This post is in reference to my Preparing for a Writing Spree Plotstorming (my character-driven plotting), my Character Chart Template and Ready-Made Family Character Chart Example posts on 12/16, 1/20 and 2/17.

Last month I promised to share a Scene Index Example for my upcoming April, 2009 release, Ready-Made Family from Steeple Hill Love Inspired. You can preorder it now on most online booksellers. (See Purchase Links below.) Might be a good reference to have if you find these articles helpful.

Moving on…

Why I do a scene index:

--To be sure I have three reasons for a scene.

--Also, having a scene index helps me stay on track when I’m rough drafting the book which I have sold to the publisher on proposal. Since they offered contract on the book from the synopsis, I need to deliver the book as the editors envisioned it from my synopsis.

--Scene indexing enables me to write a rough draft in an extremely short amount of time. Usually under a week. Note: this method will not work for everyone and most people do not write that fast. So don't think you're some kind of freak of nature if it takes you months or years to complete a rough draft. That's actually more normal.

--Scene indexing assures me that I have my W’s (who, what, where, when and why) clear for the reader.

--Scene indexing makes synopsis writing easier if I do the scene index prior to the novel writing.

--Scene indexing works for me because I tend to see the story unfolding in scenes and therefore I tend to write in scenes. Being a panster, sometimes I do not complete a scene index before the book. But I always have around 5-7 scenes solidly in mind that I try to write down. I don't necessarily number the scenes until I know for sure where they'll fall. I normally always know my opening scene.


The numbers are the scene or chapter. For instance:

1=C1S1 would mean Book scene #1, Chapter #1, Scene #1 in Chapter 1.

I color code scene blue or black for the hero and red or pink for scenes in heroine's POV. This enables me to make sure I don't stay in one character's POV too long or too little time.

Since I'm not certain the color coding will come through, I will put in parentheses whose POV the scene is targeted to be written in.

You will see a varying amount of information written for each scene.

1=C1S1- (BENS POV)-PARKING LOT SCENE: Little girl approaches Ben in parking lot saying her mommy (unconscious) needs help. Intro lead male. Establish setting. Launch external conflict.
2=C1S2-(AMELIA’S POV)-HOSPITAL SCENE: Amelia wakes in hospital to find a male stranger holding her sleeping daughter. [Intros heroine. Endears her to readers. Establishes attraction. Reveals heroine’s internal conflict.]
3=C1S3- DOCTOR’S OFFICE SCENE (DELETED) [external conflict. Internal conflict. Sympathizes Amelia to reader. Ramps tension]
4=C2S1- DRIVE TO ST LOUIS SCENE [more deeply characterizes Ben]

5=C2S2 NISSA HOUSE SCENE [external conflict]
6=C3S1 HUNT FOR JOB SCENE [external conflict]

10=C4S1 PARK SCENE (shows growing romance)
And onward all the way to the last scene in the book.

You'll see in the first couple of scenes that I have listed briefly in same format the reasons for the scene or what I've accomplished in the scene. (Intro character. Establish setting. Reveal story goals. Reveal motivation. Establish attraction. First meeting hero/heroine. First Kiss. Etc)

I try to summarize in one line or sentence what happens in the scene. My indexes are a schedule of events. I turn it into a synopsis eventually. I average 60 scenes with an average of 20 chapters per book and 3 scenes per chapter. I always have at least 3 reasons for a scene.

Plotters, you can do a scene index before you write. Pansters, you can complete one after you write the novel if you wish. Some publishers require a chapter by chapter summary, so the scene index would be handy to have in that event.

This concludes the Plotstorming (my plotting for pansters) Tutorials having to do with Ready-Made Family.

Since I've tortured anti-chart people for 4 posts, I'm giving away 4 copies of this book. Leave a note with a valid e-mail address in the comment section by Midnight CST March 20th to be entered for a chance to win. You may want to put brackets around the [@] sign in your address so Net spider bots don't phish your address.

If you don't happen to win, Ready-Made Family releases in stores (Wal-mart, Target, Barnes and Noble and anywhere books are sold) April 1, 2009...that's less than two weeks!

It can be pre-ordered at most online booksellers as well. Below are some purchase links for your convenience.

Barnes and Noble

Cheryl Wyatt


Ruth Logan Herne said...

Top o' the mornin' to ye, lass! I can't believe that y've gotten your sweet brain wrapped aroun' such weighty subjects on such a fine day of tribute to my old friend St. Patrick, a man of some renown, ye ken!

