I'm author ELLE STRAUSS and welcome to my website!
I write fun, lower Young Adult (teen) fiction to do with whimsical things like time-travel, fairies and merfolk.
When my serious side peeks out, she's called LEE STRAUSS. She likes to write upper YA about real things that have happened in the past, or made up things that could quite possibly happen in the future.
This blog is about books, mine and other fab authors', but occasionally I'll share about other topics.
Thanks for dropping by!
Monday, April 19, 2010
My Experiment with Structure
In a nut shell her structure for writing a novel looks like this:
60k finished novel
There are three acts:
Opening - Chapter One
Act One End - Chapter Four
Mid-Point Reversal - Chapter Twelve
Act Two End - Chapter Sixteen
Act Three End - Chapter Nineteen
Climax Starts - Chapter Twenty
Opening - Intro of protag getting into trouble
Act One End - First major problem that throws a wrench into protag's plans and forces them to act outside of their comfort zone.
Mid-Point Reversal - Unexpected event that sends the entire story sideways.
Act Two End - Protag's actions have led them to a point where they can't back down, but they'll need to sacrifice something to continue.
Act Three End - Protag has acted in ways to bring them in direct conflict with the antag, it's do or die, all or nothing time.
Climax Starts - Showdown with the antag.
So my personal challenge is to write a 2500 chapter a day, following Janice’s structure plan. I started the first day of April writing an outline, plugging in the main ideas into her structure plan including a mid-point reversal (which I'd never thought of before, but what a great idea!), and wrote the first chapter. I had to leave it for a week until after Easter and taxes, starting up again April 9th. Since then I have made an effort to write a chapter a day, but there have been a few days I couldn’t fit writing in.
I just finished chapter nine today. I’m sitting at 20170 words, which puts me at an average of 2241 words per chapter, 259 words short of the 2500 goal. I’m not worried, though, I’m a slim writer and always have to add detail in the second pass, so I know I can pick up words if I’m short. Besides, it’s just a guideline, not a rule.
Chapter twelve, the mid-point reversal, seemed really far away when I was working on earlier chapters and I was tempted to move the mid point up to chapter ten. I’m glad I didn’t. It’s forced me to think through a proper build up.
Why am I doing this? I’ve never wrote with a real plan before. I’ve always had a general idea of what I wanted to do but mostly I just write stuff and hope it will all fit together somehow in the end. Sometimes it does and sometimes it doesn’t, but it always takes a really long time to make it work.
This new wip idea didn’t jump around through time and space like my other works do. It’s linear and takes place within a month timeframe. And I’m impatient. I want it done. Plugging the pieces into a preplanned structure with a daily goal gives me the possibility of a having a new first draft done within a few weeks instead of a few months (or years). I’m hoping to be done by Mother’s day.
Is it that easy? NO. It’s hard. Some chapters just don’t write themselves like others do. I find I’ve developed a form of ADD. I call it WADD—writers attention deficit disorder. I write a little bit, then jump out of my chair to do something else, like a phone call. Write a bit more, check twitter. Write a bit more, have a shower. Write a bit more, do the dishes. Write a bit more, have a coffee. I really have to push myself to finish, which is why I’m glad I have a goal. It would be really easy just to brush it off, or stop after one scene instead of completing the chapter.
Any questions? Be sure to check out Janice Hardy’s blog. She writes excellent how to posts. I think she should turn them into a book one day!