12.20: Retrofitting Structure into a First Draft

Your Hosts: Brandon, Mary, Mary Anne, and Wesley

We’re speaking again, at least in part, to discovery writers. In this case, we’re talking about how to take a non-outlined work and apply a structure to it in revisions.

Credits: This episode was recorded by Andrew Twiss, and mastered by Alex Jackson.


Identify the promises you made in the first 10% of your story. Color-code them. Now color code your chapters and/or scenes, mapping them to the promises made early on.

City of Miracles, by Robert Jackson Bennett

8 thoughts on “12.20: Retrofitting Structure into a First Draft”

  1. mace quotient?? about 16:27 “I lean heavily on the MACE quotient…” what is that? thanks

  2. In terms of plotting, my method is somewhat similar to Brandon’s:
    CharacterName-ChapterNumber (Writing the main theme of the chapter).docx

    As for how I plot, I tend to write my outlines like journals. I would casually write to myself what do I wish to achieve in terms of progressing the story of fleshing out the character properly. Just making sure that it doesn’t becomes too formal for me.

    And whenever I struggle to find a proper mood for my outlines, I will write brief paragraph or two of prose, but with text in italics and covered in quotes. It probably wouldn’t be included into the main prose writing, but it could be a “hooking moment”, something that could help me bring myself into the feel of writing that particular situation. With this, I find that my skin as a writer is of an outliner, but the soul of a discovery writer.

  3. It’s the windy foursome, Brandon, Mary, Mary Anne, and Wesley, happily retrofitting a first draft with structure! If your ending sags or doesn’t quite fit, or maybe your middle twists and turns like a runaway rollercoaster, or… what should you do? Well, our foursome have some ideas to tame the wild veer, and rebuild the structure. Promises, MACE, sidequests, proportion, and earning that ending with good solid pedaling on the try-fail cycles, even index cards and corkboards! Step right up, the transcripts in the archives or over here


    And you can read all about it! Right now!

  4. This was perhaps the most relevant podcast to my writing of any in the new season. I wanted it to keep going for another half-hour. :)

    My first stab at a NaNoWriMo last year collapsed from some of the issues mentioned in this podcast. I came away appreciating the huge amount of organization that goes into a novel behind the scenes (something I realized afterward that I needed to have in place before November started!).

    I had a concept I wanted to make a novel out of but not enough ideas in it to make it novel-length. :)

  5. What are your tools for fixing broken scenes? I´ve got:
    -yes, but / no, and,
    -seven point structure

    What else is there?

    1. Check out WE 10-25: Making a Scene? Also, look for scene-sequel (action/reaction, is the way I remember it, although the more common term is scene-sequel — the action scene, followed by the sequel where the character reacts to the failure, figures out what to do next, and gets ready to do it!).

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