Tuesday, May 18, 2010


Today I am working my way through making scene cards for my revision process, and I am reminded of the importance of checking your “echoes” throughout the book.

“Echoes” are what I have always called the ripple-like events that precipitate through your novel. Say Scene 1 is of your hero looking for her lost puppy. The puppy is just the excuse you want to use so she can meet her love interest, but don’t forget about the lost puppy, either. That puppy will have some small echoes throughout the book. Most of the time it will finish up within the same scene—at the end, they find Mr. Wiggles and have a cup of coffee together—but sometimes not.

When you look at your novel in outline form, whether it’s before you write it or afterwards, check the events and make sure they have the proper ramifications throughout the book. This also might give you ideas for missing scenes or motivations.

I like to outline my novel with note cards, and then check to make sure I have everything properly worked out and set up. If by the end of the book, my hero needs to diffuse a bomb, I need to put more than one scene where her techie boyfriend shows her how to diffuse a pipe bomb on a lark. The climax of the book will have many echoes throughout your book, both great and small.

Some of echoes are wrapped up within the scene, small bits of details that make your book feel more real and breath, and other echoes will be much larger, and spanning multiple scenes. It’s confusing to keep all of these details straight in your head, so I would recommend either writing out your outline on a piece of paper, or putting the scenes down on notecards.

Go through the events. Ask yourself, Have I properly set the climax up? Are there any skills or abilities I need to mention earlier? Have I forgotten to mention any minor bits of plot, and how they were resolved?

What about you? What methods do you use to ensure you’ve set everything in your novel up properly?


  1. I tried scene cards once. I sung their praises at the beginning, but eventually there were so many that they lost all use and became incredibly burdensome. I can still see the theoretical use, but it's just not for me.

    I keep a "next page" list. The page I'm writing isn't the last page. The last page(s) is just a list of notes "Don't forget this" or "X has to happen" or "Ooo, that turned out more awesome than I thought, go back and make it look like I planned that the entire time"

    Then I give it to an incredibly insightful beta reader and she points out all kinds of things I totally did on accident that I now claim I did on purpose. :)

  2. Echo is a great word to describe what I'm trying to do know: which is to tie up all the themes, which go along with the ripple affects.

  3. @ Joe: I was the opposite with notecards. At first, I was all, "No, I don't need them. I could never use notecards." Now I don't know how I ever lived without them.

    :D Don't you just love it when the beta readers are impressed by your accidents?

    @Aubrie: Yes! That's exactly what I am trying to do. Themes, and plot stuff, and all of that crap. It's been time consuming but the results are amazing. Good luck!