How To Write a Novel — Act 1 Thread Weaving

Day 22 of writing my novel in public

Photo by Kelly Sikkema on Unsplash

I’ve started something scary here on Medium. It’s something I’ve done before, but never in public. I have a process that I’m going to follow, and I’d like to share it with you.

If you want to follow the journey from the start, go here.

If you missed yesterday’s, you can find it here.

Day 22 — Act 1 Thread Weaving

Yesterday I looked at how the various story threads weave together for the two books I’m using as inspiration — The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe by C. S. Lewis and Gangsta Granny by David Walliams.

Today I’m going to focus on the same process for the book that I am writing, and in particular the first quarter of the book — Act 1. I am trying to weave together the beginning of the different story threads that I have identified into scenes. For that I need to know how many scenes, and how long those scenes will be.

In order to determine roughly how many scenes I will need, I’m going to first look at my two guidebooks.

Guidebook Word Count

According to Google, The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe has 38,421 words. I identified 49 scenes, so that is 38421/49 = 784 words per scene.

Gangsta Granny has 30,285 words. I counted 44 scenes, so that is 30285/44 = 688 words per scene.

Based on these guidelines, I am going to aim for 48 scenes of approximately 750 words, giving a total word count of 48*750 = 36,000 words.

I’m going to work with a structure of 4 roughly equally divided acts, so each act will be about 12 scenes or 9000 words.

Thread Weaving

As I look at weaving together the existing threads and creating scenes, I’m also developing new threads:

  • Boo and Kay (type: character) — What has Kay eaten now?
  • March and Miasmus (type: relationship) — Were they friends at school?
  • Sandy and Charlie (type: relationship) — Will Charlie listen to Sandy?
  • Dad Private Investigator (type: character) — Can he catch the thief?
  • Dad and Security Guard (type: relationship) — Who’s more qualified?
  • Birds and Bees (type: symbol) — What can nature teach us?
  • Dead Body (type: character) — Has someone been murdered?

My Act 1 Scenes

So I’ve spent some time weaving my threads into scenes, deciding how they should interact. Where more threads interact in the same scene, that scene will become more important — a key scene.

After working through the process for Act 1, I have 13 scenes. I’ll paste an image of the grid below, though the writing will be too small to read unless you zoom in.

Story Threads for the first Act of Charlie Quick
Charlie Quick Thread Weaving Act 1


Most of the work today is in producing the grid above. It is a fun process, thinking about how the story will unfold as the narrative elements repeat and vary. It also takes time, and this was only the first quarter. I expect the next two acts to be harder as I tackle the messy middle.

Tomorrow I will look at weaving together the story threads for the second quarter, Act 2, into my scene grid.

Please subscribe to get the full series as I write it.

If you want to try the process with me and write your own novel, I’d love to have you join me on this journey. Put in the comments on how you went with this step.

1 thought on “How To Write a Novel — Act 1 Thread Weaving”

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *