A Libra’s Guide to Finishing Your Novel, Part Two: Structure

a libras guide

It’s important to see the finish line when you start the marathon.

Which means that it’s helpful for Libra writers to implement some sort of structure into their writing routine. Be it an outline, a notecard stack, or even a murder board like the one used in Castle, structure can become a Libra writer’s best friend.

Structuring Techniques

What sort of structuring techniques exist? Just outlining?

There are a myriad of ways a writer can structure a Work in Progress. An outline is but one choice. Here are some ideas:

  • Charts
    • K.M. Weiland has a book all about the subject (and a separate workbook!) and, in this blog post here, shows a neat linear chart that illustrates key points in the novel’s plot. The post includes a download link for a handy PDF of a visual chart created by Matt Gemmell. The PDF is a free download, so clicky clicky!
  • Mapping
    • Mapping is another tool a lot of writers use. TLN’s very own Kandis Hebert has blogged about Scapple before and has had excellent results. The software is $14.99 USD but offers a free trial if you’re not sure that Scapple is the right tool for you. Scapple is available for both Windows and Mac operating systems, so give it a try!
      • If the cost is a factor, there are free mapping apps available for iPad. One such app is Mindscope (free with unlockable features available for purchase), which I have used in the classroom with great effectiveness.
  • Note Cards
    • In addition to using outlines for my novels, I’ve also recently included note cards as a part of my planning and writing process. Better Novel Project has created a master outline that includes key note cards and where to put them. Even if outlining isn’t your style, the note card method may help.
  • Plot Charts
    • A term that I use for general story structures, like Freytag’s Pyramid (which I dislike). This term encompasses structure methods including the Hero’s/Heroine’s Journey, the Fichean Curve, and the vast other charting methods that an author can use. Kristen at Well-Storied has created a lovely post that includes the biggies and even features structures best suited for multiple POVs.
  • Plot Boards / Storyboards
    • Here’s where Beckett’s murder board comes in. A plot board is more tactile than the digital mapping methods and can include whatever visual tools you need, like photographs of characters and connections between story elements. Be cautious, though, because this may require a hearty printer and a lot of space.
      • You can use Scrivener’s corkboard feature to create a digital plot board that isn’t visually similar to a story map. You can include pictures, PDFs, and other documents that can be manipulated on the board as needed.

The Beauty of It All

Structuring your novel doesn’t mean that anything that you write, pin, bookmark, print, or what have you, is set in stone. Your structuring method can be as flexible as you need it to be. Outlines will change, plot boards will expand, and note cards will multiply. Do what needs to be done to make sure that WIP becomes a finished manuscript.

Still looking for other ideas?

Follow Vivien’s board Novel Structure on Pinterest.


What structuring methods do you use? Share them in the comments!

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