B'gosh and b'gore, I'm plumb daft when it comes to such. Or just daft.


But it's great respect I have for ye, Cheryl-lass, for such brains and beaty to be packed into one fine bit o' womanhood. Why it makes our forebears proud, it does!!!

And I've got Irish Creme trifle to celebrate the solemn holy day that IS St. Patrick's day. And shamrock-shaped cookies with bright and brillig shades of green sprinkles!

And do no' be bringin' green bagels or some such to Seekerville this day, people! True Irish need no such! We eat fine food, simple and fillin', or a mite dressed up, but no phony dyes to be had.

Tippin' me hat to one and all from the Logan Herne homestead in WNY...


Cathy Shouse said...


What a great idea for keeping on track with what needs to be accomplished in each scene.

I'm not sure what you meant, whether there are 60 scenes per book? Do you have an estimated word- length per scene that you are shooting for?

And this might be a dumb question but do you just weave in some narrative between the scenes or is that information part of the scene?

Thanks for sharing your secrets to a quick draft. Would you please make mention of how you edit it? That seems to be an even slower process for me. Do you print it out, read it, write changes and then go back and type in the changes? It seems very tedious, especially if working on one long doc.


Cathy Shouse said...

My e-mail address for the drawing is
cathy underscore shouse at yahoo.

Tina M. Russo said...

You're killing me Wyatt. But this is obviously how a best selling, RT 4 1/2 star book is born :)

Sheri said...

What a great idea. This looks wonderful. Thank you for sharing.

My email address:

Rose said...


Thanks for this post. It's such useful information. I'm going to go through my WIP and make a scene chart! I think it will really help in writing a synopsis.


Sandra Leesmith said...

Hi Cheryl, You're a born teacher girlfriend. Love your info and organization. Thanks for sharing such helpful stuff.

Hey Ruthy, lassie, thanks for the green sprinkles on the cookies. Happy St. Pat's day to you darlin'

Janet Dean said...

Interesting post, Cheryl! Thanks for showing us your scene index. What do you typically use for your three reasons to have a scene?

I try to establish a goal for my pov character that s/he either gets or fails to get, but either way things get worse. That goal usually adds to the conflict, characterization and forwards the plot. But sometimes I struggle to find that goal. Do you use this technique? If so, any suggestions for finding a new goal in each scene?


Cheryl Wyatt said...

Ruthy, ye be a writin-genius in me humble opinion too lass. If ya don't be needin the scene index then I'm sure ye have a more magnificant plan for how ye go about writin ye marvelous stories.

Ye not be daft, for sure.

Now I have added some green tea and some lime-colored punch over in the glass bowl there. Be helpin yerself lasses.

Cheryl-who's already been pinched today.

Cheryl Wyatt said...

Cathy, I write category romance. Yes, 60 scenes per book is what I average. I don't shoot for that, it's just an average of what the stories usually pan out at.

I don't shoot for a particular scene length and I never keep track of word count until after the rough draft is down. I just let the story be what it is.

If a scene seems too long, I do go back and trim it in the editing stage once everything is finished. But when I do that, it's usually because I feel the scene is bogging the pacing, rather than having to many words or pages to it. I never do a word count on my scenes. Hope this makes sense.

I normally end up with an average of 20 chapters, 3 scenes per chapter. So it ends up being around 60 total scenes that I have in my books. The word count on those are 50-55k. My scenes are probably anywhere between 3-7 ms pages I'd say.

Not sure what you mean by narrative. If you mean character's introspection and subtext and setting description or anything that's not dialogue, yes it is part of the scene. Never in between. I normally have one hooky transition sentence hooking out a scene and then in the next scene (which is usually in the opposing character's POV) I have a hooky transition sentence that meshes with the outgoing scene sentence. This makes scene transitions smoother and keeps the readers reading as well as lets them know which character's head we are in now.

Hope this helps. Let me know if you have further questions.

Thanks for coming by and reading the post.


Cheryl Wyatt said...

Cahty...got you down for the drawing.


Cheryl Wyatt said...

Tina, sometimes I don't do a scene index until after the rough draft is down. LOL! So the scene index is more to help me write my synopsis than anything. I am terribly synopsis challenged. I hate, hate, hate writing them. I'd rather have teeth pulled without anesthesia.

