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Structuring Your Novel: Essential Keys for Writing an Outstanding Story

(Helping Writers Become Authors #3)

4.32  ·  Rating details ·  2,592 ratings  ·  388 reviews
Is Structure the Hidden Foundation of All Successful Stories?

Why do some stories work and others don’t? The answer is structure. In this new guide from the author of the bestselling Outlining Your Novel, you will learn the universal underpinnings that guarantee powerful plot and character arcs. An understanding of proper story and scene structure will show you how to perfe
Kindle Edition, 326 pages
Published August 13th 2013 by PenForASword Publishing
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Wilder (I know this question is old, but for future readers:)

I actually found the workbook version more helpful. For me, it cut straight to the point and all…more
(I know this question is old, but for future readers:)

I actually found the workbook version more helpful. For me, it cut straight to the point and allowed me to get to work. For people who want more detail and time to ponder suggestions and tips, the book itself might be more useful.(less)

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Kellyn Roth
Originally posted on Reveries Reviews

4.5 stars

This book changed the way I look at story structure. It’s changed the way I look at the dramatic arc. At the books I read and the movies I watch. At the way I outline and write and revise.

Structuring Your Novel is a nonfiction book about writing … more specifically about story structure. It starts with a detailed look at the structure of a novel. It shows you the entire story arc in a new way, giving tips for writing each tiny little detail of the dr
Jenny Baker
I own a lot of writing advice books. Many of them have been sitting on my shelf unread because I thought they were going to be the equivalent of a dry, boring textbook. Most of them have been both educational and entertaining, inspiring me to keep reading more of them.

I just didn't love this book as much as most people. I'd put this in the "dry, boring textbook" category. Two-thirds of the content I've read in other advice books, so there really wasn't much new for me to learn, especially the s
Aug 23, 2013 rated it it was amazing
If you only buy one writing craft book this year, buy this one.

K.M. Weiland has, for years, provided sound advice on writing in her very popular blog, Wordplay http://www.helpingwritersbecomeauthor.... She has the rare ability to de-mystify topics that baffle so many writers. She takes concepts that seem thoroughly confusing, wrestles them down to the ground and makes them give up their secrets. She uses explanations and examples that are like turning a light on in a dark room. Her writing style
Harley Christensen
Aug 24, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: writing
Finally…Story, Scene and Sentence Structure Simplified

In Structuring Your Novel: Essential Keys for Writing an Outstanding Story, K.M. Weiland demystifies the concept of structure that is, as she aptly coins it, “…the single most overlooked, misunderstood - and yet important - part of storytelling."

From our story’s initial hook to the closing line, Weiland details the importance of structure and how to effectively incorporate it, while avoiding those pesky pitfalls that plague authors at any lev
Kayci Morgan
Jan 06, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Sometimes I feel like K.M. Weiland is the person that taught me how to write. From the day I was first linked to her website, I combed through it, absorbing everything I could about story structure. Her insights changed the way I look at a story and while I used to be able to fumble through and write something engaging 80 or 90% of the time, now that I know the things that make a story engaging, I can avoid, long, plotless, character sketches masquerading as stories.

This book has all the things
Hope Ann
Jan 08, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
A must read for any writer!
Rich Weatherly
Aug 24, 2013 rated it it was amazing
K.M. Weiland has delivered a carefully thought out and organized text on how to structure a novel. It is an excellent complement to her best selling writing resource, Outlining Your Novel: Map Your Way to Success. The text takes the reader step-by-step through a process which, if followed, should ensure writing that meets readers' expectations. You will find answers on how to avoid common pitfalls. The conversational tone delivers its message in a simple and effective manner.

I'm confident this b
Emily Wemily
Feb 12, 2021 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: on-writing

This was pretty good. It was split into three main parts:
1. Structuring a novel as a whole (First 60%)
2. Structuring scenes (middling 30%)
3. Structuring sentences (last 10% of book)

I got the most use out of the first part and found it especially easy to read, since I already familiar with Weiland's style of writing. It's very clear, with plentiful examples, and it's been great to read through while reviewing my novel's draft to see where I can improve it. Great self-reflection questions at t
Jan 29, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
In many ways, this book was like a revelation for me, although my revelations may be embarrassingly naive to folks who already know this.

