Lessons and Readings Necessary To The Creation of a Competitive Commercial Manuscript
   By Michael Neff

As noted in our piece on scene storyboards, if you're working on a commercial fiction or narrative non-fiction manuscript, you will benefit if you view your project as possessing three layers of increasing complexity (yes, this is a BIG cake!):

Layer I: Overall story premise and plot. These involve top level decisions regarding major characters, the overall setting, plot line evolution, dramatic complications, theme, reversals, and other, as defined in the Six Act Two-Goal Novel guide (see below).

Layer II: story scenes and their structural nature, as well as inter-scene narrative. Consider your story generally composed of units of scene, each scene performing specific tasks in the novel, always moving the plot line(s) forward and evolving the character(s). Each scene contains an opening set, an evolution of middle, and conclusion. But whether scene-based, or inter-scene, this layer comprises the matter and techniques that clarify, evolve, and elaborate on the matters of Layer I.

Layer III: The narrative composition and delivery of your scenes and inter-scene text. This includes proper point of view(s), overall tone, the quality of the narrative prose in terms of sentences, cinema, emotion display, metaphor, and more.

For our purposes here, we will divide the extant group of Author Salon craft articles and notes into the three categories above.

NOTE: there is some overlap between layers and thus the need to repeat certain craft points or specific articles more than once.
All Author Salon writer members are required to engage in reviews of the following array of craft technique and apply to their project as appropriate and necessary. Author Salon editors and writer peers are advised to utilize these craft points as reference in the course of critique and discussion.

The following articles and guides were written by Michael Neff, Barbara Kyle, Chris Stewart, and Caitlin Alexander.


Whether Film Script or Fiction MS, Coverage Counts

The Six Act Two-Goal Novel (premise, reversals, complications, major points)

The Plot, Setting and Conflict Outline Guide (for breaking plot into acts and briefs)

The Novel Setting : Maximizing Opportunities For Verve and Uniqueness

A Clever Dose of Antagonistic Force (crafting the proper antagonist makes the novel)

Caitlin’s Guide to Precise Comparables (best article ever written on this crucial issue)

Crossing the Epiphany Line (what every serious writer must accomplish)


Whether Film Script or Fiction MS, Coverage Counts

Storyboard Considerations for Producing Effective Scenes

Energy in Opposition: The Forces Within Strong Scenes

Sympathy Factors in The Hook

Protagonist First Impressions

The Artful Manner of Delivering Exposition

Restoring the Troll Trope (beware overuse of tropes - applies to all genres)


Whether Film Script or Fiction MS, Coverage Counts

Strong Narrative Through Synergy: Samples of Powerful Fiction Narrative

"A Study in Third Person Point of View in Fiction and Novel Writing" by Michael Neff

Narrative : From Passive Voice to Eudora and Ray (all AS writers must achieve Level 3)

"To Be" or Not? Too Much "Was" Will Hurt Your MS

The Ultimate Narrative Block Buster: The PDQ (narrative think-tanking)

Literary Comparisons to Demonstrate The Creation of Competitive Fiction Narrative

Greek Out Your Sentence Structure

Prose Drills For Developing Style and Voice (writing exercises to hone style)