Everyone, one thing I wanted to say too is these scene indexes are more to keep me sane while putting down the synopsis. Scene indexes do help me not to have a sagging middle though. And sometimes I don't start a scene index until I get stuck somewhere in the book.

I rarely fill a scene index out past 10 known scenes before I start writing. Never have I indexed the entire book with scenes prior to writing it. Though I might try it someday. It just seems like SO much work. LOL.

And the last thing you want to do is take time away from charting and indexing when you could be actually writing the story. So I try to be cautious not to overplan.

Sometimes you just gotta roll your sleeves up and JUST WRITE. LOL.


Cheryl Wyatt said...

Sheri, got your name down. Thank you for coming by!


Cheryl Wyatt said...

Rose, got you down for the drawing.

Let me know how it goes with the charting! :-)

Like you, I use this scene index to help with my synopsis.

Thank you for coming by Seekerville.

Be sure to grab some of Ruthy's Irish Creme trifle and sham-shaped cookies!


Cheryl Wyatt said...

Sandra, thank you. Actually, I am a terrible teacher. It took me longer to write this scene index article than it did to write my last book. Not kidding. LOL!

But thank you anyway. I never feel thorough when teaching and I always forget to mention important stuff.

But I figured if what I say can help one person out of a thousand, then yay. LOL.

Aren't Ruthy's sprinkles yummy?


Cheryl Wyatt said...

Janet, for the 3 reasons, I try to have stuff that HAS to happen in the book for the reader to be able to be engaged.

Just a few reasons are listed after my first couple of scene summary sentence.

It includes stuff like:

Hook reader
Establish setting
Intro main characters
Ramp tension
Intro conflict
Deepen POV
Endear character
Deepen characterization
Establish attraction (in a romance)
Deepen the relationship
Add conflict
Reveal motivation/past
Reveal character's story goals
Etc, Etc. Etc.

Ramp conflict could and probably should be one reason for every scene. So automatically each scene would have one reason if there's tension in every scene. Anything to keep the reader reading.

In suspense you'd have more reasons for a scene...such as throw reader off or intro red herrings, or provide clues, etc.

I have never used scene goals to be honest. I only have story goals for each character. Meaning someting they both want to accomplish by story's end. Those goals can change. But it has to be something measurable and attainable by the story time frame, which in my books is normally 4-6 months.

I've heard of lots of authors using scene goals though, and those goals are definitely good reasons for a scene being there I'd say as long as the goal moves the story forward. I think my three reasons for each scene could be sort of the same thing as a story goal for me the author.

But as far as having the character accomplish something goal-related per scene, I don't track or plan that. But it works for many people, including you. I can totally see how that helps endear people to your characters...who are some of the MOST memorable characters I've read in books.


nm8r67 said...

thanks for all the info on scene indexing. i will have to try that because i positively DREAD working on a synopsis. i am such a beginner in the writing process - i keep saving your lessons.

thanks for your generousity.


nm8r67 at hotmail dot com

Cheryl Wyatt said...

Janet, to answer your question, finding a new goal for each scene...I have a hard time even coming up with one story goal. LOL! Finding a goal for each scene would be so hard for me. But I'd say if each mini-scene goal could be tied into the main goal or something, like steps they need to take to reach the main goal...maybe it could work.

I have the hardest time thinking of external conflict and character's story goals.

Because even in a romance, their goals have to be more than wanting the hero or the hero wanting the heroine and capturing her/his heart being their goal.

In Ready-Made Family, Ben's story goal is to help the heroine get back on her feet before summer's end when school starts. But his goal then morphs into helping to restore her faith in Christians and in the church and also showing her Christ's love so she knows He is not holding her past against her.

The heroine's story goal is to find a job and a place to live by summer's end so her daugher can start school and not have to move mid-school year.

These story goals are measurable (meaning she either gets a job or doesn't) and attainable within a certain time frame...by summer's end. And the fact that school is starting in three months adds tension to the story and her goal.
Hope this helps. I've heard of many, many authors who have scene goals for their characters, but I don't. Trying to come up with so many would make my brain hurt about as much as my scene index makes a lot of people's brains hurt. LOLOL!

Though I like trying new methods and my ways are always changing. So I just might try that method sometime. I'll let you know how it works out.

Does anyone else have any advice as to how to create scene goals for characters? I'd be interested in knowing too.


Cheryl Wyatt said...

DebH--I hope you find something of value to use in your own writing. But, if my methods don't work for you, don't think you're a failure or anything.