First simple but crucial thing I learned: not all the acts in a 3-act structure are equal in length. In particular, the 2nd act it actually twice as long as the first or third. Everything makes sense now! I've tried to apply 3-act structure to movies or books a couple of times, always looking for the scene transitions at the 1/3 mark, and I could never find the
Jan Marshall
Aug 29, 2013 rated it it was amazing
I'm currently writing my first novel and have bought lots of books on the craft of writing, and particularly on structure, without finding the "right" book for me. I've never understood the rules completely: what the options are and what's carved in stone, whether I can I move an event to another place in my book, break the rules, etc. But I do believe I can stop searching now, because KM Weiland's book has eventually made it all fall into place. I put this down to three things:

1) Ms Weiland doe
Rae Sengele
While I found this book interesting enough, it was way too prescriptive for my liking. I've been finding more and more that KM Weiland likes to tell you that her way of writing is the only way of writing, and this book especially is bad about that. This isn't a book about structure, it's a book on how KM Weiland approaches structure. Turns out she's extremely fond of the "Hollywood" standard of writing, which clings WAY too steadfastly to its precious three acts, and she's very quick to tell you ...more
Rachelle Cobb
Aug 24, 2013 rated it really liked it
What I Loved

I learned a lot just from the Table of Contents--and that was how I knew I was going to be fascinated by the rest of K.M. Weiland's latest release, Structuring Your Novel: Essential Keys for Writing an Outstanding Story.

"Story structure is deeply instinctual. Most readers don't know a thing about structure; but they do know when a story doesn't work because something in its structure is off. Same goes for authors. Many successful authors write without any knowledge of structure, and
Mar 17, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: writers looking to improve their story and scene structure
Once you've read enough writing books, you start to find that they nearly all contain 85-90% advice you've heard before or figured out on your own. But if you're like me, you continue reading them for that 10-15% of new and useful content, because every piece helps when it comes to writing that damn book.

But once in a while, you come across a gem of a book that flips the ratio. I've read about the three act structure plenty of times. But never has it been explained so well, in so much detail, wi
Angell Johnson
Jul 03, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This book is brilliant and practical for writers of all genres. For years on end I had been info dumping the entire backstory in the first chapters of my previous novels. She introduces the p/p/f dimensions of every scene which simplifies the work in scattering backstory and keeping your story interesting and engaging.

I first discovered her from her short and sweet YouTube videos, and I just had to read her work. Her words have pushed me to go harder and read longer after hearing her speak for
E.D. Martin
Aug 30, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Author K.M. Weiland does a bit of everything - writing fantasy and speculative fiction, mentoring new writers, and blogging helpful tips about the writing process. Her new book, Structuring Your Novel: Essential Keys for Writing an Outstanding Story, is a must-read for anyone writing a novel, no matter what stage she's at in the process.

The book is a companion to her Outlining Your Novel: Map Your Way to Success. Part one walks writers through the basic structure of a 3-act story, from writing a
Catherine ~All for the greater glory of God~
Rating: 4 stars

Rating Reason: This book is practical and to the point. It's well-organized and obviously carefully planned. It's an interesting topic, since much of it is instinctive.

I encourage you to go into this book with the same mindset I encourage for all writing books: You're building your toolbox of writing tools... and you get to decide what goes in it. I am not saying the things in this book aren't useful and important, however. Writing books just tend to be a bit conceited (again,
Serena W. Sorrell
After zipping through Outlining Your Novel in one day I ravenously bought Structuring Your Novel. My thought process was that KM Weiland had presented OYN in such a fantastic, concise, and approachable manner full of authorial interjections that SYN was sure to illuminate points of structure I may be unfamiliar with.

Alas, it was not to be. I found SYN to be repetitive and grueling to read through. It read more like a text book and a skipping record. It lacked the more intimate feel I had come t
Nina Arce
Despite having attempted numerous resources on the subject, I've always been somewhat mystified by story structure. I'm definitely one of those writers who has worked off some kind of instinctive feeling for many of these concepts, but struggled with the ones I didn't know without really being able to identify why. This book helped me realise some of my personal structural weak points. I'm happy I found it when I did, as I will now be able to incorporate what I learned into ongoing projects and ...more
Review to come. As usual, K.M. Weiland hits home with explaining the ins and outs of novel writing, this time with a specific focus on structuring a novel in its basic facets. I'd recommend this for reading alongside "Outlining Your Novel" - it works really well. ...more
Thomas Edmund
Dec 28, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
For those who don't know them, Weiland manages a writer's website, regularly releasing podcasts and posts to aid writers with all the various elements of fiction, and even if you don't read this book I highly recommend subscribing.

