Recently, K.M. Weiland’s Structuring Your Novel became available as an audiobook, and I couldn’t wait to get my digital hands on it.
I’m sure you all are familiar with her award-winning work over at Helping Writers Become Authors, where she expertly analyzes character arcs and story structure.
Disclosure: I received a free copy of the audiobook in exchange for my honest review. But, instead of reviewing it in the traditional sense, I decided to create a couple of infographics. (info-doodles?)
In the book, I loved her analogy that story structure is like a box that holds a gift. Even if the package is the same, the gift inside can be anything!
My favorite chapters were the ones where she analyzed the structure of the scene itself. I had never thought to look at structure on such a micro-level, and it was fascinating.
Below, I’ve created an infographic to illustrate what I learned about scene structure from Structuring Your Novel.
Pretty cool concept, right?
As K.M. Weiland explains, each “overall scene” includes a scene and a sequel. The scene begins with a goal, which is frustrated by conflict, and results in a disaster. The sequel starts with a reaction to the disaster, followed by a dilemma and then a decision. In the book, she goes into an amazing level of detail about different options for each of these elements.
After the decision at the end of the sequel, the hero is led to a new goal, and the process starts all over again. Each “overall scene” is a domino leading up to the climax. It’s a beautiful cycle.
Now, let’s look at how a scene from Harry Potter & The Sorcerer’s Stone by J.K. Rowling fits into K.M. Weiland’s structure. I analyzed the scene from Chapter 14, “Norbert the Norwegian Ridgeback.”
This is only one scene, but it leads seamlessly into Harry Potter’s goal in the next scene, where he must survive detention in the Forbidden Forest. (The detention was awarded because of his antics with the dragon).
I really feel that Structuring Your Novel is a great read that I will listen to again and again. I even enjoyed the narrator– her voice was soothing and I felt like I was on a guided meditation through the material. Even if you don’t usually listen to audiobooks, this would be a great one for your commute or just on headphones while you take a walk. I hope you get a chance to check it out.
If you’re interested, K.M. Weiland and Writer’s Digest are hosting a live webinar tomorrow (Tuesday, April 28th) and it’s all about story structure. Registrants even have the opportunity to submit a story synopsis for critique.
What do you think about this scene structure? Will you use it in your novel?