There are MANY writers, GREAT writers (Ruthy and Tina are two examples) who don't chart or index and their stories and characters are still outstanding.

I am glad you came by and God's best to you in your writing. The best way I learned how to write was just to write. And write. And write. And write. And by reading A LOT. Sometimes it helps to get contest and critique/mentor feedback on your stuff too. Even to hear that you're on the right track, or to discover places to concentrate on craft-wise.

Each month on my blog I run a critique contest. If you are interested, the blog is www.scrollsquirrel.blogspot.com

You'll find it on the Tuesday Scene Starters/Story Prompts. Anyone who leaves a comment letting me know what they think of the prompts is entered into a contest. The winner each month receives a private in-depth scene critique from me. You can enter if you're interested if you haven't already. Normally a person makes the same mistakes over and over in their writing and I can normally tell within one scene what the writer's strengths and weaknesses are as far as where they are in their craft.

Forgive me if you've already been to my blog. Your name sounds very familiar so you may visit it already. But in case you weren't aware of the critique contest, I thought I'd mention it. There's no time limit for sending me the scene either. It can even be a year from the time a person wins.

I'm glad you're hanging around Seekerville. There are some wonderful articles on craft here ongoing and in the archives. You will learn SO much from these ladies.

In fact...Ruthy's taught me a thing or two in contest critiques...haven't ya Ruthy? :-)



Janet Dean said...

Cheryl, thanks for the great discussion. And for your wonderful though over zealous comment about my characters. :-)

You're right and I should've said--the scene goal I try to come up with is a mini-version of the main story goal.

In my wip, my mail order bride heroine marries to give her brother a home. She sees everything she does as a step toward reaching that goal. Though I have to make her fail for a while. Never make it too easy on your characters. But when that goal is realized and her brother arrives, he's unhappy and doesn't fit in, adding conflict to the story. Now her new goal is to help him adjust. The steps she takes add conflict between her and the hero. Finding that goal for each scene is tough for me as is showing how the pov character succeeded or failed, but this method helps keep me from writing episodic scenes.


mareva said...

Thank you for your comments...As a newbie I "know" that I should do what you say, and I had come to the conclusion last week that the WIP wasn't going anywhere unless I start a "disciplined' approach..I opened the excel sheet and got a little dizzy, but..I'm inspired today to do better, and it isn't the whiskey or Irish Creme, just a little common sense. Please enter me in your contest. Marevawrites(@)gmail.com

warm hugs,

lynnrush said...

Wow. What a great post. At first my panster mentality freaked when I saw the formula-looking-equations...

But then I sucked in a deep breath and read on.

Nice work, Cheryl. What a great thing you have goin' there.

I usually do my chapter by chapter after the novel is written. It's so helpful.

Great post. And thanks for the book giveaway.

Have a great day.
sheriboeyink [at] cox [dot] net.

Patricia W. said...

Cheryl, thanks for another great lesson. They always seem to come exactly when I need them.

In my current wip, I've penned about 5 chapters. I've got my main characters down, although they continue to reveal themselves to me, and know where the book is going to end. It's the getting there.

So I thought outlining my scenes/chapters might be a good idea. Except, as you pointed out in your comments, the thought of doing that for the entire book pretty much took the wind out of my sails. However, I can see my way to alternating outlining with writing in 10-15 scene intervals. Thanks for the tip! You know we newbies sometimes need to hear our ideas are too far fetched...

Gina Welborn said...

Right now I'm working with a plot board. It's okay, but I have a sneaking suspecion it's not someting I'm going to use for every book.

After reading Cheryl's post, I'm going to try a different plotting technique with the next book. Put the info on the board on pages in a 3-ring binder. That way I have room to add key info.

Yeah, I know I could put the info all in an spreadsheet, but I really don't like messing with computer files. I'd rather have a hardcopy in my hand.

I really like this scene index example.

Now off to sample Ruthy's shamrock cookies. After all, I'm vegetarian and I need my daily intake of green things.

Diana said...

Thanks! This is great information!

Mary Connealy said...

Cheryl, I always feel like such a slacker after you post.

I think I'm going to find some corned beef and cabbage, sit on the Blarney Stone under a rainbow, sniff a handful of shamrocks and do some deep thinking about all you've said.

Erin go Bragh---which means Ireland Forever....even if you're from the midwest like me. :)

Cheryl Wyatt said...


