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Structuring Your Novel: Essential Keys for Writing an Outstanding Story

4.34  ·  Rating details ·  2,046 ratings  ·  323 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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Carrie (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…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)

Community Reviews

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4.34  · 
Rating details
 ·  2,046 ratings  ·  323 reviews

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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
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
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
Shelves: nonfiction, writing
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
Hope Ann
Jan 08, 2017 rated it it was amazing
A must read for any writer!
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
Hazel McNellis
Sep 09, 2017 rated it it was amazing

Der Schreibratgeber geht sehr ausführlich auf den Aufbau/die Struktur eines Romans ein. Dabei gliedert er sich in die Kapitel über den Anfang und Aufhänger, der 3-Akt-Struktur sowie der Szenenstruktur (Szene vs. Sequel) und zuletzt der Satzstruktur in einem Roman.


Ich mag den Ratgeber echt gerne! Er ist zwar in englischer Sprache verfasst, aber trotzdem sehr gut verständlich und logisch nachvollziehbar. Ich mag, wie detailliert auf die einzelnen Aspekte eingegangen wird. Dabei führt
Opened my eyes in so many ways...
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
Brooke Johnson
Feb 01, 2016 rated it liked it
I'd rate the first half of the book at 5*. It's a really good plot structure overview, listing all the key points you need to hit in a novel to create compelling structure. HOWEVER, in the second half of the book, when the author gets into Scene & Sequel, the breakdown of structure gets FAR too prescriptive for my tastes. The author claims that you can break from the structure, but at the same time, she continuously pushes the point that you MUST have points A, B, and C to each scene and eac ...more
Nina del 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.
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 ~Whatever you are, be a good one~
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,
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
Sep 17, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Muy útil, sobre todo porque abarca 3 tipos de estructura: de la historia, de las escenas y de las oraciones.

Calculo que es aconsejable ir haciendo un esquema a medida que se lee, pienso que eso ayudaría a fijar mejor los conocimientos porque de repente se siente como mucha información ya, sobre todo en la parte de la estructura de la historia, que es la más extensa.

Muy recomendable, creo que aporta conocimientos fundamentales para un escritor.
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.
Nicolas Brown
Jan 31, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Thoroughly enjoyable; poignantly helpful. I will be rereading this book in the future. I listened to it on audio; however, this will probably be a book on my desk in the near future. It will have many pencil'ed notes in it.
Nov 10, 2018 rated it really liked it
Pretty dang good. Wasn't sold in the first half about structure but the second half on scenes and sentences was well worth the price of admission.
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studying movies and books 2 8 Dec 08, 2015 08:50PM  
  • Rock Your Plot: A Simple System for Plotting Your Novel (Rock Your Writing, #1)
  • Write Your Novel From the Middle: A New Approach for Plotters, Pantsers and Everyone in Between
  • Story Physics: Harnessing the Underlying Forces of Storytelling
  • Nail Your Novel: Why Writers Abandon Books And How You Can Draft, Fix and Finish With Confidence
  • The Positive Trait Thesaurus: A Writer's Guide to Character Attributes
  • Plot
  • Scene & Structure (Elements of Fiction Writing)
  • Dialogue: Techniques and exercises for crafting effective dialogue
  • The Plot Whisperer: Secrets of Story Structure Any Writer Can Master
  • The Complete Handbook Of Novel Writing: Everything You Need To Know About Creating & Selling Your Work (Writers Digest)
  • Characters, Emotion & Viewpoint: Techniques and Exercises for Crafting Dynamic Characters and Effective Viewpoints
  • Make a Scene: Crafting a Powerful Story One Scene at a Time
  • 90 Days to Your Novel: A Day-By-Day Plan for Outlining & Writing Your Book
  • Hooked: Write Fiction That Grabs Readers at Page One & Never Lets Them Go
  • Writing 21st Century Fiction: High Impact Techniques for Exceptional Storytelling
  • Description & Setting
  • 2,000 to 10,000: How to Write Faster, Write Better, and Write More of What You Love
  • GMC: Goal, Motivation and Conflict: The Building Blocks of Good Fiction
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
“The Resolution is not just the ending of this story, but also the beginning of the story the characters will live in after readers have closed the back cover.” 10 likes
“Most stories aren’t meant to tell every detail of a character’s life. A story is just a snapshot, a set period of time chosen and extracted from a character’s life because it offers the necessary dramatic arc.” 6 likes
More quotes…