Thursday, January 14, 2010


We were talking a little about structure in my critique group the last time we met and it got me thinking about it. So what better way to start the new year on my writing blog (well, announcement of a six figure advance on my new book comes to mind, but…), than to write about structure, which is always a stumbling point for writers, old and new. So here come a few posts on various aspects of structure.

Structure 1

Most people can’t outline a novel. I’m with most people. Still, we need structure. So what determines structure? There’s the screenwriting approach to structure, which a lot of writers use. That is some writers use various screenwriting techniques for talking about novel writing structure (there are many writing books out there that explore this). One of these techniques is thinking about what your protagonist wants/needs and what gets in the way of that want or need. Some of these antagonists might be external and some might be internal. For example, Mr. Freeze gets in Batman’s way of saving Gotham(external), but Batman’s own inner demons cause him to do something that allows Mr. Freeze to trap him(internal). A protagonist’s desire and antagonists will certainly help you understand the story you want your characters to live. They will help you direct your story as you write it, too. It’s a good place to start when you’re trying to determine ways to push your narrative forward that will inform structure as well as develop other aspects of the story. (to be continued)


Vonna said...

Thanks, Brian. I always enjoy posts on structure. Janice Hardy (Shifter) has had a great series of post this week, too.

Brian Yansky said...

Thanks, Vonna. I'll check out Janice Hardy's post.

Paul Greci said...

Thanks, Brian. I'm about to start a rewrite and am looking closely at the structure of my novel, sort of outlining it after the fact and trying to see where it sags and if the events are in the best possible order to tell the best possible story.

Brian Yansky said...

Thanks, Paul. I think outlining helps you sort of see what you've got, especially the one or two sentences summing up each chapter. Good luck.