Monday, 10 November 2014

Structuring Your Novel, by KM Weiland


By Catherine Hudson

They say there are two basic types of writers: Pantzers and Plotters. 

I am, unashamedly, a Pantzer—one who would love to have the wonderful structure that seems to be available to Plotters. Structuring your Novel by K.M Weiland, has helped me begin to find that structure, without losing my natural fly-by-the-seat-of-my-pants style. To put it in plain English, as far as writing craft books go, this is one I love.

Perhaps it was an advantage that I had a finished manuscript to mentally compare to as I read this gem, but I think anyone would benefit from the advice laid out by Ms Weiland, in particular, new writers wanting to get a handle on the basics of structure.
After clearly telling us why we need structure (something I will not attempt to debate here, that’s a whole other blog post), she lays out structure from the hook to the resolution, before adding further chapters on scene and sequel.

The simple layout, using examples from literature and film, demonstrates exactly what is being taught. I have to admit, this is the book that made me finally understand the concept of a hook. I found myself Googling famous hooks and scribbling down various attempts for my own book. (No, I have not settled on one yet, but I’ll let you know when I do!)

Another useful element is the use of approximate percentages where a writer should place such things as inciting incidents, and character reflection, within their work. This was useful as I could go to my highly-edited, nipped and tucked WIP, and see if my inciting incidences now occurred at the right points to register subconsciously for the reader. Readers expect these moments and even though they may not be able to express this in writing terms, it will register when the structural pillars are missing from a novel.

Structuring your novel clearly teaches how to implement what is needed to produce a well-structured novel that holds up your story, rather than bringing it down.
Highly recommended.

7 comments:

  1. Good review, Catherine. I'm a big fan of Katie's writing craft instruction which I get mostly from her email newsletter/blog. This is one of those craft books I've read bits and pieces of but not finished. I do that to many of them for some reason.

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  2. I downloaded this book a few weeks ago and I have to agree with your recommendation, Cat. Great review for a great book :)

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  3. Me and Blogger aren't friends today - this is the third time I've tried to comment (so apologies if all three post at once!.

    Structuring Your Novel is one of my favourite books on writing, and one I've recommended to many people. It's easy to read, and the structure is adaptable to whatever level of planning you are comfortable. with. Good review, Catherine!

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    1. I'm having trouble with Blogger too. This is my fourth try.
      There is now a workbook to go with Structuring Your Novel -- just released last week.

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  4. Thanks Catherine for the review. I'm a fan of Katie's blog and have dipped into this book. As you say, she explains things clearly and gives plenty of examples. Well worth reading.

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  5. Cat, thanks for sharing your thoughts. This book is in my tbr pile and I'm looking forward to reading it :)

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  6. There is also a workbook to go with it now. Just released last week!

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