Scene Breakdown

Hi Everyone

How do you write a book?

Today I’ll be talking you through the highly convoluted (and not necessarily recommended) writing process I went through to complete my debut novel ‘The Sentinel’.

I’ve blogged about the process before (here and here) and today I’ll go into more detail.

One of the tips I learnt from the Guardians’ ‘How to Write a book in 30 days’ series (link here), was to write scenes rather than to create a book in a single long narrative from start to finish.

Writing scenes allowed me the time and space to play with the order of events in the novel.

Here’s how it looks in practice:

  1. Complete a free from summary outline of the novel – what are the events that will happen and, roughly, what order?
  2. Work through your characters and setting
  3. Expand on the events and write a scene breakdown for every event throughout the novel
  4. The scene breakdown should include:- time and day (at which the scene occurs)/characters in the scene/point-of-view/other characters/location/time/facts necessary for the scene/notes/questions/draft)

Once I’d completed the scene breakdown (which ran to 50 pages or so), I transferred scene summaries onto cue cards (one scene per card) and stuck them all over one wall in my study under chapter headings. This allowed me to visualise the whole book and to move scenes around so the story arc worked better.

I then cut and paste the scenes in my word document to match what was on the wall in preparation for a whole re-write.

As I said – convoluted! But this topsy-turvy process was necessary because it allowed me time to work out which scenes worked best where. I think the book was better because of it.

What do you think? How do you approach building the blocks of text necessary to create your story?

I’d love to hear your process – please comment below.

Until next time,


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