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What Those Strange Pinch Points Are All About

You may have heard of pinch points. Or not. I’m going to take a look at these key markers in a novel because I’m working up to introduce you to my 10-20-30 Scene Builder concept I’ve been putting together.

Because constructing a solid novel is daunting and difficult, having a kind of road map that shows the way makes the difference between arriving at your destination and ending up stuck in a bog in the middle of nowhere.

I see way too many manuscripts with noses sticking up from the muck and no handy tow truck nearby to pull them out. Sometimes it’s better to let them sink down to oblivion.

How much better to follow that road map!

Ever Resisting Structure

Last week we looked at the midpoint. That’s a fairly easy concept to nail, right? On a map, it would be, well, the midpoint. The very middle of journey from A to Z.

But what the heck are pinch points? Do you need them? Where do they go in a novel and what’s their purpose? Continue Reading…

Ways Novelists Can Break from the Structural Rules

We’ve been looking at the downside to the three-act structure these last two weeks, and I’ve shared my thoughts on this.

Really, stories are basically a beginning, a middle, and an ending, and some writing instructors base their passion for the three-act structure on this. Meaning, since stories have a beginning, middle, and end, that must imply there are three acts.

You can use Aristotle’s concept and translate your idea into three acts: What is the first act? How the story begins. What is the second act? The middle of the story (which includes the main crisis of the dominant plot). The third act is the climax of the story and the resolution. Okay, it’s simplistic, but that’s how many justify the use of the three-act structure.

Doesn’t make sense to me. Continue Reading…

How to Break Up Your Novel into Definable Sections

Last week I started diving into the three-act structure and explained that such structure is random and arbitrary. While many writing instructors swear by this structure, I feel it’s too pat and restrictive to be a “one size fits all,” and, really, it’s the story that should determine how many acts it needs. And even with that, it’s up to the writer to decide if he wants to break his story up into acts or sections.

This isn’t just about “breaking up” a story or creating actual parts to a novel. While I’m going to share more examples of this, be aware that fashioning your story into sections is extremely helpful, and it’s something you can do without labeling them as such for your readers.

Sometimes, after I’ve put all my scene ideas on index cards (as many as I can think of for my novel I’m about to write), I’ll lay them all out on my dining table. Usually I have between thirty and fifty scene ideas before I start writing my general outline. Continue Reading…

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