In nurturing my writing career, one of the things that interested me (and frustrated me) most was how to structure a novel in order to grab the attention of readers. I say it frustrated me also, not because I didn’t like what I learned, but because I had a hard time making my story fit into those molds.
James Scott Bell’s LOCK system helped me zero in on what the big picture stuff needed to be, but I desperately wanted to articulate my story to an editor or agent in a way that popped.
So I attended workshops by Jeff Gerke, Randy Ingermanson, and the great folks from My Book Therapy. The material was awesome, but each system differed a bit. Even worse, I couldn’t see how my story could fit into the molds I’d learned about. Call it my inability to comprehend or my bullheadedness (Both might apply). But I had four major disasters instead of the three Randy taught us to have! And there was no love interest to be resolved by the end like another workshop mentioned. Was I doomed?
A strength of being bullheaded is that if you stay humble, you’ll never quit. So, I edited and re-structured. All good things that made my story better. Yet, I still didn’t feel like my story fit nicely into the structure guides I’d been given.
Enter a book entitled Hooked by Les Edgerton.
Immediately I knew I was in the hands of a master. This guy knew his stuff, and I was eating it up. Much like the previous teachings I’d received, I knew this would help me a ton. I re-read chapters, took notes, and re-examined some structure questions I’d been asking myself.
By the end, I’d finally found a system that seemed to work for the way I approached writing. And the cool part was I could see it in other successful stories as well. The best part came when I applied it to another novel I’d been working on last year (but struggling with), and I was able to clearly diagnose what was wrong with the story line.
Obviously we aren’t to sit down and put the pieces of a story into a structure so that it fits just to say it fits. Les Edgerton mentioned that all his rules don’t need to be followed. But he said that other areas of your story have to shine that much more if you ignore some of the principle’s he mentioned.
That’s something I can understand.
I’m sure the other courses/guides work for others. They might even be the same, yet I’m too dense to see it. But Hooked finally explained a system that works for me. It was cool to sit down with Book 2 of the Godslayer series and chart it out based on his approach. I was able to see some areas of the plot line that will need to be strengthened and fine-tuned. In the past, that had always been a struggle. This time through, it’s been exciting 🙂
So, what books or workshops have helped you structure your story better?