this is just a copy paste from Wen Spencer's blog, haven't really reformed it to be easy to digest out of context.
a story is a hero with a problem. That the first scene is the hero acknowledging or discovering the problem and making the first attempt to solve it and failing. That the next two scenes are the hero trying and trying to fix the problem and only succeeding at making it worse. And finally the hero tries and ultimately fails or succeeds and the lesson that the hero takes away from the experience. Short story – four scenes.
On collabing to make a fanfic novel
Secondly the whole world building was done and known and I didn't have to explain anything, so for the first time, I started to understand how stories are multi-layered. Yes, yes, there can be monsters ... but what really drives the story is the hero's conflict within himself.
This time marks a huge jump forward in my writing. Part of it because the stories are short and world is known [fanfic], I can focus on the plot and the dialogue and conflict and motivations – the bones of writing. And I do it over and over again.
This ultimately lead to us doing a epic fan novel which we called Dragonfall. A bunch of us sat down and plotted out this story where each of our characters had four or five scenes – beginning, middle, end – interwoven into a bigger story, which was a threadfall that goes horrific. Where each of our beginnings not only set up our individual conflict but moves through the preparations of the dragonriders to ride out to fight thread. Middle scenes advance our own plot, but also advances the mid-air disaster and then the dragonriders returning wounded to the weyr. And then end, tying up our storylines and at the same time tying up how the world stands after all this horrific things have happened. And *poof poof poof* light bulbs goes off right and left. THIS IS HOW YOU WRITE A NOVEL!