Book Video for Structuring Your Novel: Essential Keys for Writing an Outstanding Story

How Story Structure Changed My Life

One thing I always stress to writers is the importance of writing subjects you’re passionate about. Most of the time this advice is aimed at novelists, but it’s every bit as true when it comes to non-fiction. As we approach the September 1st release date for my non-fiction book Structuring Your Novel: Essential Keys for Writing an Outstanding Story, I’d like to share a bit about my own journey with story structure. In lieu of the standard book trailer, I put together a fun little video that talks about how I discovered story structure and how it changed everything about my approach to writing.

Video transcript:

Hi, my name is K.M. Weiland, and I am a historical and speculative novelist, and a mentor to other novelists. I am an analytical, left-brained, very structured, scheduled person, so, as a writer myself, you’d think I would have taken to this whole structure thing like a cat chasing a mouse. But I actually didn’t. I was really resistant to the idea in the beginning.Writing is supposed to be this airy-fairy, instinctive feeling that just flows out of you. You mess with that, and, pfft, forget artistic genius So, like so many other writers, here I am struggling along, pounding out my brains against my keyboard, writing these stories that almost work, but that just aren’t quite there.

In the past, I’ve compared writing to digging myself out of a hole. I don’t know what’s in that hole. I don’t know what the next shovelful looks like. But I just have to keep digging until I hopefully reach the bottom. In other words, most of us are going into our stories totally blind.

We know there’s this checklist of “story must-haves” we have to include in our story to make it work.

Strong hook in the beginning, characters with pronounced arcs, this balance of action and reflection, and then this rising suspense, until suddenly you reach the end where everything is just supposed to fall into place.

But I think we’ve all written at least one story that didn’t work out quite that way. And it’s frustrating, because you know about all these story elements, and you’re checking them off your list. But they’re just not hanging together the way they’re supposed to.

That’s where structure comes into play.

The first time I heard structure explained to me, point by point, it was like a light bulb going off in my head. I mean I was ready to get up and jump on the bed and turn somersaults and kiss the cat, and all that stuff. It was revolutionary. And the thing about story structure—the beauty of it—is that, once you understand it, it is so simple.

The way I approach and teach structure is with a ten-step checklist. Starting with the hook and ending with the resolution. Once you can visualize your story as these very specific building blocks, you’re suddenly able to understand what makes stories work. You’re not blind anymore. You’re able to approach your story from a place of knowledge, which is always going to be a place of empowerment.

I mean, even years after this was a discovery for me, I still get so excited about structure. I sit down every day at my computer, and I am thrilled with this power that I wield. I get to be the master of my story, instead of its slave.

I’m really excited to be able to share this discovery and this ten-step approach to classic story structure through my new book Structuring Your Novel: Essential Keys for Writing an Outstanding Story.

My goal as a teacher and a mentor of writers is to help people find that knowledge and that empowerment, so they’ll be able to access the tools they need to write their own unique stories. And, truthfully, structure, more than any other tool, is the key to not only making our writing lives easier, but to unleashing the best stories we have in us.

How Story Structure Changed My Life

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About K.M. Weiland | @KMWeiland

K.M. Weiland lives in make-believe worlds, talks to imaginary friends, and survives primarily on chocolate truffles and espresso. She is the IPPY and NIEA Award-winning and internationally published author of the Amazon bestsellers Outlining Your Novel and Structuring Your Novel. She writes historical and speculative fiction from her home in western Nebraska and mentors authors on her award-winning website.

Comments

  1. From talking to other writers and reading about their experiences, I think structure is often one of those last big mountains a young writer has to climb before they finally start to “get it.” And the thing is, so many don’t even realize that it’s there or exactly what it is. I was certainly one of those, and it wasn’t until I really started thinking about structure that I wrote my first book that sold. It’s like oxygen. You have to have it, but you don’t usually think about it. Your books sounds great. I can’t wait to read it!

  2. The oxygen metaphor is great. Most of us *do* get it in an instinctive level, but our conscious brains, in their struggle to keep up, often then start getting in the way. It’s when we can harmonize our subconscious with our conscious that good things start happening.

  3. Can’t wait for this come to out! I’ve already been helped tremendously by your book on outlining. I went to grad school for creative writing and I think I’ve been more helped by your resources than I was by my professors and fellow students.

  4. Thanks KM,this is a great introduction to Story Structure.

  5. @Katie: So glad you enjoyed Outlining Your Novel. Makes my day to hear that! 🙂

    @Rich: Thanks, Rich! I hope the book proves useful to everyone who readers it.

  6. This comment has been removed by the author.

  7. I’m excited too. So when is it coming out and where is it or will it be available?
    When it goes up at Amazon and I become aware of that, I will read it and do a review there.
    Bill Polm

  8. Thanks, Bill! I appreciate that hugely. The book officially releases on September 1st and will be available on Amazon, B&N, Kobo, and, of course, my site.

  9. Katie, I need this now… Oh well, 1 September only 5 weeks away now…

  10. It’ll be here before we know it, believe me! 😀

  11. This sounds like something I could benefit from! I’ll have to remember to look for it on Amazon once it comes out. 🙂

  12. Stay tuned come the September 1st release date! Lots of fun drawings and prizes on their way.

  13. Ooh, sounds good!

  14. 🙂

  15. My take on structuring, for what it’s worth, is for us writers not to struggle with turning our ideas into a page-turning story, but to apply the structuring framework (as per your 10-step checklist)and flesh it out with the creative ideas of character, conflict and plot that originally propelled us into wanting to write the story: like fleshing out the framework of a house with its walls, windows and roof.

  16. I really like the house analogy. Structure is about making sure there’s a sturdy foundation. Once that’s finished, we get to move on to the creative fun of furnishing and decorating.

  17. Anonymous says:

    Thanks for teaching.

    Structure & outlining can set creativity free.

    Can’t wait.

  18. Yes, they do. At first glance, we might not think so, since “structure” and “freedom” aren’t exactly considered synonyms. But once we use structure to place a firm foundation under our feet, our creativity is free to stop wobbling around and just explore.

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  1. […] tome to pick up on these subjects is K.M. Weiland’s Story Structure (not yet available, but I’m special so I’ve read […]

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