Novels as fireworks – Structuring my story

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It’s always nice to spruce up a blog post with some pictures. Unlike novels, where you have plenty of space for ‘showing’ through words. So above is a shot I took on New Year’s Eve in Melbourne, Australia. A picture of fireworks may not have a lot to do with the topic of story structuring, but read on — I do have a go, as you’ll see — five pics, no less, interpreted as novel structures. And, what-hey, it’s the new year. Fireworks time! Happy New Year.

I’ve been busy structuring a plot outline. That’s a new approach to writing a novel for me. For my first three — EleMental, MonuMental and Beneath the Surface — I began with an idea, some notions around that idea, and then wrote away, seeing where the idea would take me. Roughly 90,000 words later, I’d stop, revise, edit and restructure until I felt I had a completed story in novel form.

This time around, I’m attempting beforehand to lay out as much of the plot as I can, scene by scene, from the novel’s start to its climactic finish and resolution. There’s a risk in this, I know. This kind of intense pre-planning could lead to a predictability. Something I most certainly want to avoid.

When writing ‘organically’ (or to put it more technically, making it up as I go), I’ve less idea where the story is heading. While I may have to cut a fair few things later, it’s a great way to keep the plot twisting and turning in the most unexpected ways.

On the upside, laying the plot out in detail before I begin to write should give me strong, clean lines in the plot. There’s likely to be less risk of confusing the reader. Also, I feel I’ll be able to concentrate on character development. That’s my big hope. In the past, I have striven for balance of plot and character. This time, I want to lay the plot’s tracks down, and then really push the character development as I write. Here’s hoping it works out that way.

I’m keen to get the first draft completed by the end of February. That’s two months of writing. The plot structuring took me a lot longer than I expected — a few weeks instead of a few days. So, given that, heaven knows if I can meet this new goal.

I kicked off this post with a pic of some fireworks, and, for a bit of fun, I’ll close with a few more. (All pics taken with my humble phone camera on New Year’s Eve, 2015.)

So here we go, meeting my promise: five novel plot structures as fireworks (‘novels as fireworks’, I like that notion)…
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Above: a highly colourful, scattergun approach to laying down a story, with some pretty unexpected stuff happening towards the end…

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Above: a single point of view, character-driven story, underpinned with an emphasis on an interesting setting.

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Above: a collection of connected short stories woven into one overall plot through a theme of reaching out for unknown things: other worlds, other times, other people. (Phew.)

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Above: an explosive romance with multiple points of view —  two powerful characters inevitably drawn together, but to what end?

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Above: now this is the kind of story I strive for. A strong theme at its heart, a veritable shower of exciting situations, and some extra-big challenges towards the end (in this case, four) — will they survive!

8 thoughts on “Novels as fireworks – Structuring my story

  1. Your flashes of fire works remind me of Tony Buzan’s excellent Mind Map Book, radiant thinking as a way to overcome horrors of blank page.

  2. Your images reflect the deep recesses of the writer’s ‘tormented’ mind, for me anyway. The flashes mirror the first stage of my writing, pencilling ideas in my note book, a tree diagram, an explosion of ideas to form a coherent story (or at least an outline), a lens for the reader to see the world from another angle. But first, as cool hazy rain is falling, weeds need to be uprooted at the side of house, while your flashes continue to haunt Prometheus with mischievous ideas.

  3. Inspiring flashes, Steven. They prompt me to think thus: a chain of ideas/memories of our pasts spiralling out of control deep within the dark forests of our minds. We writers struggle to put them into words, sentences, paragraphs, pages, books to make sense of the mystery of our lives.

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