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Structuring Your Novel: Essential Keys for Writing an Outstanding Story

(Helping Writers Become Authors #3)

4.32  ·  Rating details ·  2,404 ratings  ·  372 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 discover the universal underpinnings that guarantee powerful plot and character arcs. An understanding of proper story and scene structure will help you to not on
Paperback, 295 pages
Published August 24th 2013 by PenForASwordPublishing (first published August 13th 2013)
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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
Aug 23, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
Jenny Baker
Mar 22, 2017 rated it liked it
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
Harley Christensen
Aug 24, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
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
A must read for any writer!
Rich Weatherly
Aug 24, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
Jan Marshall
Aug 29, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
Jun 13, 2017 rated it liked it
Shelves: on-writing, dnf, by-women
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
Jan 29, 2016 rated it really liked it
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
Rachelle Cobb
Aug 24, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
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
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
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
Thomas Edmund
Dec 28, 2019 rated it it was amazing
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
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.
Opened my eyes in so many ways...
Jul 25, 2019 rated it liked it
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
Caitlyn Lynch
Apr 27, 2018 rated it it was amazing
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
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,
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
Rebecca Berto
Apr 09, 2015 rated it it was amazing
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!
Jan 17, 2014 rated it really liked it
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.
Lisa Hall
Sep 14, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I've read this through twice and parts of more than that as I work through my own projects. The content is well presented, easy to comprehend and put into use. I recommend it for anyone who wants to get a writing project off the ground.
Joseph John
Apr 05, 2019 rated it it was amazing
This goes on my shelf of must-read books about the theory of story structure.

Weiland's proposed structure follows the traditional three-act structure, but it expounds on what you'll find in other essential like Story by Robert McKee and Blake Snyder's Save the Cat. She also dives deeper into what constitutes a good opening scene; how to hook your readers and keep them hooked; and her interpretation of the relationship between the inciting incident, key event, and first plot point.

There's even a
Jan 09, 2018 rated it it was amazing
I loved this book so much despite how long it took me to finish it!
It is true that it doesn't offer any new information on story structure that couldn't be found in other books on the subject, but I liked the way it was presented here. All the information was well structured and organized. It also provides examples that are easy and accessible for the average audience.
Overall, it was easy to understand and fun to read. If I only read one book on story structure in my life, it might as well be th
Mar 22, 2020 rated it really liked it
Like many people, I have an intrinsic grasp of plot and structure, but I find it hard to articulate how it works, and even harder to apply it to my own stories. This book is really helpful in breaking plot down to its bare bones, and explaining how it all works. What exactly does a three-act structure entail? What is the purpose of the first plot point, and when should it occur? It also gives hand-on examples from famous films and books. I also found the second part, in which the author explains ...more
Oct 06, 2017 rated it it was amazing
After struggling for an entire year trying to write my novel, I read this book. I re-read it. I took notes. Then I locked myself in a hotel room for 2 days and wrote an outline for a 30 chapter novel.

This is the HIGHEST praise I can offer. For once I read a how-to and it delivered!!!!

#NANoWriMo folks, this is a MUST READ. <3 <3 <3
Jun 15, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: non-fiction
I learned a lot from this manual on structuring a novel. It goes through the three act architecture, spacing out major plot points, the scene/sequel partnership, and character arcs. The advice on sentence structure and word choice seemed intuitive and less helpful. Even better, this information is helpful for writing short stories too.
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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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