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I encourage you to step away from your computer for this one.

Every novel has pivotal scenes. These are the moments that the other scenes are building up to, the moments when things become clarified or thwarted, established or resolved for your character. If all is going according to plan, you just wrote one such scene yesterday!

Brainstorm your pivotal scenes. Keep in mind that, depending on the kind of novel you are writing, pivotal does not always mean dramatic. Your pivotal scenes might be big events or simply shifts in a character’s understanding.

(Note: If you are still working out what happens in your novel, use this exercise to brainstorm different paths you could take. You could create several pivotal-scene lists that all take your character on a different journey. Then, see where the energy is and commit to exploring that path today.)

Now that you have your list, look at your pivotal scenes along with your answers from Day 3, where you determined where your story begins, where it ends, and how much time it takes. Do your pivotal scenes work within this timeframe? If not, see what needs to change.

Finally—and this is the fun part!—map out your timeline. Maybe tape some sheets of paper together so that you can make a continuous line. Once you see where your story begins and ends and what the pivotal scenes are along the way, your plot will begin to emerge for you. Remember that these scenes can (and most likely will) change as your novel evolves, but it’s helpful to have a structure to guide you as you figure it all out.

Tip: If you are writing a quiet story, or the idea of plot scares you, you may want to listen to Episode 2 of my podcast, Keeping a Notebook! https://www.ninalacour.com/podcast/