I loved your advice because I'm constantly having to check myself against writing episodic. So thank you for going into depth.

And..for sure your characters are memorable. I still can't stop thinking about the one who took the apple from the cart I think it was. I'm seriously not exaggerating when I say that your characters are ones I remember for years. I've read your contest entries before..and even those characters stuck in my mind long whiles later.

THAT is good writing. I hope to be able to do the same someday.


Cheryl Wyatt said...

LOL about the whiskey Mareva. It might not hurt...LOLOL!

I wish you God's best in your writing. We're all still learning. That you are willing to be open to growing and learning is a huge plus.

I sometimes have to try several methods before finding one I stick with.

I'm more of an instinct writer than anything. But one thing I've learned is that writing is SO much more work than I ever dreamed when I started out. LOL!


Nannette said...

This was really helpful. I have a bunch of post its with scene ideas and now have an idea of how to put them in order. ;-)

Please enter me in drawing:

Cheryl Wyatt said...

Okay..here's another plug for the scene index.

My editors just e-mailed me to ask that I tweak my scene in my Art Fact Sheet info to reflect one people scene, one landscape scene and one stilllife scene rather than three people scenes.

So after being on me 7th book (five of which are releasing in a 14 month span!) I had to go back to the scene index to get cover scene ideas for landscape and stilllife.

Having that scene index for Vince's story (A Soldier's Devotion which will release in Jan 2010) prevented me from having to go back into my ms file and searching for stuff to use.

I have a hard time keeping track of stuff unless I write it down.

If you are a person who remembers details easily without having to write them down, you may not need to do an index. But it sure came in handy for me today.


Cathy Bryant said...

Thanks for a very helpful post, Cheryl! (The comments, too!) I'd love to be in the drawing for your new LI book.


Cheryl Wyatt said...

Lynn, I know the feeling. LOL! Thanks for coming by.

The deadline book I'm writing right now just has sentences for the scene index that look like this:

Vince runs into heroine at pool. Pizza party afterward.

Chance invites heroine to lunch with him and Vince. Lunch scene and sequel (the emotional reaction).

Heroine invites Vince to neighborhood youth bash. Youth bash scene.

Sequel:(which is still a scene) Vince realizes heroine can't cook. Offers to help her learn in exchange for her giving him Bible study lessons. He's completely unchurched/Biblically illiterate.

And on and on...I will sometimes write the scene then chart the next few. But it's more of a pansting type with just a vague idea of where the scene will take place and what happens in it.

They're not coded by chapter or numbered by scene yet. That'll come later.

I've got you down for the contest.

Mareva, forgot to mention that I have you entered too.


Cheryl Wyatt said...


Very interestingly, I'm currently on chapter five as well! LOL! And as you are, I am alternating writing 2-3 scenes then charting the next couple or three.

I sort of got stuck around chapter four so I had to chart the next few scenes to keep myself moving. Especially since the book is due the first of May. LOL!

So I'm totally trying to fly by the seat of my pants and write off of the synopsis, but since I don't put every single scene in the synopsis, I'm having to stop every few scenes and plan what's next.

I'll let you know how it goes. You keep at it, okay? And let me know how yours goes too. Sounds like we're writing both our current books similarly.

Got you entered for the drawing.

And actually, everyone (sans Seekers) who comments is being entered in the book drawing unless you say you don't want to.

Just thought I'd throw that out there in case I forget to mention somone being entered. I always go back through the comments a few times to be sure no one got missed.

Cheryl Wyatt said...

Gina, LOL about the green things.

I tried plotting board for awhile but then people in my house kept moving the stickies...ugh!

I do like having hard copy of stuff sometimes. But since I tend to lose stuff, I also like having it in a computer file that I can open.

Diana, got you down.

Thanks for coming by!


Cheryl Wyatt said...

Mary, TRUST ME. You do NOT need my help. LOL! I'm a novice compared to you. I wouldn't think about it too hard or at all if I were you. LOL.

This is a perfect example of how different methods work for different authors.

Save some cabbage for me! I love it cooked.


maripaul60 said...

I have been waiting for this part of the discussion. Thank you so much for sharing this with us. It helps me get a visual on things. I tend to work better that way. You examples are a great tool in that as well. I have everything ready for my storyboard. My ms is written, now I am going to go through it with your advice and pick it apart to make sure I have what I need in my scenes.This is going to help immensely. Thank you for taking the time to share your technique with us. We are very lucky to have you here. I know I will be referring to my notes on this over and over to keep me on the right path.


