A Life Of Fiction LXII

For those of you new to this WordPress site, this site is about me and my writing – and a little about my role-playing, as well. It gives readers a chance to sample my work before purchasing it on the Kindle store; and gives me the chance to say a little about the genesis of each novel, or about the process of writing in general.


Structuring novels: I think that, in the absence of any other ideas (I have not finished any new novel for some time) that I will chat about the structure of novels, both of myself and other authors.

To begin with, I will give the caveat that I do not believe that there is any one perfect structure. I am not going to dictate that a novel should be A, B and then C. Different sorts of novels may require different structures to them to be effective. So take this article as a guideline, rather than some hard rules which you must obey. Rules are only there to be broken, anyway.


The Hollywood approach: A lot of films effectively have three parts to them There is the beginning, where the hero and the problem are introduced. Then there is the second section, where the hero suffers all manner of reversals, where he may end up doubting that he may triumph. Then there is the last part, where the hero overcomes all of the problems which may have been pit in his path. There are countless films produced like this. Some of them are good. Some of them are bad.

There is nothing wrong with structuring a novel like this, especially if it is some grand adventure. I have used this, or a similar formula, in a lot of my books. Heroes becoming successful in the final ‘reel’ of my books can be found in such works as The Madman Of The Air, He Sees His World In Red, and others (without giving too much away about the plot of those books).


The Ouroboros: This is where the novel comes full circle, or where it ends in a similar fashion to the way in which it started. At least with this sort of structure you will have a good idea of how the novel will end; it is the middle section which you will really have to plan out, taking it from the beginning and back to the beginning (ending).

I suppose that my novel Memories has this structure, and there are elements of it in my book The Dead.


The Long and Winding Road: This structure is not really associated with heroic fiction. It has the main protagonist slowly work his way through a long series of sequential events, and is best suited to the sort of books where a person is telling the biography of a character. One event follows another, as in real life. There can be an underlying plot, but there does not have to be. This is, perhaps, the simplest of structures for a novel, with one chapter following the next. Such books tend to be longer than the average.

Novels which I have written using such a structure include Go Back To Start and Shiloh.


The Collage: In this structure you build up the sense of a novel through disparate elements inserted into the novel. This is one of the most fragmentary approaches. It could be a collection of letters; it could be different events featuring different characters; it is anything where you have a conglomeration of different elements coming together, hopefully to become more than a sum of their parts.

The advantage with this approach is that you can easily work on different aspects of the novel at the same time, and simply insert them into the correct section of the novel when they are completed.

Novels which I have created using this approach to structure include The Dead. in that book I tried to tell the story of a haunted house through poetry, chapters set in different time periods, and fragments featuring different characters, hoping that at the end it would come together into a single piece.


A Final Word: Of course, you do not have to stick to a single structure for your work. You could combine one structure partially with another. Do whatever works.

The above are only my ideas of novel structures, anyway. You may find more. Or you might simply stick with C following B following A.

Whatever, that’s enough for this post, although I may return to this theme at some stage in the dim and distant future.


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