How To Write a Novel — Weaving Threads Into Scenes

Day 21 of writing my novel in public

Photo by Joel Heard 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 21 — Weaving Threads Into Scenes

It has been a long journey over the last three weeks of preparing to write my novel. At the start, I did not know what I was going to write. Now I have a mission, a main character, an antagonist, ally character, secondary characters, the spine of the story and some funny bits. I have story threads that explore characters, relationships, settings, symbols and phrases and I have identified my theme.

I’m almost ready to write, but there is one last thing to do, which is to weave my story threads into scenes.

A big debate in writing fiction is whether to outline the complete story in advance (plotters/architects) or to write the first draft without a plan for the whole (pantsers/discoverers). I have tried both, and neither works for me in its pure form.

I think there is value in having a map for what you are going to write. If, like me, you have no sense of direction, then a map is essential for you to stand any chance of reaching your destination. One technique I’ve been using is to consult my guidebooks, the two books I love that will parent my bookchild. They make sure I stay reasonably close to the reader expectations.

But I don’t want to prescribe my journey to the degree that there is no room for the story to breathe. When I’m writing I need to know the general direction, the way to the next checkpoint, but not necessarily where to place every footfall. I think that the Book Architecture method by Stuart Horwitz is a happy medium.

Following this method, my next step is to weave the story threads that I’ve discovered into scenes. As always, I’ll start by looking at my guidebooks.

Guidebook Thread Weaving

I’m calling the process thread weaving, but if you are referring to Book Architecture, it calls the threads Series and thread weaving is creating a Series Grid.

I’m going to look at the two guidebooks I’ve been using are The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe by C. S. Lewis and Gangsta Granny by David Walliams.

The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe

Yesterday I listed the 10 story threads that I have identified. Each of those story threads has multiple iterations. When I look at how these story threads weave through the story, I can see that the key scenes occur where the greatest number of threads interact. Putting the threads into a grid allows you to find these. I’ve put a sample of some of the key scenes below. I’ve listed the story threads across the top, and placed the page number and iterations in the grid.

The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe Key Scenes Sample by the author

If you would like the full grid that I’ve constructed for The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe, including more story threads and all the scenes, Subscribe below and I’ll send it when it’s available.

Gangsta Granny

Doing the same process for the 8 threads I identified for Gangsta Granny, I get the following key scenes where multiple threads interact.

Gangsta Granny Key Scenes Sample by the author

Again, if you want to download the full thread weaving and scenes that I’ve done, Subscribe below and I’ll send it when it’s available.


Weaving together the story threads into a scene grid for my two guidebooks took all the time I had available today. Once you see the full scene grids for the stories, you can really appreciate how the threads work to create a consistent narrative, ask and answer questions and interact in the key scenes.

Tomorrow I will look at weaving together the story threads for my book into a 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.

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