Thanks again Cheryl!

Cheryl Wyatt said...

Nannette, thank you for coming by and sharing your thoughts. God's best to you in your work! Got you entered.

Cathy, likewise to you. Thank you for the kind comments. I've got you entered.

Okay...going to the Seekerville kitchen to bring out some more of Ruthy's stellar cookies...

Be right back...


Cheryl Wyatt said...


Thank you for the kind words. I hope it works for you. But if not, don't fret.

And I hope you'll come by Seekerville often. My fellow Seekervillains are full of helpful craft and industry info.

Sometimes I actually write out the scene and chapter too. I don't always use the code as put in the post.

For instance, sometimes I just write:

Chapter One:

Scene 1:
Heroine crashes car into hero's motercycle as he's on his way to a rescue mission.

Scene 2: Heroine goes to check on hero. Hero finds out why she was driving under the influence of distraction. Confrontation.

Scene 3: yada-yada-yada

That's (above) for the book I'm currently writing BTW. Not from Ready-Made Family.

So you may even tweak how you write down the scenes. Sometimes I don't even use complete sentences. Just phrasing or fragments are fine. Just whatever you need to jog your memory and let you know what happens next. Or what the scene was about if you're charting in retrospect or reviewing the index after the fact like I had to today for my Art Fact Sheet for my publisher.

Easier than going back through the ms.

And of course none of this would be necessary if I had the kind of memory that allowed me to just remember details from the stories without having to go back and look. LOL!

Thanks all for stopping by.

Who all got pinched so far today?

Are you all wearing green?

Coming at you with a lobster and a crawdad if not....



Cheryl Wyatt said...

And actually, I wanted to brag on Steeple Hill LI and LIS author Margaret Daley here.

When I was still unpubbed and she was giving me advice, one of the things she taught me was that there needs to be at least three good reasons for a scene being there. Otherwise it's just there and blah and serves no real purpose.

She says if she doens't have three reasons for a scene being there, she either beefs it up so there are three valid reasons or she cuts the scene out completely. Brutal! LOL!

But it's either we do it, or the editors do it. Scenes without purpose tend to drag the story down and make the reader yawn.

You want readers to walk into poles when reading your books...not fall asleep and drool all over the page. LOL.

Lord, help us all to write books that make people walk into poles.

A member of ACFW (I forget who now) mentioned that one time. That her goal was just to write such a great story that people forgot everything around them when reading. Meaning the ceiling could fall in and they wouldn't disengage from the book. LOL!

Oh to be that great a writer...

Best of green lucky charms to everyone in their writing projects today.

He he!


Ruth Logan Herne said...

Enough of the pinching, Wyatt!!!

That's so funny. We had a radio discussion of that on a local station. The pinching thing.

Never had that happen up here in WNY. I think it's a regional thing. I'm okay with that. If someone's gonna' pinch me, they best be prepared to scrap.

I brought more cookies, and they're fresh from the frosting station! Of course we use my home-made almond/vanilla buttercream frosting, melt-in-your-mouth goodness right there!

And Cheryl, thanks for the kudos. Always appreciated. I love that while our styles and methodology differ, the means accomplish the end. A good, tight book with heart and soul.

Gotta have soul.

I brought some sweet tea for our afternoon session. Perfect for those of us enjoying welcome spring sunshine. And a fresh coffee set up. Dunkin Donuts medium blend today. Good stuff. Just robust enough to chase the afternoon sleepies a-bye.

And I'm listening to a beautiful Celtic station out of Boston (on the computer, it reminds me of number four son who is finishing his Master's at Northeastern... a 6'2", 190 lb. leprechaun... the map of Ireland dances across his face and his dear, sweet ma misses him on this day of days!!!)which just makes me smile and puddle up all at once!

I'm such a girl!

I love a book that does that too.

"Laughter through tears is my favorite emotion." Dolly Parton, Steel Magnolias (Truvy, the hairdresser)

Must frost more cookies. My leastuns are hopin' for a leprechaun sighting today. While the wee folk move with great speed and agility, their movements on this sainted day are sometimes compromised by their choice of beverage...

So while still not easily caught, we often spy them beneath the old catalpa tree. Smart-moving children have the best chance of nabbing a real, live leprechaun mid-afternoon, but a smart leprechaun always plants a bag of treats, candy and such, to throw the least-uns off their trail ye know. Diversionary tactics learned during the aftermath of the potato blight when food lay scarce and wee folk were more easily spotted.



Erica Vetsch said...

I love this method! I use something similar along with the Portable Plot Board posted about on Seekerville last fall. Plot Board first, then Scene index. I'm not as fast as you, Cheryl, as a first draft takes 3-5 weeks. :)

Jo said...

The book looks good. Would love to get entered for drawing.


Pam Hillman said...

Thanks Cheryl. Maybe I was speed reading, but what format do you use for your Scene Indexes: notecards, Word, Excel?

Also, to whoever asked about length of scenes, mine range from 800-2000 words, so I probably average 1000 words per scene. So, if your target line is 60K, then 60 scenes is good. I like plan for 75-80 scenes for the longer historicals.

Pam Hillman said...

Patricia, outlining/scene indexing/plotting (gasp) is easier to swallow if you do it in little spurts:

In the wip I'm working on now, I threw a bunch of stuff out there and sorta nailed down 4 or 5 major plot points and the beginning and the ending.

Then I worked out a few scene ideas (bridges between major plot points) for the first few chapters.

Next I started writing...

and then I waffled back and forth between the writing and the plotting, adding new ideas as the characters revealed themselves.

My goal is to keep the plotting one step ahead of the writing.

Walt Mussell said...

I'm not an anti-chart person (I use an Excel spreadsheet), but I;m doing several analyses and wondering if I'm not analyzing things to death.

Walt Mussell said...


Cheryl Wyatt said...

Erica, that's pretty darn fast!

When does your book release? Be sure to let us know!

Glad you stopped by. Got you entered.


Cheryl Wyatt said...


got you entered.

Thanks for stopping by.


Cara Putman said...

Great post, Cheryl. I'll have to check the others out as I get set to work on new proposals next month. But now back to writing.

Patty Wysong said...

This made great sense to me, Cheryl. In the ms. I finished this winter I did my scene index every evening, in excel with a word tally stuck in there. It was encouraging to see the ground I'd covered that day and to see the word count slooooowly climb toward my goal--not to mention saving my sanity on many occasions. I'll be adding a column for reasons for the scene now, to help me analyze things (major weak point for me.)

patterly at gmail dot com
I checked WallyWorld last week because I couldn't remember when your book was due out. LoL And congrats on your 4.5 stars, Cheryl!! Wohoo!!

Cheryl Wyatt said...


I just type it in on a separate Word doc that I keep my other story notes and cut scenes on.

But you could write it down on notecards or in a notebook or whatever works.

And I think my scenes average about 1500 words. Usually 250 words per page and around 3-7 pages per scene. If the scenes are longer, usually there are only 2 scenes in a chapter.

That is such great advice to keep the plotting one step ahead of the writing.

Thanks for sharing your advice and methods. I love learning from other authors and hearing about how their stories play out.

I can't wait to hold your pubbed books in my hands, Pamster!!!

Praying it's one day SOON! :-)


Cheryl Wyatt said...

Walt, I do think it's possible to overthink/over analyze things.

I admire anyone who can use excel. It boggles my mind. I wish I'd paid more attention in computer class. LOL!

Pam H is a whiz on excel.

Thanks for stopping by Seekerville and sharing your thoughts. Got you down for the drawing by the way.


Cheryl Wyatt said...

Hey Cara!

Glad to know you have more books coming out. Like Mary, you sure don't need my advice. LOL! Your books are great.

Thanks for coming by!


Cheryl Wyatt said...


That is such a great idea to chart the scene index on excel. If I knew how to master excel better, I think I'd like it that way simply for the more organized view it would provide.

Thanks for coming by. Got you down for the drawing.


Missy Tippens said...


You are NOT allowed to ever again say you're not a good teacher. Do you hear me? I'll have to come after you if you do!! You are an excellent teacher, and very generous sharing. So there!

Great post. Thanks so much for sharing. I got scene index cards made up a few years ago and have gotten away from using them. I'll be sure to dig them out and give them a try. Since I have a problem being episodic, I really need to try your method.

Thanks for sharing!

Audra Harders said...

Cheryl, your concept of scene indexing is brilliant for this wandering mind. Sometimes I get so involved with what I'm writing, I drift off on tangents that no normal mind can follow, LOL!

Don't worry, that writing is my draft at it's roughest, but hey, I'll give the indexing a whirl and pray I stay on the right path and maybe cut out some of the red ink.

Thanks for sharing!

Happy St Patricks Day, all!

Debby Giusti said...

Cheryl, congrats on your 4 1/2 stars from RT for this book. The story looks great. I'm heading to WalMart for a copy! So happy for your success! :)

robynl said...

No, I haven't been pinched today; not yet. Happy St. Patrick's day.

But I did bake chocolate sour cream cookies at work and iced with green icing and decorated with coconut for the residents to have with coffee today. Hope they enjoyed them.

The book sounds great. Congrats.

robynl said...

I listened real good, didn't I (not).


Cheryl Wyatt said...

LOLOL! Missy...okay. I won't say it again. I guess I should say that teaching is a struggle for me. I LOVE helping and mentoring people but I am such an instinct writer that it's hard for me to even figure out how I do things. LOLOL!

Thank you for the compliment. It means a lot.

Hey...I'm very interested in those scene index cards. Are they actually index cards with scenes written on them? Or card made specifically for charting?

And do you put just one scene on each card? Or several so that each card represents a chapter or what?

I love using index cards so I'm very interested in hearing about this method.



Cheryl Wyatt said...

Hey Audra!

Boy do I ever know about tangeants. LOL!

Scene indexing did help me on that count.

Hope it helps you too. But if not, I know you'll find your groove.

That's one thing about the Seekers...even those who aren't pubbed yet are advanced in their craft to the point that I believe every Seeker is publishable/ready to work with an editor RIGHT NOW.

The fun of learning never stops. My editors at Steeple Hill have taught me SO much about how to execute a readership-streamlined story as well as how to tighten my writing and to stay focused on my plot.

After working with me on several books now they've come to see my strengths and weaknesses as a writer and have helped me to see those things as well.

A note for newer writers:
The indexing helps me to be sure that I don't write the story episodic because I have a problem with writing my synopses in such a way that concerns them that the story might be episodic. So I know to look for it.

So one word of caution when scene indexing, is just be sure you have a smooth transition between scenes and that rather than each scene just being there, that each scene served to move the overall story forward and adds to the overall story arc.

Hope this makes sense. I just don't want you newer writers to try this method and end up with a book of episodes or scenes. Focus on your overall story. The scenes are just details of how that will pan out.

Have good transitions and be sure each scene contributes to the overall story arc.


Cheryl Wyatt said...

Debby, THANK YOU for the congrats.

And thank you for buying the book! Every sale helps.

Looking forward to reading your newest!

Everyone, be sure to stop by Debby's post today and comment!



Cheryl Wyatt said...

Robynl...those cookies sound SO good!

Got you down for the drawing. Thanks for coming by.

Pop on over to Debby's post for today. She is an EXCELLENT teacher.

I always learn new stuff from her. She is full of industry wisdom.


Patricia said...

Thank you so much for your construction guidance. As a novice in the craft (and retired engineer) I truly appreciate the expertise you shared. Although some may think you have reduced the mystery of writing to more of a science, from my critique work I can see that most writers need help with structure--to truly get from the beginning to a satisfying ending.

You have blessed us by sharing!
Pat Grau

Missy Tippens said...

Cheryl, I believe I got the template for the cards in Carolyn Greene's notebook. I'll dig them out and let you know what all is on them.


Cheryl Wyatt said...


Thanks for coming by and sharing your thoughts. I've found the same thing about structure. I didn't realize how important solid story structure was until I started working with pub house editors.

Got you entered in the drawing! Hope you'll come by Seekerville often.


Cheryl Wyatt said...

Missy, thanks for that info. I'm going to have to pick up her stuff. Everytime you mention something of Carolyn's it piques my interest.


Janna said...

Congrats on your new book coming out! I loved the first two!


Cheryl Wyatt said...


How are you? Great to see you here. Thanks for your kind words. Your readership is a blessing.

Got you down for the drawing.

Cute baby!

See you in September in the bookstore. Wink. Wink.


Elizabeth said...

this book looks steller! hope I win!

Cheryl Wyatt said...

Thanks Elizabeth. Got you down.


Janet Kerr said...

Hello Cheryl,
Thank you so much for the mountain of information.
You are a great teacher!
I would love to win your book!


Cheryl Wyatt said...

Jan/Janet got you down! Thanks for dropping by. Come by often!


Valerie Comer said...

Not sure if I'm in under the wire on the contest or not. My email is valerierco at yahoo dot ca.