A Novel in 3 months (week 4) – my basic structure

Last thing watched: Brothers & Sisters
Playing on the iPod now: RWAmerica’s National conference

So, by this stage we’ve been working on characters and plot, and have sketched out a basic storyline.  So now it’s time to share my progress so far (I’m going to be deliberately vague, on account of the story being a wip :grin:)

  • Intro Emily and Zac – GM (off screen kiss).  Emily’s internal conflict #1
  • intro Zac’s external conflict #1
  • intro Emily’s external conflict #1 (antagonist/villain of sorts)
  • Zac solves Emily’s problem, thereby intro’ing Emily’s internal conflict #2
  • journey to Sydney to confront Zac’s external conflict
  • Zac thinks he’s solved external conflict
  • share dinner and talk about past – tension
  • Zac proposes mistress arrangement – cue Emily’s internal conflict #2
  • Emily alone in room – introspection/call to sister?
  • Emily says yes, first kiss
  • work – some tension beneath cool exterior
  • Zac’s conflict #1 crops up again, has to deal with it
  • work and more tension – nearly discovered by co-worker
  • love scene
  • conflict re: Zac’s ex
  • more conflict – red herring
  • Emily and villain
  • Zac comes to the rescue
  • love scene – Zac talks about past, Emily still reluctant
  • Zac POV – brother’s wedding – conflict with father
  • black moment – Zac walks out
  • Emily reveals past
  • HEA

I expect the whole book to flesh out at around 230p (Desire requirements).  As you can see, I make sure I list scenes of conflict, introspection,  plot and the growing romance.   Turning points are important scenes that I list, too.

What are turning points?  They are simply scenes or moments that takes the story on a different turn.  It could be something the character does  or something is done to them, which forces action.  For e.g.  in Raiders of the Lost Ark (the movie currently on repeat in the DVD player!) one of Indiana Jones’ first turning points is when the government officials tell him the Nazis are close to finding the Ark.   He consciously makes a decision to go after it himself to save it from enemy hands.  This sets him on his journey (and after 28 years, this story is still as exciting and riveting as it was in the cinema 😀  Not to mention a perfect example of  the Hero’s Journey).  Actually, Jenny Crusie puts it better than anyone, ever – coz she’s brilliant.  Read about it from her conference workshop here.

Want another example?  Take take this off-the-top-of-my-head scenario: the heroine of your story is married, two kids, loving husband.  She may be vaguely unsatisfied with her lot in life, she may be completely involved in her job, or she may have a sneaking suspicion that something’s not right with her husband (is he cheating?)… whatever.  Then one day she discovers a bag full of money in the back of their closet.

What does she do?  Does she confront hubby about it?  Turn him into the cops?  Go snooping for information?  Take out a bundle of bills and pay off the credit cards?  Skip town for the Bahamas with her boy toy?  Or shove it back and say nothing?  The choice she makes is your turning point.  Even if she does nothing, she’s still making a conscious  decision to do something (which is nothing :grin:)

So she runs off to the Bahamas with her much-younger lover.  They’re having a great time, gambling and partying.  Until she spots her husband in the crowd.  What does she do?  TURNING POINT!!   See?  Wherever the story takes a different twist or turn, thereby upping the tension and/or stakes, that’s your turning point.  And to engage the reader, there must be (amongst other things) a series of turning points.  Otherwise there would be no story.  (BTW is it me or does this fictional wife-on-the-lam story sound intriguing? :lol:)


3 comments on “A Novel in 3 months (week 4) – my basic structure

  1. This is great Paula,

    I’m trying something new with my writing doing this exercise. The plotting thing isn’t working for me, well not a detailed plot, so what I’m doing is each day I mini plot, I write down what I want to happen for that day, then start writing. So far it is working. The characters have not run a mile yet and it is giving me something to work, something solid to write.

    With each example you post, I go back over what I’ve written and make notes if anything needs to be changed. I’m really enjoying this.


  2. that’s a good idea, Sandie! Are you working in scenes? or just going with something like “okay, my h/h need to have some conflict come up here… ready…. go!”

  3. Paula, It looks so easy when you list it like that. And I agree, the wife story, very intriguing. Ciao Roseanne

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