I am a planner, down to my core, and no more so then when planning my novel. I have been toying with trying to understand how much planning is too much, and it’s always a difficulty, particularly for someone who really does love all things planned, structured and organised!
I had been having issues understanding exactly how to structure my novel, how to ensure that it was structured correctly, whether the structure I was creating was even a ‘story structure’ you know – one of the ones you find in an actual book – a published one!
Anyway in amidst my writing strife, I recently discovered the seven-point plot structure, and a lecture by Dan Wells, a pretty successful writer, who has written and published several successful novels.
He talks through the seven-point plot structure in detail with examples of famous stories to make it ’real’. The summary is:
Hook – (HERE 2nd ) If you know your ending – your start is generally the opposite stance – if you end with someone in prison – then they need to start free.
Plot Turn 1 (HERE 4th) introduce conflict here, it’s the point that moves you from the hook to the midpoint
Pinch 1 (HERE 6th) Apply pressure, force the characters into action (often introduces the villain.
Midpoint (HERE 3rd ) this is the exact point in the story where your characters move from reaction, to action. Note it doesn’t have to be physically in the middle of the book.
Pinch 2 (HERE LAST) apply even more pressure – make the situation seem hopeless.
Plot Turn 2 (HERE 5th ) This moves you from midpoint to ending, its where you obtain the final piece of the puzzle in order to get to the end.
Resolution (START HERE) Everything leads to this point – make sure you know what your ending is.
To watch the whole lecture (which I strongly advocate) visit youtube here.
The reason I love this so much, is because it was simple, clear, and only 7 sentences, it gave me such a clear understanding of my story arc, that my head felt clear and able to pad out the subplots, character sheets and all the other faff that comes with planning a novel. Its clear and simple, and forces you to go back to basics – if you can’t write your story into this structure then there’s probably something fundamentally wrong with your novel.
Hope it helps – let me know what you think of it.