Now that we have gone over how to choose a structure, it’s time to think about what to do once we’ve settled on one. After you have chosen a structure,try to:
- Use Details to Strengthen Structure. Everything can help strengthen your structure – even details as small as the names chosen for characters. Try not to let details go to waste by doing little more than describing the physical nature of characters or settings. For example, if your structure centers around songs like Michelle’s does, it can’t hurt to have your characters have the same first names of the artists that wrote some of your feature songs – especially for side characters, or for when you can’t find names that “just fit.”
- Form Chapters that Stand (Moderately) Alone. Some structures do not allow for a chapter format, but if yours does, consider forming chapters that “make sense in isolation.” If a chapter reads beginning-to-end like a miniature story, than you are breaking your book up into pieces that will fit together tightly. This in turn will make your structure stronger.
- Finalize Your Prologue Last. Your tale should always be tellable without a prologue; if you add one, it should add something to the story, but not be required for the story to make sense. Because of this non-necessity, a prologue can exist outside your normal structure, or even help to set it up. A way to maximize the structural potential of your prologue is to add or reevaluate it after the rest of your draft is done. It took me three years to figure out my prologue for IWTYT – but it does ten times the work of anything else I’d come up with before, in part because I added it last.
- Align Your Emotional & Event Arcs. During the course of the story, there are both event and emotional story arcs – and they should basically run parallel to one another. After all, they often form a cause and effect relationship. If you already have an event planned in your outline, pencil in what emotion will follow, and vice versa. This will allow for natural progression.
- Maximize Your Scene Order Potential. If your plot structure or progression doesn’t feel right, try putting all your events onto note cards and penciling in the reasons why each scene is important. You could find a better order for them, and cut out scenes that don’t pull their weight.
Session I Missed:
The next post will be about the Writing Place in Fiction session with Christine Sneed. To see this session, I had to miss the #SoMe: Why Social Media Really Isn’t About You session by Nora Brathol. If you went to that session, consider doing a simultaneous or guest blog to correspond with my CWC Recap!