Book Review – Structuring Your Novel:
Essential Keys for Writing an Outstanding Story
by K.M. Weiland
Is Structure the Hidden Foundation of All Successful Stories?
Read a novel or watch a movie and you’ll know almost immediately whether it will succeed or not. Why? The structure either pulled you in or left you thinking “Why am I wasting my time with this?”[Tweet “Why do some stories work and others don’t? According to Weiland, the answer is structure.”]
As a person whose been actively writing for over forty years, I am quite familiar with structure. But that structure revolved around technical writing, not novels. Technical articles, journals, and manuals have a precise structure that must be followed. Veer from the accepted norm and your peers will let you know. It didn’t matter if the prose were boring or not, structure was necessary and required.
Fast forward to today when I write novels rather than technical manuals and structure plays just as much of a role. The difference is how the structure is structured. Yeah I know that sentence seems off, but it’s not. Technical manuals follow an A, B, C, format. Novels don’t, yet they must have structure or they are flat and leave you and bored. So I ask again, – Is structure the hidden foundation of all successful stories?
Enter K.M Weiland and her approach to novel structure. In her book Structuring Your Novel, she shows, with examples, how great authors and playwrights used structure to pull the reader/viewer into the novel or film. My first thought was, “Here is a template that anyone can follow. Just plug in your words and Bam, you have a best seller.” Yeah, right – not so fast.
Weiland shows how structure is more then a template – way more. Yes, there is a formatted chain of events that a good novel or movie follows, but it’s how you develop those events, within the structure, that determines greatness. Put your plot points too far forward or back and your novel won’t flow properly. Fail to develop believable characters and your reader will never invest in why things are so important to them.
An understanding of proper story and scene structure will show you how to perfectly time your story’s major events and will provide you with an unerring standard against which to evaluate your novel’s pacing and progression.
Structuring Your Novel will show you:
- How to determine the best techniques for empowering your unique and personal vision for your story.
- How to identify common structural weaknesses and flip them around into stunning strengths.
- How to eliminate saggy middles by discovering your “centerpiece.”
- Why you should NEVER include conflict in every scene.
- How to discover the questions you don’t want readers asking about your plot—and then how to get them to ask the right questions.
Story structure has enabled countless bestselling and classic authors. Now it’s your turn!
I read Weiland’s book several times and found it to be extremely valuable. Checked out her web page and also found a great visual of the structure she proposes in the book. This is a great book for anyone who wants to start writing novels or is already doing so and wants to brush up on the structure that makes good novels great.
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