Yet More Story Structure

NOTE: This is part of a series on story structure. I will be collecting them all up and putting them into a book once I’m finished, as part of my Business for Breakfast series.

Fair warning: I’ve never written either a short story or a novel completely in this format. But I’ve used this format in pieces, I’ve read both short and long fiction using this form, and I have opinions about it.

Traditionally, the epistolary structure is a story that’s told via written letters between one or more characters. The definition has been broadened, such…


Keep Calm and Write On

Man catching sword falling out of the sky on a beach
Man catching sword falling out of the sky on a beach

A friend contacted me on a Monday. She had a writing/promotional opportunity for me. She needed a novel from me, based on a particular theme.

I didn’t have one for her. However, that wasn’t the end of the conversation.

I realized that I did have a short story that would fit the theme perfectly. In addition, it was a short story that I always had wanted to expand, possibly into a novel.

I explained my situation to her, that I didn’t have anything yet, but I could have something for her by the following Thursday…


Passing those not-so-subtle signposts

Old woman’s hands
Old woman’s hands

When I was in my mid-forties, I was finally diagnosed as hypothyroid. I’d had symptoms of hypothyroidism since I’d been twenty-eight. However, no doctor cared enough to put together these various symptoms of mine to do anything about it.

The diagnosis wasn’t that dreadful. It wasn’t as if I’d suddenly been told I had cancer.

However, it did require that I change my attitudes in terms of what I considered healthy.

Before that time, I’d only taken medication when I was sick. I would stop taking whatever was prescribed for me when I got better. This…


Yet More Story Structure

NOTE: This is part of a series on story structure. I will be collecting them all up and putting them into a book once I’m finished, as part of my Business for Breakfast series.

One of my favorite structures is what I call the plot-coupon book. This structure, as you might guess, involves the main character going around and collecting more than one item to finish their quest. The main character will face a challenge with each item, each more difficult than the last.

This structure is subtly different than the quest structure, where the main…


The Gentle Art of Making Books Readable

I’ve gotten heavily into reading fiction recently. Just figured out that over the last four weeks, I’ve finished eight novels. And that doesn’t include the samples of books that I read, searching for the one I really wanted to read at that point.

As a writer, I tend to say that I write all over the map, that is, I don’t write stories in a single genre. I’ve written fantasy of all varieties (epic, urban, historical, etc.), science fiction, mystery, straight literary, horror, as well as non-fiction.

As a reader, I read all…


More Story Structure

NOTE: This is part of a series on story structure that I decided to do. I will be collecting them all up and putting them into a book once I’m finished.

As I’ve said before, there are many, many ways to tell a story. One of the methods that I’ve used in the past, and that I’ll use again, is what I tend to refer to as the travelogue story. There are other names for it. I have a writing book that refers to it as the milieu structure. …


Falsely Building Tension

I was reading a book recently, in what was supposed to be a tense scene. The writer had done all the other things correctly to build tension — they had shorter sentences. Shorter words. Breathless pacing. Interruptions.

I still found myself rolling my eyes and not being fully drawn in. I knew I was supposed to be tense. Instead, I was skimming to the end of the conflict to the part where the story started back up again.

It took me a few minutes to figure out why I’d resisted being engaged.

It’s something that my husband…


Continuing Series on Story Structure

NOTE: This is part of a series on story structure that I decided to do. I will be collecting them all up and putting them into a book once I’m finished.

There are times when you just have a single item that your main character is going to be searching for. They are going on a quest, and while they might have additional adventures while on this quest, their primary goal is to find this item.

There can be quests tucked into other story structures. But the main driving force of the quest structure is…


Harnessing Critical Voice

One of the pieces of advice that gets handed out to writers is that you need to read, both in the genre you write in as well as outside that genre.

In general, I agree with this advice, though I might phrase it differently: if you regularly create story, you should consume story. I know more than one writer who, in addition to reading, also watches TV as a method of consuming story.

However, for a lot of writers, it’s difficult to turn off that critical voice. Instead of reading for enjoyment and to consume story, you’re…


Basics of Story Structure

NOTE: This is part of a series on story structure that I decided to do. I will be collecting them all up and putting them into a book once I’m finished.

The reason why I’m covering this structure next is that it’s one of the more popular structures. You probably are already familiar with it, if not consciously then unconsciously, because you’ve consumed this structure so often in western literature.

You’ll see that this structure has something in common with the three-act structure, namely, they can both be broken down into three sections. …

Leah

Leah Cutter sold her first short story back in 1997, and continues to write and sell both her fiction and non-fiction. She supports herself with her writing.

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