Your Novel Needs a Structure; You Need a Structure


Your Novel Needs a Structure

You Need a Structure

The hardest part about writing a novel is writing a novel. Now there’s a declarative sentence!

But it’s so true.

To write a novel you need a structure: a beginning and middle and end. Characters. Plot. Scenes. Events. But more importantly you need a frame for the length of your book on which you can hang your story: the action, characters, metaphors, plot twists, and drama.

Think of your novel as a room you have to measure with a long industrial ruler, one of those big, fat ones carpenters carry and whip out of their pockets like an old fashioned six shooter. That’s your plan. Your focus. Your design. That is how you will tell your tale.

You will measure the scenes and incidents, the drama and the dialogue and make sure everything fits. That’s your plan for writing your novel.

You also need a structure to your own life. Your novel won’t get written without you building yourself a creative corner.

How do you do that?

Simple. Well, it’s simple in the telling, harder to do.

Before you start to plot your novel, create your characters, develop scenes, get your house in order. Design the way you will live while you write your book.

Here are some suggestions that will help you over the long haul.

  • Find a quiet place in your home, apartment, bedroom, or garage, or wherever that will be yours while you write your book.
  • Have a view, so you can look out into space. Don’t make it too attractive or tempting a view. You just want to see something beyond your computer.
  • Disconnect and/or turn off your telephone, emails, television, radio, anything that might draw your attention away from the story you’re telling.
  • Create poster boards where you can post notes to yourself, paragraphs and pages you want to read again or research.
  • Set a schedule of when you will write. Don’t be ambitious. Start small. Try to write for 30-60 minutes a day. And do like Hemingway did, quit writing in the middle of the sentence, so you’ll have a jump start on the next day.
  • Keep handy your necessary reference books, i.e., dictionary, thesaurus, maps, etc.
  • Have on hand plenty of coffee, coke, tea, etc. whatever you drink. Don’t be going out into the kitchen to make some sort of a refreshment and where you will be tempted to turn on the TV and check the weather or last night’s sports scores. (I had a friend who would tie himself into his chair to keep from jumping up on some sort of errand that would delay his writing and take him away from his book.)
  • Don’t show your writing to anyone for any reason until you have finished your first draft.
  • Every day before starting to write read out loud what you wrote the day before.
  • Finally, if you have written a particularly good sentence or paragraph that you really like, print it out and pin it to your wall or board so you can glance up and read it from time to time, smile at the prose, and think, “you know, I’m really damn good!”
  • Encouragement of any kind is the best medicine for any writer. Even if you’re just giving it to yourself.

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