12 Weeks to Nailing Your 10 Key Scenes

A Master Class for Novelists Writing the Commercial Best Seller - STARTS Sept. 6, 2021

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12 Weeks to Writing Your 10 Key Scenes

The 10 Key Scenes are your foundation to building a terrific novel. Regardless of genre, commercially successful novels follow expected story structure, and the easiest way to build a solid story is to nail those 10 key scenes.

What are the 10 Key Scenes?

They are your Setup, Inciting Incident, Midpoint, Dark Night Moment, Climax, Resolution, 2 Key Twists, and 2 Key Pinch Point scenes. Nearly every great, successful novel contains these 10 scenes, and that’s why it’s important to master them!

In this master course, experienced fiction writers will nail the 10 key scenes by participating in a proven process that will fast-track a deep understanding of great scene writing.

This is a twofold process. During the 12 weeks, writers will write all of their 10 key scenes as well as critique the scenes of other writers in their assigned critique group. Having scenes critiqued each week helps writers get immediate, valuable feedback on what’s working and what needs improvement for each of the 10 scenes.

Writers will craft their scenes and critique others’ scenes using the focuses they’re taught in the weekly lecture. It’s recommended writers first take the course 8 Weeks to Writing the Commercially Successful Novel before enrolling in this master class (though it’s not mandatory).

It’s important writers have a solid understanding of novel structure, and while it’s not crucial to have this nailed at the start of the course, students will be expected to do all the assignments to provide them with the skills needed to successfully navigate this course and provide helpful insights to their fellow students.

Here’s what you’ll be doing over these 12 weeks:

  • Meeting weekly on Zoom, starting Monday September 6 (time to be determined). Depending on how many enroll, there may possibly be two times to choose from. (The lectures and discussion will be recorded and uploaded to the week’s modules, so it isn’t required to attend these live.)
  • Laying out your ten key scenes in a chart, along with your five turning points, to prepare to start writing your scenes
  • Getting acquainted with your critique group and setting up a day/time to meet weekly to discuss your scenes and the week’s focus
  • Sticking to a tight, intense schedule of writing and submitting one scene a week and critiquing two writers’ scenes a week
  • Reading sample scenes and scene summaries of current best sellers to learn technique and nuances applicable to the specific scenes you’ll be writing and critiquing
  • Watching specific video modules in the online course The 10 Key Scenes That Frame Up Your Novel (enrollment in that course is included in the price of this course)

Here’s how you know if you are ready to take this 12-week course on the 10 Key Scenes:

  • You’ve written at least one draft of a novel.
  • You’ve already worked out the idea for your current novel and will be able to lay out your 10 Key Scene ideas the very first week (some of your ideas may change going forward, but that’s okay),
  • You’re willing to write rough-draft scenes out of order (because you will be doing that!) and revise.
  • You’re committed to stick with the course the full 12 weeks and commit to submitting one scene a week and critiquing two others.
  • You’re eager to learn, improve, and encourage other writers as you nail your 10 Key Scenes.

Ready to get that novel underway? Then enroll in the course, which starts September 6th! You can prepare by working on your story idea and playing around with an outline.

If you aren’t sure you’ll be ready by the first week, consider hiring me to help you prepare. You can book a phone consultation to go over your concept and overall plot to ensure you have a great premise, compelling characters, and plot elements that will make it a book worth writing.

Or you can have me critique your notes and scene ideas (or even a rough outline) to check to see if the ten scenes you write will be perfect for your story.

What you learn in this course will help you write a terrific novel every time! If you’re serious about becoming a successful novelist and you want to write your best book, then this course is for you!


