Monday, September 5, 2016

Structure/ Formula/ Craft

As a writer in three different genres, I am constantly aware of how I need to structure the composition of my book. Not by content, but by the way the paragraphs, scenes, and then
chapters "build" the body of the work.

Perhaps it is part of my individual "voice" in these different genres, but in each I am writing to a particular audience. Each person reads differently. Each genre takes that into consideration. Each writer should know the "rules" of writing in their chosen genre before they begin.

That said, as a Regency romance novelist, I structure my book with ten-page chapters. No more, no less. Two person POV plot.  80-95 thousand words. I always have an epilogue. However, it's a very circuitous journey to the inevitable Happily Ever After. Give the readers what they want.

As a writer of contemporary romance, I find my page counts for chapters are lower. Same word count. And I do tend to like my epilogues. However, I write only in the main character's POV. Close third person.

I also dabble in murder mysteries. I write separate scenes within a chapter with page breaks and no transitions. Words counts are lower -- 35-50K. No epilogue, but with a cliffhanger ending. (Hopefully, to lure the reader into the next book.) Again, I only use the main character's POV.

New writers may ask -- Is it necessary to structure a book? Why can't I just write it the way I want?

Well, you can. It's your book. You can write it any way you want. But readers want certain things from books and if yours is not structured properly, well, it could bite you in the end.

Put it this way--you wouldn't build a house without a proper foundation. For that you need cement, lumber, nails, screws, big tools, and a set of blueprints. Blueprints, like writing "rules" are necessary. If you don't have them when you start, sure enough, by the end of building your structure, something will be off and then you'll have to find the mistake and fix it. Sometimes, you have to go all the way back to the beginning. (My father built a house once without blueprints. It took him twenty years to finish it.)

Tell me -- Do you think about the structure of your story before you write? Do you follow the rules? Did you know the rules before you started writing? And if you do know the rules, do you break them?

Anne Gallagher (c) 2016