by | Writing | 15 comments

Author Marion Ueckermann is my guest today. Enjoy Marion’s blog tour and tips to keep readers engaged. And note the drawing below for a chance to receive an eBook of Marion’s novel.

Passport to Romance Blog Tour Logo2Helsinki Sunrise, a Passport to Romance, blog tour follows on from yesterday’s stop in Central Alberta, Canada with Marcia Lee Laylock where I posted a book review with a difference.

Today I share with you the magic formula I discovered to keep up the conflict, and thereby keep the reader turning the page.

Helsinki Sunrise was the first manuscript I applied the method to, and I wish I’d known about it earlier. I’ll have to do a lot of rewriting on my previous manuscripts, but I know it will be worth it.

Applying this method from Dwight Swain, I turned critiquers’ comments from “…this is where I’d stop reading,” to “…as a reader I loved the conflict which works because often I was tired and needed to go to bed but I had to see the next sub to know what happened.”




Dwight Swain, in his book Techniques of the Selling Writer, identifies two distinct types of scenes. I think of them as major and minor—major is a scene that is made up of a Goal, Conflict, and a Disaster; and the minor scene, called a sequel, is made up of Reaction, Dilemma, and a Decision.

This method forced me to be more of a plotter, because I’m a pantser at heart. I now think about the chapter, plot it out using the Scene/Sequel method, and then write it. I create an Excel worksheet for each chapter. I use a different colored font for each POV character.

Scene Sequel Chart

SCENES are action-packed and have three parts:

  • Goal. What the POV character wants to achieve (and it must be achievable within the Scene).
  • Conflict. The middle part (bulk) of the Scene is filled with conflict. Without conflict the reader becomes bored. Make the hero/heroine struggle.
  • Disaster. A Scene must end with a disaster. Your POV character doesn’t reach his Goal. If characters do reach their goals, there’s no reason for the reader to stay up and turn the page. A disaster is the hook.

But readers cannot be on an adrenaline highs all the time, and Sequels give them time to catch their breath before the next action-packed, conflict-laden Scene.

SEQUELS also have three parts:

  • Reaction. When disaster strikes, your POV character will have a reaction to that disaster. Allow your reader to experience the emotions along with your POV character.
  • Dilemma. This reaction must lead to a dilemma that leaves the POV character with no good options.
  • Decision. Your POV character will then make the best possible decision under the circumstances, and this in turn becomes the goal for the next Scene.

You will eventually end the Scene/Sequel cycle and bring the story to an end, and before your readers know what’s happened, they’ve reached the end of the story, too.

 This Scene/Sequel method of writing has really revolutionized my writing. Click to tweet.




HelsinkiSunrise_w11668_680 (2)He needed the island to himself. So did she.

Three weeks alone at a friend’s summer cottage on a Finnish lake to fast and pray. That was Adam Carter’s plan. But sometimes plans go awry.

On an impromptu trip to her family’s secluded summer cottage, the last thing Eveliina Mikkola expected to find was a missionary from the other side of the world—in her sauna.

Determined to stay, Eveliina will do whatever it takes—from shortcrust pastry to shorts—to send the man of God packing. This island’s too small for them both.

Adam Carter, however, is not about to leave.

Will he be able to resist her temptations?

Can she withstand his prayers?




Be sure to follow this blog tour tomorrow. There be a double stopover, both at locations in Australia. We’ll take a look at Finland with Narelle Atkins, and at a Finnish wedding with Inspirational Romance hosted by Rita Galieh.

There will be an eBook of Helsinki Sunrise up for grabs today. To be entered into the drawing, please leave a comment with your email address before September 19th.*

Numerous eBooks of Helsinki Sunrise will be given away on the blog tour, so take a journey to each of the stops and leave a comment. Don’t forget to include your email address.

Helsinki Sunrise is available to purchase from Pelican Book Group,, Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Kobo, and iTunes.

Watch the Helsinki Sunrise book trailer on YouTube.

Watch the Passport to Romance book trailer on YouTube.

Marion Ueckermann1 - SMALLERMarion Ueckermann’s passion for writing was sparked in 2001 when she moved to Ireland with her husband and two sons. Since then she has published devotional articles and stories in Winners, The One Year Devotional of Joy and Laughter (Tyndale House Publishers), and Chicken Soup for the Soul: Miraculous Messages from Heaven, and her debut novelette, Helsinki Sunrise (White Rose Publishing, a Pelican Book Group imprint, Passport to Romance series).

Marion blogs for International Christian Fiction Writers and Beauty for Ashes. She belongs to Christian Writers of South Africa and American Christian Fiction Writers. She lives in Pretoria East, South Africa in an empty nest with her husband and their crazy black Scottie, Wally.

Connect with Marion Ueckermann: Website / Amazon / Facebook / Twitter / Pinterest

Blogs: A Pebble in my Pocket / Foreign Affaire

* Void where prohibited; the odds of winning depend on the number of entrants. Entering the giveaway is considered a confirmation of eligibility on behalf of the enterer in accord with these rules and any pertaining local/federal/international laws.

Permission to use images obtained.

Newsletter Signup

Please subscribe to my newsletter, Zoe’s Zigzags, and receive a free short story.”

Author Zoe M. McCarthy Newsletter Signup

Follow Blog Via Email

Enter your email address to subscribe to this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email.

Join 3,836 other subscribers
-786Days -4Hours 00Mins -39Secs

American Christian Fiction Writers

American Christian Fiction Writers

You may also like


  1. Marion Ueckermann

    Thanks for hosting me today on your blog, Zoe. It was great fun sharing what I’ve learned along the way.

  2. Zoe M. McCarthy

    You are welcome, Marion. I’ve used the tips you shared and it really does help make better scenes and chapters.

  3. sashirl

    Well written Marion

    • Zoe M. McCarthy

      Thanks for your interest and stoping by, Shirl.

  4. Jane Foard Thompson

    I cringed at the thought of trying another technique, but this really makes sense, and seems to pull together several others I’ve used. Thank you.

    • Zoe M. McCarthy

      Jane, I have to agree with, Marion, this technique made a lot of difference in putting scenes together in my last manuscript. I was so excited that she wrote this post.

  5. Sara Goff

    It’s really helpful to keep these steps in mind. I tend to forget the steps and go by intuition, but then there’s the risk of writing yourself into a corner. Thanks!

  6. Zoe M. McCarthy

    So true, Sara. I have the steps in a check-off sheet. I know my impatient intuition wants to skip over some to get on to the next scene!

  7. Jael Roy

    I’d have to say there are different types of stories. Sometimes the growth of the character or the revealing of an unknown are enough to move the plot forward. I think it takes a variety to really hold the readers attention. I, at least, don’t want or need an adrenaline rush every other scene. I’m hoping I’ll get the chance to read Helsinki Sunrise–whatever she writes, Marion keeps her readers turning the pages.

  8. Zoe M. McCarthy

    Jael, I think you’re right in that the “disasters” aren’t always something that causes an adrenaline rush, but they must be a conflict or a problem that keeps the story going and interesting.

    • Marion Ueckermann

      True, Zoe. And I think the idea behind “adrenaline rush”, is that disaster item (whatever form it takes), that will keep the reader reading until he has to put the light out 🙂

  9. Zoe M. McCarthy

    How cruel we authors are, trying to keep readers reading when they should be sleeping. I have insomnia a lot. I don’t read my book before I go to bed because I’m afraid that mean author will make my insomnia worse. I play boring solitaire on my iPad instead.

  10. Donna Fletcher Crow

    I have used Dwight Swain’s scene/sequel structure for years and taught it at many conferences. I instinctively did that most of the time anyway because I started out as a playwright, so thought in terms of scenes, but I agree–having the formula in your head can be a huge boost when you’re stuck and don’t know what to do and can help you answer that niggling question when you feel something is wrong, but don’t know what.

  11. Zoe M. McCarthy

    Donna, I think it’s becoming a “habit” after I’ve written a book full of scenes. I hope so. I think the structure is popular in craft teaching, because I learned it through My Book Therapy.

  12. Marion Ueckermann

    The winner of Helsinki Sunrise eBook is Sara Goff. Winners were drawn using

    Trust you will enjoy your time on Lake Sahajarvi at the Mikkola summer cottage.

    An email will be sent shortly, Sara, with your redemption code.


  1. HOW TO KEEP YOUR READERS TURNING THE PAGE | Marion Ueckermann ~ Author - […] Thursday found us in Southwestern Virginia, USA with Zoe M. McCarthy. […]

Pin It on Pinterest