Tag Archive - Four Corner Pillars of Novel Construction

Creating Conflict with a Purpose

Conflict. No one likes conflict. Except, of course, readers of fiction. And, one hopes, writers of said fiction. Why do I say “one hopes”? Because I’m surprised by how many manuscripts I edit and critique that have very little to no conflict in the story. And conflict is crucial.

I might even be so bold as to say that if you don’t have a strong element of conflict inherent in your story, you don’t have a story worth reading (or writing). And this is why conflict is one of the four essential corner pillars in constructing a novel. Continue Reading…

The Sensitive, Passionate Character

We’ve been taking a look at the second key “corner pillar” in this course on the 12 key pillars of novel construction, which is all about the protagonist and her goal for the book. I mentioned in recent posts how important it is for the protagonist to have a goal and how obvious and simple that might seem, yet few novels I critique include this necessary element—which I will say is crucial.

It’s very common for the protagonist to start off with one goal, only to quickly (meaning, yes, fairly early into your story) be pushed in another direction altogether, creating a “new” goal—which then becomes the “real” goal for the book. Without going into this twist in depth, you can read all about it in this post I wrote a while back. But for now, just be aware that, tied in with your concept and themes, there should be an overarching or main goal your character is trying to reach. Continue Reading…

Resonating with Both Classic Heroes and Dark Protagonists

We’ve been exploring the first four key pillars of novel construction—the primary supports for any novel. We’re going to look at twelve in the course of this year, but a good chunk of time is being spent on the critical corner pillars. I’ve mentioned that although you can work on these four pillars separately, invariably they rely on each other to create a solid foundation for your story. These pillars are concept with a kicker, protagonist with a goal, conflict with high stakes, and theme with a heart.

We’ve covered concept with a kicker in numerous posts (start with this one, if you missed any), and have been delving into protagonist with a goal in the latest posts. Needless to say, we could spend a year on how to develop a great protagonist for a novel, but since we have ten other pillars to cover in this online course for the year, we’ll just focus on the basics. Continue Reading…

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