Craft, Novel, Writing

How is it Friday already?

Time passes quickly when you have a migraine—not. I missed out on half of Wednesday and Thursday, so it doesn’t seem like this should be the end of the week. I wrote exactly one paragraph on Wednesday, but I managed over a thousand words yesterday. I’m trying for the record on slowest written first draft ever.

structureBy word count, I’ve worked past the midpoint now, so that’s something. Actually, I’m about to go back and pick up a dropped thread and weave it through to the midpoint, so when I do that, I think I’ll be adding at least two thousand words more.

Structure is not my strong point, so I’m not always sure where I am storywise. All my attempts at rigidly pre-structuring fail. I have to write the story as it comes to me and shape it up later. Sort of like moving all your stuff in the new house and then deciding where things fit best. I have to actually see the furniture in place before I know what arrangement works.

But I do have guidelines on novel structure, which I consider from time to time as I write. One is a six-point “frame” from Anne Greenwood Brown at Writer Unboxed. Another is Nigel Watt’s 8-point Story Arc shared by Ali Hale at Daily Writing Tips.

These structure guides will come more into play during editing, but even then, I’ll probably modify them to best fit my story. They are only guides, after all.

Your turn: Do you have a favorite novel structure guide?

10 thoughts on “How is it Friday already?”

  1. I also have to write the story as it comes and shape it in the second draft. I love being surprised, and I’m afraid if I outline, I won’t be. However, I read that John Updike always has an end in view and he writes to that. Since A Prayer for Owen Meany has one of the most brilliant endings I’ve ever read, I’ve taken his words to heart. (Although not necessarily all his books have such supremely satisfying endings, so maybe he just hit a home run on that one.) I’m trying to write to a definite ending in a novella I just started, so we’ll see.

    I’ve usually used the 3-act structure, but haven’t been able to do much with the “hero’s journey” structure since I usually write from multiple viewpoints. I just stumbled across a book, The 9-day Novel, that is the first book I’ve ever read (and I have read a LOT of books on fiction writing!) to tie that journey to multiple POV characters. It’s working very well on my latest novel, but still, post-first draft. 😉

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    1. Cathryn, I can’t find that “9-day” writing book online or in my library. Who’s the author?

      I have A Prayer for Owen Meany on my shelves, but I haven’t read it. I tried to outline this book, so I did have the ending in mind before I started writing, in fact, I’ve had the last few lines written for months, but I’ve already had some surprises in the way certain story elements have changed from my original plan. I like the excitement of the story being “alive”.

      Good luck on your latest work. 🙂

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      1. LOL. Wouldn’t that be something, writing a novel in 9 days. Yikes. NINETY day (for a first draft) — deadly typos. It’s by Alan Watt.

        I also like the excitement of it being alive, although the 90-day book has made me see that is still a possibility with doing more character development before writing. Not outlining per se.

        That’s great that you are writing to an ending that’s already done. I’ll be interested to hear how it goes.

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        1. LOL—well, I’d already counted me out on writing a novel in 9 days. I’m pretty sure I couldn’t do it in 90 either, but I’d like to check out the book anyway.

          Maybe we’re using terms differently. Or maybe we really do write in completely different ways. Because I live with a story in my head for months, I’ve worked out a lot of it before I start to write. Are you saying that when you start a book, you have no concept of the full story?

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          1. oh, I guess we do write differently. I have no concept of the full story when I start. I usually have a cast of characters (fairly vague), and a list of potential scenes. But I spend a LOT of time re-writing, and I’d like to spend a little less on that because I get really bogged down.

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          2. I can’t imagine how writing your way, Cathryn. I expect I do much less rewriting than you do, BUT you end up with a finished book much faster than I do. Now, I’m wondering what would happen if I tried it your way. 😉

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  2. Such an interesting process isn’t it? Each writer just goes at the task in creative hope and gets caught up in the spinning of the tale. The Greenwood article is along the lines of what my writing coach has suggested for playwrighting. All the comments on the Greenwood blog were helpful as well. Your readers also share helpful insights. I find it most helpful to find my tribe of fellow writers …out there…and absorb all they have to share.

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