How to Choose Your Story’s Structure

rolling up sleeves right.pngNow that I’ve agreed to value lessons more than successes, I’m rolling up my sleeves to make major revisions on my current work in progress. I participated in a Webinar last night titled “How to Choose Your Story’s Structure” (recommended by my writing coach).  The presentation opened up a whole new area of thought for me regarding “structure”.

Hopefully I’ll devote subsequent posts to topics covered in the Webinar, (you can email Beth Barany to ask if she’ll repeat this Webinar in the future) but I’m going to focus first on material Beth referenced from a book titled The Story Grid by Shawn Coyne.

recumbent bike left.jpgToday I watched the first of five (free) YouTube videos regarding Coyne’s Story Grid. They were easy to watch while I huffed away on my exercise bike for eight minutes. (No judging here – I’m slowly building up my stamina!). The material filled in knowledge gaps that I realize will make my WIP stronger. I just ordered Coyne’s book and will read that in conjunction with watching the videos.

One of Coyne’s major points that hit me over the head is the idea of creating “obligatory scenes”. This concept proposes that different genre readers have specific scenes they look for when reading a particular genre. If these scene types are not included, the reader will feel disappointed and probably not read more of your work (or may put the book down before finishing}! I never heard the idea  of “obligatory scenes” before. I asked Beth during the Webinar if Coyne covered obligatory scenes for historical fiction, and she did not think so since historical fiction can include either romance, adventure, mystery, or other specific genres. I believe historical fiction, despite its inclusion of some of these other genres, DOES have some specific elements of its own. I’m looking to discuss this further with other historical fiction writers. Any takers?

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Categories: authors, books, inspiration, obligatory scenes, Story Structure, Structure | 8 Comments

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8 thoughts on “How to Choose Your Story’s Structure

  1. Carol Foote

    I would love to hear more about the obligatory scenes you think historical novels should have. I’ve written a YA historical, but it’s my first.

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  2. For HistFic I would say either strong character development at the forefront, or a focus on highly accurate historic detail.

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    • I definitely agree. I think (speaking about my own personal reasons) many read historical fiction expecting scenes that include accurate historical content woven around a strong protagonist’s character arc as the hero confronts obstacles intensified by the historical setting. I also hope that a historical fiction book will weave some kind of theme around the setting and character’s arc. Any other thoughts?

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  3. Marie, Thank you for your kind words about my Story Structure workshop a few weeks ago. If people are interested, they can get the replay at any time here: http://30daywritingchallengefornovelists.bethbarany.com/story-structure-training/. As for obligatory scenes in historical fiction, I like what you’re brainstorming here. I’m wondering if the theme and obstacles need to be directly related to historical elements in story.

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  4. Thanks for the link, Beth. I will definitely share it. I hope to get more historical fiction writers to chime in on this topic.

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  5. Pingback: Story Structure – The Virgin’s Archetypal Journey | Sontag Writing Dreams

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"Nothing happens unless first a dream." Carl Sandburg

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ACFW - DFW CHAPTER a.k.a. DFW Ready Writers

"Nothing happens unless first a dream." Carl Sandburg

ACFW SFBayArea

Northern California Chapter of American Christian Fiction Writers

Letters to Noah

Spoken words are fleeting, but written words last beyond a lifetime.

Sontag Writing Dreams

"Nothing happens unless first a dream." Carl Sandburg

marsha ottum owen

I make Children's Books

Under His Wings

"Nothing happens unless first a dream." Carl Sandburg

Cathleen Armstrong

"Nothing happens unless first a dream." Carl Sandburg

A Writer's Diary

Author, Educator, Consultant

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