Episode 165 – 12 Key Pillars of Novel Construction

By CBramkamp Newbie Writers Podcast 2 Comments on Episode 165 – 12 Key Pillars of Novel Construction

The Newbie Writers’ Podcast

Special guest: Susanne Lakin

We talked with Susanne in Episode 143
But she has a new book out: The 12 Key Pillars of Novel Construction: Your Blueprint for Building a Strong Story (The Writer’s Toolbox The 12 Key Pillars of Novel Construction)
Live Write Thrive.com


C.S. Lakin is novelist and writing coach who spends her time divided between developing new book ideas and helping writers polish theirs. She is the author of fourteen novels – six contemporary novels, seven in the fantasy/sci-fi genre, and one in historical Western romance. Whether she is exploring the depths of the human psyche and pushing her characters to the edge of desperation, or embellishing an imaginary world replete with talking pigs and ancient magical curses, she is doing what she loves best – using her creativity and skills to inspire and affect her readers.

In all her books she seeks to journey to the heart of human motivation, to uncover unmet needs, and show the path to healing and grace.

Some of my favorite and most helpful questions from the book

In what ways is your kicker tied in with your protagonist’s core need? Greatest fear? Deepest desire? How does his/her goal embody the concept? What one element or focus makes you excited about your concept? Why will it also excite readers? Can you make it into something controversial?


Picture a movie poster for your novel. What one key scene is pictured on it that embodies your concept and kicker? Describe it.


What is the main gut response/emotional reaction you want your concept to evoke? Explain. Think of ways to tweak your concept so the reaction will be stronger.


What iconic scene can you write in your novel that will showcase the essence of your concept and kicker? How can you make it even bigger, more intense?


What iconic scene can you write in your novel that will showcase the essence of your concept and kicker? How can you make it even bigger, more intense?


What strong inner conflict is your MC dealing with? Come up with two things she must choose between, both unthinkable. Tell how this showcases your novel’s theme.


How does your MC change by the end of the book due to the central conflict? How do her attitude and actions toward that conflict change, and as a result, how does the conflict itself change?


What is the central inner conflict your protagonist is dealing with as it pertains to the concept? Can you increase it?


Do you have any scenes where everyone is happy and all is well? Can you think of a monkey wrench to throw in there to upend things?


Word of the Week:





noun: A company or agency owned wholly or partly by the government.
adjective: Relating to such an organization.



From Greek para- (beside) + state, from Latin status (condition). Earliest documented use: 1944.


Change of venue. I read a great list the other day: great places to write. Make a list now so when you come smack up against some kind of writer’s block, you are ready with a separate list idea of where to go to shake things up. Don’t wait and make the list when you’re blocked.

On my list:







Walk to anywhere and sit at the end of the walk and write.

Foreign country

And never, ever on an airplane. I need to work on that.


Tortured Sentences:

Description of a book – the Forgotten Cottage

When Annie and her fiancé Will purchase an old cottage to renovate, she’s excited for a peaceful, fresh start. But something is lurking in her new home, and it threatens to destroy everything she holds dear in this atmospheric tale.


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  • Robin Israel
    Posted on March 18, 2015 at 7:24 am

    Enjoying this episode. I don’t think pantsing is WRONG, but it really is not particularly great for new writers. Once you have a great sense of plotting and it’s ingrained in you, you can work without the plot plan… Personally, I am terrible with plot so I need to keep considering plot over and over–otherwise I’ll wind up with nothing but a big character study that doesn’t go anywhere.

  • CBramkamp
    Posted on March 18, 2015 at 8:33 am

    I agree, extensive and complete character sketches are really helpful. The plot, especially a mystery or science fiction, does need the help of a mind map or an outline. I tend to make the outline of the plot once I “know” where the book is heading!

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