Wednesday, April 3, 2019

Stepping Stone Scenes by Sara L. Foust

I was told in my early attempts at critique groups that my first manuscript lacked a clear goal. It wasn’t easy criticism to hear, but it was important and I am glad that brave person had the courage to point it out to me. I started studying goals, motivations, conflicts, and plots for novels and realized I had a lot to learn. Learning these techniques and thought processes has really helped me hone my craft. My favorite part is the motivation—the psychology of why my character acts the way they do, why they want what they want, and so forth. But we can’t have motivation without goal. They are inextricably linked.

Once I gave conscious thought to setting a story goal, I realized that this big-picture, overarching goal wasn’t the only one I was learning about in my stories. Yes, it is important to have a story goal for each and every character—something they want to achieve by The End. But, I feel it is just as important to make sure each of my scenes has a smaller goal that ties into the larger goal. These scene goals are my stepping stones. Each one unique, necessary, and individual but also leading to the overall story goal.

In my current manuscript, whenever I get to a point in the story where I feel like my writing lags or I have no direction, I realize, “Ah, I’ve failed to set a scene goal.” I go back to the prior scene, figure out what logically comes next for the protagonist (or antagonist, depending on where I’m at), and ask her what she wants and needs to achieve next in order to get closer to her end story goal. After I have that answer, I can resume the scene with direction. With purpose.

I sometimes visualize the scene goals as actual stepping stones or stopping points. They are guidelines to write to, like traveling a long distance, these scene goals are my roadmap. They are smaller pieces of the plot and, therefore, each scene goal inevitably leads me to the next. Once I got a feel for this technique, it seemed that my stories wandered aimlessly a whole lot less frequently. I have my heading, I suppose, and know which direction to travel.

How about you? Do you make a point of checking to be sure that each scene in your story has a clear goal that is unique but also integral to the story goal? If you haven’t ever tried looking at your story from this leap-frog, travel-stop angle, I might encourage you to try it. It has certainly helped me stay on target and, hopefully, it helps my readers stay engaged too.

Do you make a point of checking to be sure that each scene in your story has a clear goal that is unique but also integral to the story goal? via @sfoust25 #SeriouslyWrite


Sara is a multi-published, award-winning author who writes Inspirational Romantic Suspense
from the beauty of East Tennessee, where she lives with her five homeschooled children. To learn more about her, please visit

About Rarity Mountain:

On the surface, SIMON FINCUFF and FERN STRONGBOW have nothing in common. Simon has served his sentence, but his past conviction still haunts him. Fern is a veterinarian and grew up on an off-the-grid homestead. The one thing they share? Each has a dark secret they would do almost anything to protect. When their current careers are yanked away, they are left scrambling to pick up the pieces. A reality television show falls into their paths, offering a life-changing opportunity that tests their resolve and their faith. These two unlikely partners must battle to survive for thirty days in the untouched wilderness of Rarity Mountain with only a handful of survival items and a director who is out for drama, no matter the cost. With their lives and their carefully guarded skeletons on the line, they will discover how far they are willing to go to win the million-dollar prize for Survival Tennessee.


Barnes and Noble: