KP Book Review: Structuring Your Novel

This book is pretty much a goldmine for any writer who wants to delve more into story structure.  Weiland’s goal in this book is two-fold: to show how a basic story structure underlies pretty much every good work of fiction, and then to teach the would-be writer how to use the basic parts of story structure well. structuringyournovelpinterest

The largest section of the book is spent on the structure of the story as a whole; however, Weiland also spends a considerable amount of time looking at how individual scenes ought to be structured, and also multiple pages at the end to look at how sentences should be structured.  All of this leads to a book that covers many different areas of writing within the general theme of structure.

Weiland’s book has multiple strengths.  The first is her ability to use a diverse set of examples from fiction to pound each point home, as well as to show us how story structure can be applied to a lot of different kinds of books and movies in a way that doesn’t seem formulaic or repetitive. 

Looking at the individual sections of her book, her examination of how a story as a whole should be structured I found simply fantastic.  I’ve read multiple books before that touched on structure, but Weiland had one of the clearer and better explanations of it that I’ve read so far.  In addition, while most readers may be initially attracted to the book for that former side of story structure, her section on scene structure was surprisingly powerful as well.  In particular, her explanation of how each scene is really composed of two parts (scene and sequel), and how each scene needs both parts to be truly effective was really good and personally helped me a lot in my writing.

As a writer, I definitely lean more toward the plotter way of writing, as does Weiland.  Given that, while I found her book very helpful, it may not be quite as useful for a more seat-of-the-pants type writer, given her emphasis on figuring out a story’s structure before the writing actually begins.  Nevertheless, several parts of the story, including her large section on scene structure, touched on many areas that both plotters and pantsers can learn equally from.  Overall, this was one of the clearest and best books on story structure that I’ve read and one that I very much benefited from reading.

Profile photo of Josiah DeGraaf
Josiah DeGraaf is a high school English teacher and literature nerd who fell in love with stories when he was young and hasn’t fallen out of love ever since.
He writes because he’s fascinated by human motivations. What causes otherwise-good people to make really terrible decisions in their lives? Why do some people have the strength to withstand temptation when others don’t? How do people respond to periods of intense suffering? What does it mean to be a hero?
These questions drive him as a reader, and they drive him as a writer as well as he takes normal people, puts them in crazy situations (did he mention he writes fantasy?), and then forces them to make difficult choices with their lives.
Someday, Josiah hopes to write fantasy novels with worlds as imaginative as Brandon Sanderson’s, characters as complex as Orson Scott Card’s, character arcs as dynamic as Jane Austen’s, themes as deep as Fyodor Dostoyevsky’s, and stories as entertaining as Wayne Thomas Batson’s. In the meantime, you can find him writing articles here or short stories at his website (link below) as he works toward achieving these goals.
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  1. Sounds like a great book!
    I’m a passionate pantser, but I usually know pretty much everything that’s going to happen before I start actually writing. Even if I didn’t and took it all completely on the fly, I think I would still find this book fascinating. 🙂

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