How to write a novel – Part 3
So we now have a short summary of our story along with details of all of the major characters. What now?
Well, the next tool we can use to expand our summary is Dan Wells’s 7 point story structure. Dan Wells himself has a great series of videos on the structure, which I highly recommend. You can view them on YouTube here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KcmiqQ9NpPE
Essentially, 7 point story structure is a way of breaking down the story into different sections:
– Plot turn 1
– Plot turn 2
To do this, take a spreadsheet and leaving the first column empty, write the names of each of your major characters across the top. Add another column labelled story and another labelled world. Then, leaving the first row empty, write the 7 points above in the first column of each row.
Start with the end of your story for each character. What state does each person or thing end up in by the end of your novel? For example, your hero, if they win would end being triumphant. Your antagonist, if they lose, will end being defeated.
Next, go to the beginning of your story. In order to have a satisfactory arc, you could set the start of each person’s journey at the polar opposite of how they end up. The hero starts from humble beginnings, the antagonist from being master of his domain.
Next comes the midpoint, what makes the hero/antagonist decide to fight?
Now you write the first plot turn, the point at which things begin to move for the character/story/world. The pinch is where something goes wrong for the character shortly after they begin to get involved.
Finally you write the second pinch, where all seems lost for the hero or victorious for the antagonist. This is followed by the second plot turn, which reveals how the hero will win.
After writing the seven points for each character, for the world and for the story, we have a pretty big spreadsheet of events. Now create a new spreadsheet and put all of these events in order. Each event should happen in sequence in this spreadsheet, giving you a good idea of how each character develops through your novel.
Now it’s time to create a chapter structure. You have a list of events, so break them into chapters. If things happen at the same time or close to the same time, write them under a chapter heading. Each chapter heading should have a line or two under it, giving you an idea of what happens in that chapter.
Since we now have some structure to our book, we can go back to the snowflake technique to expand this chapter list. Take each sentence and expand it into a paragraph. This will give you a summary of all the events in every chapter of your book.
In part 4 we’ll discuss how to give your chapter list more life.
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