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Structuring Your Novel: Essential Keys for Writing an Outstanding Story Paperback – August 17, 2013
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KM Weiland systematically goes through the macro- and micro-structure of the novel. First, she tells us meticulously about the architecture of the three-act plan stories and all the important elements of it, e.g. first plot point, inciting event, climax, resolution. Then, she writes about the structure and dynamics of the scene and the two types scenes and their variations. Finally, she discusses the micro-structure at the level of sentences and the common signs of the clunky prose.
I have started following Katie's blog for writers, Wordplay, years ago and I think I've learned from her most of the techniques described here before I even started reading the book.
"Structuring Your Novel" is a distilled and well-organised digest of dozens of Wordplay blogposts and KM Weiland is definitely the right person to give us her expert opinion. She is a successful historical/speculative fiction writer, so a lot of teaching comes from her own experience.
I congratulate the author with this new brilliant guide for writers, I'm sure it will help many of us become better writers.
He makes the structural parts a novel interesting to learn about, like the characters he tells you to write about, that you should care enough about them to describe them well. He obviously cares about the structural parts of the novel because of the powers they hold, such as propelling the reader forward to want to know what happens next to the characters. Foreshadowing is another structural element that Weiland discusses early in the book.
Although I want to race through this book because it is so enjoyable, I am reading it slowly, practicing writing using some of the structural elements as I read about them, and taking notes. If the rest of the book is as good as the first part, then I'm sure it will have been , like finding out who the murderer is in a gripping who-dun-it novel, a satisfying use of my time .
I use a method of writing called 'free writing' which is really the generation of any ideas and putting it on paper, but I get writer's block. This book by Weiland, plus another method of writing called 'object writing' are helping me to get over the block.
As with other books by KM Weiland, you get a lot of bang for your buck. She has a deep understanding of story and her direct, simple style of writing will help you understand the principles quickly, and use them immediately. I used this book on its own while developing a story, and have since purchased the companion workbook: Structuring Your Novel Workbook: Hands-On Help for Building Strong and Successful Stories, also by KM Weiland.
The only improvement I could suggest would be a short chapter at the beginning that gives an overview of structure - the pieces involved and their proportionate use in a book or movie. It would set a map for the reader to follow, which then unfolds in the following chapters. this may be more of a personal preference - I like to learn and approach subjects from a high-level view first, then delve into the details. For a person just starting to write their first stories, it could be helpful.
Great job, KM, I enjoyed using and learning from this book.