Structuring your novel is a thorough dive into novel arcs, scenes and sentence structure. I personally found the Scene section the most useful analysis, although there is enough material to help many throughout the book. I would have liked to hear more about individual
Apr 22, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This an extremely insightful book on the craft of writing fiction. As I read this, I realized a lot of mistakes that I've made in the past, and I can't wait to try these guidelines. I am not giving it 5 stars yet because I haven't tried her techniques ... but I think they will help. ...more
Andrew Fendrich
Oct 03, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2020-bookshelf
Another excellent writing guide from KM Weiland. This one is a lot longer than the others I've read from her, so I had to take it in bits and pieces. Honestly, I prefer her shorter works, that cover specific topics, but this one is still really great. Her ending with sentence structure tips was a refreshing reminder. ...more
Opened my eyes in so many ways...
Jul 25, 2019 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: on-writing
I'm not going to rag on a plot structure book for being too prescriptive, because that's what you go to a plot structure book for, right? You go in with your grain of salt for some help and inspiration on the connective tissue of your storytelling, presumably because you've already got plenty of things to inspire you for the meat. If there's one thing I don't really need help with, it's encouragement to break the rules and follow my heart--I'm already following my heart, it's how I got into this ...more
Rosanne Hawke
Jul 19, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: writing
I can remember asking my uni supervisor how to structure a novel and he said it boils down to the character and he was right of course but I was after an easy fix -- I would have liked reading Structuring your Novel when I was beginning to write novels. In the absence of Kay Weiland's book I pulled apart novels that I felt worked well and decided what it was which made me feel that, and, as I was told, to 'work more on character'. Structuring your novel is helpful when writing genre but those no ...more
Caitlyn Lynch
Apr 27, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Structuring Your Novel: Essential Keys For Writing An Outstanding Story is a really useful tool for writers who haven’t been formally educated in the craft of writing and language structure (like myself). K.M. Weiland carefully breaks down, using references with which most people will be familiar, just what goes into making up a successful story and how to replicate that successful structure when planning and writing your own.

While the examples given are in some cases films, they are all based o
Nov 27, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I had an overall positive experience reading this simple how-to guide writing book. I would say the major positives would be:

1. A fantastic break down of "scenes" in the second half. Weiland excellently breaks down scenes into meaningful segments that can be used as practical guidance for creating scenes. This half is indispensable and makes up for any issues I have with other weaker aspects of it. I have already started using it for every one of my scenes in the story I'm working on.

2. Strong e
Aug 30, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Whether you are a pantser or plotter, understanding structure can help elevate your novel and allow you to make a bigger impact on readers. With Structure Your Novel, K.M. Wieland has crafted a guide that tackles macro and micro structure, story to scene. Taking writers step-by-step through the three act structure, the author expands on what important elements help form a compelling story (hook, characters, stakes, rising conflict, sub plots, foreshadowing, plot points, climax, etc.) and how to ...more
Joanne Roberts
Dec 08, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Thorough and fresh, this guide breaks story, scenes, and sentences down into manageable, logical bits. Text can be read straight through or used as a workbook, either during outlining or as a help in editing. The chapters on story were outstanding. The section on scenes useful. The last section on sentences is a good guide for beginning or untrained writers. Recommended. I used it as a step-by-step-guide, taking me through a six-month edit of my novel.
Rebecca Berto
Apr 09, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Great resource. Practical and easy to understand. I'm a visual learner, so often I find it hard to understand new ideas and concepts in reading. I work best when I can create a mindmap, put together pieces or actually write things out. This book is one of the few times I absorbed it without trouble. I highly recommend this Writing book! ...more
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K.M. Weiland lives in make-believe worlds, talks to imaginary friends, and survives primarily on chocolate truffles and espresso.

She is the IPPY, NIEA, and Lyra Award-winning and internationally published author of the acclaimed writing guides Outlining Your Novel, Structuring Your Novel, and Creating Character Arcs, as well as Jane Eyre: The Writer’s Digest Annotated Classic.

Her fiction include

Other books in the series

Helping Writers Become Authors (8 books)
  • Outlining Your Novel: Map Your Way to Success
  • Outlining Your Novel Workbook: Step-by-Step Exercises for Planning Your Best Book
  • Structuring Your Novel Workbook: Hands-On Help for Building Strong and Successful Stories
  • Conquering Writer's Block and Summoning Inspiration: Learn to Nurture a Lifestyle of Creativity
  • 5 Secrets of Story Structure: How to Write a Novel That Stands Out
  • Creating Character Arcs: The Masterful Author's Guide to Uniting Story Structure, Plot, and Character Development
  • Creating Character Arcs Workbook: The Writer's Reference to Exceptional Character Development and Creative Writing

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