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Question On Structure

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My writing is just now catching up with my faith. Practically everything I've written until now has been secular. And so many of my wonderings at the present are structural and procedural. I could talk about the structure of a fantasy novel all day long and have based a lot of my writing around Joseph Campbell's the Hero's Journey archetype. I've read many Christian novel and I'm analyzing them currently. Does the structure hold true? I think many of us may be looking for a how-to. 

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S11, I'm moving your comment to the writing forum and its own thread. This thread is for site conversation. :D

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Hi s11rsn4598pha,


Sometimes it helps to stop analyzing and structuralizing and just write a good story.  You sound like you have the basic layout for a novel down pat.  Creativity is a delicate enough spark in the beginning, and encouraging it to become a brilliant burst of flame is hard enough without analytics getting in the way.


In the end, all that counts is how it reads.




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Simplify! Don't worry too much about goals and signposts. You can get really into structure like I do, but you might do better to think of a simple three act structure instead, and plan from there!

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Hey (unpronouncable username), welcome!

Two authors who started here as members years ago strongly advocate for structure: K.M. (Katie) Weiland and C.S. (Susanne) Lakin. I've read their works and have learned much. I think there's utility in knowing what the structure is, and then going out and writing your own thing and see how your story matches up with established structure. 

I'm a pantser who uses Scrivener to write scenes. I mostly start at the beginning and finish at the end, but love being able to easily shift scenes around after-the-fact if they work better somewhere other than where I first imagined them.

It's kind of like researching the tar out of a subject for a talk and then 'winging it' when you get to the podium. By the time you've done all the background work, you don't need to look at all that research to share what's on your mind - you've got a good handle on it. Same thing here.

(As a Space Opera fan, I have some affection for The Hero's Journey, but I'm not slavish about it. STAR WARS worked out pretty well for George Lucas, and then he broke off and told new stories. Some of them worked better than others. Such is the writing life.)

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Don't tell anyone, Phy ( I don't want it to get out that structure is pretty cool, too ), but I'm going to buy Katie's software to see how it rolls.  Meant to do it earlier, but I was distracted.



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33 minutes ago, suspensewriter said:

Don't tell anyone, Phy


Heh. Your secret's safe with me. ;)

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11 minutes ago, carolinamtne said:

I didn't hear that.


Hear what? 


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On the issue of structure, I do feel very strongly.

I've seen a lot of writers who argue that they're going to ignore structure and just write - they're either doing structure without being aware of it, or they're unpublished.

Story is structure.

Act 1, II, III. Story goes wrong, gets worse, gets much worse then in the last 10% gets better.

Violate this and you won't get published.

Now from there, try this

Figure out your logline (a simple explanation of what your story is)

Figure out acts 1,2,3

now take the save the cat structure (it's 15 points

1 — Opening Image 0:00:00

A visual or scene that sets the tone of the story and introduces the protagonist.


2 — The Theme Stated 0:05:00

A scene that sets up or teases the message or essential truth of your story.


3 — Set-Up 0:00 to 10:00

Scenes that introduce the characters’ world, introduce supporting characters, and point to changes to come.


4 — Catalyst / Inciting Incident 12:00

The surprise moment that turns the protagonist’s world upside down and kicks off the main plot.


5 — Debate 12:00 to 25:00

Tension mounts and the protagonist ponders whether to undertake the journey. What is at stake?


6 — Break into Act II 25:00

The protagonist chooses to take action and the journey begins; protagonist enters a new and strange experience.


7 — B-Story 30:00

The protagonist learns about the theme, usually with the aid of a mentor, friend, or love interest


8 — Fun and Games 30:00 to 55:00

The conflict kicks into high gear: bad guys attack, lovers fight, mysteries deepen


9 — Midpoint 55:00

The second big turning point: Goals are achieved… but a reversal upsets the plan. This story is far from finished. 


10 — Bad Guys Close In 55:00 to 75:00

Troubles pile up in the fallout from the Midpoint, either from literal “bad guys” or the hero’s flaws and doubts.


11 — Crisis / All Is Lost 75:00

The opposite moment from the Midpoint: A disaster that makes the goal appear to be impossible


12 — Dark Night of the Soul 75:00 to 85:00

In the aftermath of the Crisis, the hero hits rock bottom emotionally as everything falls apart.


13 — Break into Act III 85:00

The B-Story [7] returns to provide fresh ideas or a new inspiration, derived from the Theme [2].


14 — Finale 85:00 to 110:00

The protagonist tries again, drawing on experience and understanding of the Theme in the climactic sequence.


15 — Final Image 110:00

The flip side of the Opening Image [1], showing how the protagonist and the world have changed. 


Expand that to 21 points.

expand that to 60 points..

Create 60 scenes in Scrivener

Take your one paragraph blurbs and put them in your scene summaries

Write your novel.

Make millions

Come back and tell me how you did it, so I can do it too.

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1 hour ago, Nicholas Reicher said:

Come back and tell me how you did it, so I can do it too.



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