Archaeologist By Day/Writer By Night: How To Find The Amazing In Your Novel

Today, I rediscovered what it is like to be a Mommy archaeologist. By that I mean, discovering buried treasure…or normal everyday things buried under a load of debris.

The past caught up with me this past week while I was working on a writing deadline. Now I’m left with my broom and an insurmountable amount of debris… toys, papers, baseball uniforms, mail, dishes…you name it, I think it might be in there somewhere.

Do I leave it there? Well, now there is a tempting option, but I do need to restore a bit organization if we are going find anything this week. Sigh. Time to roll up my sleeves.

How about your manuscript? Once you have finished the rough draft or what I like to call the plot draft, you have to go back an uncover the amazing in your story. Let’s face it, that’s no small thing.

So, time to test your archaeologist skills. When you go back to look at your manuscript in the editing stage there are many things to work on, but today I want to focus on the spine of your novel. This is the overall edit, not the individual scene edits. Those are a bit different.

Many writer’s forget to check the spine of the novel or the plot layout of their novel to make sure that everything is lined up to make their story the best it can be. If we uncover the plot spine and make sure that it is straight, then you are in good shape to start your scene edits.

Some of the best plot tips I’ve received are from My Book Therapy and James Scott Bell’s Plot And Structure.

In Your Spine Edit Check For The Following Things:


*Start with a scene that is on the move

*Strong Story Hook

*Establishes Your Hero/Heroine’s Spiritual Journey- The lie they believe or the thing that they need to change

*Establishes the home world of your character

*The Character is given an invitation to change and embrace Spiritual truth, but they reject it.

*Inciting Incident that sends your character on their journey.

*Establishes the story question

*Sends each POV character on a quest to achieve something


*At least three Disasters/Conflicts that your character must face(All POV Characters Must Have this)

*Show character growth in a logical sequence

*Tension continues to build, each hardship gets more difficult to face

*Subplot starts in this section of the book

*Everything Escalates to the Black Moment, or the darkest moment for your character where they fear they will lose it all.


*Truth is brought to your character

*They have an epiphany, or realize the truth and accept it

*They attempt to act on this new truth and fail

*They don’t give up, the climax of the plot leads them to overcome their doubt

*They are a new person.

There are many components to the editing process. If you look at the spine of your novel, before you begin to edit scenes, it will save you the difficulty of having to rewrite scenes to match the story spine.

What things are on your checklist for the spine edit?



About Michelle Lim

Author Michelle Lim is the Brainstorming/Huddle Coach with My Book Therapy Press and the Midwest Zone Director for American Christian Fiction Writers. Michelle’s romantic suspense is represented by Karen Solem of Spencillhill Associates and has gained contest recognition in the Frasier, the Genesis, and the Phoenix Rattler, winning the Genesis in 2015 for her genre. Michelle writes devotionals for The Christian Pulse Online Magazine and Putting On The New. Since her nonfiction book release, Idea Sparking: How To Brainstorm Conflict In Your Novel, through public speaking and online chats Michelle helps writers discover the revolutionary power of brainstorming to bring new life to their stories.

5 thoughts on “Archaeologist By Day/Writer By Night: How To Find The Amazing In Your Novel

  1. Oh, Thank you, Michelle! Your explanation of the Spine made if finally click in my brain. I never got it before. And it couldn’t come at a better time as I’m working on my plot for the next book.

  2. Michelle Lim says:

    So glad it gave you some help! I remember my first novel, the subplot started on page one, LOL. We all can use the review sometimes.

  3. Did God ask you to write this for me? The last few days, I’ve been wondering how to step back and look at the big picture of my stories. This helps a lot.
    I’ve prayed about a mentor and had no idea how to get one. And I’m not asking you to be my mentor, but the last couple of weeks you’ve helped me so much. I wanted you to know you are a huge blessing to me.
    Thanks so much!

  4. Michelle Lim says:

    Jackie, I am so glad to hear that my blog is helping! I do know what it is like to search for solid information as a new writer. If there are any topics you particularly need help with, leave a comment and I will try to post a blog about it. Praying for you on your journey!

  5. M. Saint-Germain says:

    Great reminder, Michelle. Why is my spine invisible to me, but when I read and listen to other’s stories identifying their spine it’s as plain as white paper? Ugh! This is a handy checklist.

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