Tag Archive - Concept with a Kicker

Kicking High Concept into High Gear

We’ve been exploring the first key pillar of novel construction—concept with a kicker. Last week I explained that a novel has to have an overarching concept with a unique, compelling kicker. But this is not to be confused with a plot twist or surprise, which is a kicker in its own right. But not the kind of kicker I’m talking about. A novel or movie has to stand on a strong pillar of concept all the way through. It can’t depend on one high moment in the story—regardless of placement in the plot—to support the “structure.”

If you’ve read the previous posts, I hope you are now getting a bit clearer about this concept of concept. Let’s take this a step further. Continue Reading…

Coming Up with a Kicker of a Concept

We’re taking a close look in these first posts on novel construction at the four main corner pillars. To recap briefly, I’m introducing twelve key pillars writers must construct to build a great novel in any genre. The corner pillars are not only the most important, they must work together, and my experience has shown me that if I work on all four of these pillars at one time, fleshing them in bit by bit until they are solid, I can be satisfied that the framework of my “house” will hold up.

After those four are in place, the other eight can be developed and fashioned to fit into the framework. Just as when building a house, tasks need to be done in order. You can’t put on the roof or wire the house if you haven’t put up walls. And walls can’t go up without appropriate framework. Continue Reading…

An Idea Does Not a Novel Make

We’re now starting to delve into the first pillar of novel construction—concept with a kicker. I introduced the 12 key pillars we’re going to look at this year, and emphasized that there are four essential corner pillars that provide the key support of your novel. Without them, the entire project will collapse. These four pillars interconnect, and, in a sense, support and work off one another, so although you can work on them in any order, think of them as a set that have to be evenly and perfectly placed in your structure in order to do the work of supporting your story.

Before I get further into this first pillar, I want to address those of you who have a bit of resistance to this whole concept of structure rules. In an earlier post I compared building a novel with building a house, and spoke of how a contractor must follow the engineered blueprints provided to ensure the house he or she builds will be sturdy and will hold up to the elements. A novelist needs to do similarly. Continue Reading…

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