NaNoWriMo Prep Week 3: Plot & Structure

Posted October 18, 2011 by twoamwriter 2 Comments

We’ve talked about character; now let’s talk plot and structure.

It’s hard to talk about outlining without overlapping into structure, so some of the links are a repeat.  Again, how much planning for plot and structure you do ahead of time will depend on your personal preference.

Outliners like me will feel better about having at least an overview of each chapter or scene before writing.  Pantsers may not.  However, even if you’re a pantser, you should give thought to your novel’s structure now.

By structure, I mean the timing of your big scenes…your major plot points…your badnesses…your disasters…whatever you want to call them.  As opposed to plot, which is the series of events that happens in your novel.

There are different ways to approach the plot and structure.  There’s the traditional Hero’s Journey.  Not writing an epic fantasy?  Here’s an example of using the Hero’s Journey to plot a romance.  And another.

Plot and Structure by James Scott Bell is a great book and makes use of “a disturbance and two doorways” to structure a novel.

The book Story Engineering by Larry Brooks and the accompanying blog Storyfix is an in-depth study at structuring fiction (as well as other topics such as characters).  There’s a series of blog posts about structure as well as daily tips for Nano’ing being posted all through October.

The Marshall Plan uses three “surprises” and two scene types, active and reactive, to structure a novel.  There’s also a companion workbook.

This blog post at the Warrior Writers blog is the first in a series about structure. Look for new entries every Monday. (here’s Part 2.)

Plot vs Character by Jeff Gerke builds a plot based on the character’s inner journey.

Nano starts in just two weeks.  There’s still lots to think about if you haven’t already, such as Story World and Theme.  I won’t be writing about them, but the Storyfix blog covers both, as well as many books and websites, in case you need help.  Unless you have a very complex Story World such as for a fantasy or science fiction novel, it’s easier to start writing your novel without having the details of these topics in place as opposed to characters and structure.  Many times, authors don’t know the theme of their books until they’ve finished the first draft. Or more.

Review all our NaNoWriMo 2011 posts here.

For the comments: Have you given any thought to the structure of your novel? How about the details of the plot? Did you learn anything from the above books or blogs?


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2 responses to “NaNoWriMo Prep Week 3: Plot & Structure

  1. Spent the last week in Disney and got NOTHING done as far as planning for NaNo. I feel so unprepared and NaNo starts in a week! eek! I may be cheering you all on from the sidelines instead of on the field. 🙁

    (for the record, yes I’d rather have spent the week in Disney than win NaNo, so no regrets 🙂 )

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