Testimonials from Writers Who've Taken C. S. Lakin's Master Classes

“The master critique group has been amazing. Since starting this group, my writing skills and grasp of story mechanics have improved exponentially due to Susanne's guidance and direction as well as input from members of the group. I was stuck writing on my own, and this has given me the push and tools I needed to accomplish my goals.” —Jenny Perry, PhD

“Susanne's Master Critique Group was very useful for receiving external feedback on my work. I learned a lot by doing this course and improved my ability to critique and see what needs revising in my own work as well. Susanne is a great teacher, full of energy and enthusiasm and can edit a writer's scene without offending but illuminating where it can be improved. It wasn't easy but I thoroughly enjoyed the process.” —Samantha Ridgway

“Susanne's Master Critique Groups show you how to develop and polish every aspect of your scenes. Her wealth of experience and compassionate teaching will help you keep your readers hooked on every page.” —Will Wraxall

“I had hit a brick wall and not written anything in six months. This workshop was a much needed kick in the pants. I found the commitment to submit a scene a week for critiquing, and critiquing two other writers' scene every week, fleshed out the helpful basics Susanne teaches. What I learned about writing gave me a fresh evaluation of my work and more importantly the motivation and the tools to enjoy writing again.” —Gene Quinones

“I have learned SO much in such a short space of time. It was a big commitment to make, but it was so, so worth it. I won’t ever regret it—at the very least, my writing will be so much better than before. The very best outcome is beyond exciting and I feel far more confident about making that dream a reality.” —Liz Thompson

“Susanne has an amazing ability to analyze scenes and point out the subtleties of what works and why. As an instructor, she is encouraging and patient. You’ll love working with her!” —Dana Killion

“Susanne's Master Critique Groups are an amazing way to accelerate your writing. You'll quickly learn techniques on plotting and craft that normally takes writers years to develop. I was stalled on a manuscript and after only a few sessions could see exactly what I needed to do to continue with revisions. I highly recommend any of Susanne's courses to both new and experienced writers.” —Jean Grabow

“Susanne Lakin's Master Critique group has been the single most helpful workshop/class that I have attended. She covered topics that are imperative to writing an excellent novel. She presented excerpts from published novels as examples and created charts and templates to strengthen characters, dialogue, scenes, plots, etc. to draw in readers. The course is intense but not overwhelming. Weekly critiques from group members focused on the material Susanne had covered in the workshop. Critiques from Susanne during the workshop were the most valuable aspect. I learned more from Susanne in her Master Critique group than I have from any craft book or workshop.” — Elyse Garrett

Your Instructor


C. S. Lakin
C. S. Lakin

C. S. Lakin is the award-winning author of thirty books and blogger at Live Write Thrive, a top-ten site for writers. She works as a copyeditor and writing coach in the book publishing industry, specializing in manuscript critiques. Her writing craft book series, The Writer's Toolbox, teaches aspiring and experienced novelists how to write terrific stories. She loves nothing more than to help writers craft stellar novels and experience success and joy in their writing journey.


Frequently Asked Questions


When does the course start and finish?
The course runs for 12 weeks: starts September 6th and ends on November 22nd.
How long do I have access to the course?
While the course takes place over 12 weeks, you will have lifetime access into the course module to watch the videos and download any of the worksheets, handouts, and sample scenes.
What if I am unhappy with the course?
We would never want you to be unhappy! If you are unsatisfied with your purchase, contact us in the first 30 days and we will give you a full refund.
Who should take this course?
This course is a master class for fiction writers who have completed at least one draft of a novel. The focus of the course is on mastering the 10 key scenes of a commercial novel, so it is ideal for writers who are working on a novel aimed to fit into a popular genre.
What will I be required to do in preparation for the course?
You'll need to have worked out a loose plot and be ready to lay out your ten key scene ideas. You'll also need to start watching the videos in the online course The 10 Key Scenes That Frame Up Your Novel (enrollment is included in this course price).
Will I be required to participate in a weekly critique group?
Yes. Enrollment in this course requires you submit one of your ten key scenes a week for critique by other writers as well as to critique two writers' scenes a week. This is an in-depth hands-on intensive course that requires commitment, dedication, and diligent participation.

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