So, I just built an ottoman. (Never thought I’d write that sentence in my life, but there it is.) We repurposed a mattress from a toddler bed for the top–that’s how big this thing is–but it’s very sturdy and functional. I have very little skill in carpentry or woodworking, but all I had to do was look up some tutorial online and follow the instructions. Easy.
Novels are not furniture or baking mixes. You don’t just execute the steps in the right order. You don’t just measure, cut, and assemble.
But novels do have structure. At the very least, we can all agree that novels have a beginning, a middle, and an ending. How much further can we take that structure? Are there other parts of a long-form story that are universal to all novels?
I’m very much a believer that writers must find the methods that work best for them. But just as a musician must first understand something about the structure of music (rhythm, tempo, scales, etc.) to be able to invent and improvise, so, too, must a story writer have some understanding of the structure of story.
My previous article featured a list of novel structure resources. Having combed through that list, I found some common ground among the various paradigms I investigated. Below is a video in which I walk through the plot points I saw over and over again in my research.
- See my Compendium of Novel Structure Resources for a bibliography and some helpful links.
- Interested in that KM Weiland article about the key event vs. plot point #1? Here it is.
- Allen Palmer on the midpoint.
- Check out my online video courses:
- Create momentum in your stories to keep the reader engaged.
- Master techniques for creating tension in your stories.
- Subscribe to my newsletter to get biweekly craft tips (if you haven’t already done so).
- If you missed my “cheat sheet” on novel structure paradigms, check it out by clicking on the image below:
And here’s a diagram of the structure I discuss in the video: