All Posts

Writing Structure

The best books I can recommend for getting to grips with story structure is probably K.M. Weiland’s “Outlining Your Novel” and her “Structuring Your Novel”.

I know this will be a controversial decision, not because they’re not great books (they are - and the companion workbook is also highly recommended) but because there are so very many good books out there which detail the key points of story structure.

Certainly Stephen King’s “On Writing” is a classic for a reason. As too is Robert McKee’s “Story” (UK Link) (US Link), if slightly more focused on screenwriting. Not to forget a more recent entry John Yorke’s “Into the Woods” which is extremely popular. All of these are excellent and you will do well to read them.

No, the reason I recommend Weiland’s book is that it is simple, clear and gets to the point straight away. It lets you ensure your story works, hits the right beats that every reader is subconsciously expecting, and is truly satisfying in the way that great tales can be. Following the workbook steps alone is enough to get your story licked into shape - and doing it before you start writing (unlike yours truly) will allow your imagination to soar and create amazing stories without needing to worry about the niggling details behind the scenes.

The other books go deeper into why stories work, how they work, and are all the more fascinating for that. But for someone who just wants to know what to do with their ideas, the practical guide Weiland provides will get you going much more rapidly. She uses copious examples from popular and classic fiction, and often movies too - you can more easily grasp the structure of a 90 minute movie than a 500-page novel, after all!

On Writing - Stephen King

On Writing - Stephen King

A classic with good reason, King has written more books than I suspect many people have read in their entire lives.

Story - Robert McKee

Story - Robert McKee

Primarily aimed at screenwriters, but the advice is just as easily applied to all forms of writing.

Tools

Here are a few tools that I have found useful for my writing.

Scrivener

Scrivener

I will detail why later, but for now just know that if you’re writing in Microsoft Word or a similar word processor, you’re probably frustrated at how difficult it makes it to just get writing. Try Scrivener free for 30 days (that’s 30 days of actual use, not just a month from when you download it) and see if it works for you. I’m confident it will. There’s a Mac, PC and iOS version - all of them work together great and even sync seamlessly so you can write at home on your regular computer and then edit on your phone - or vice versa!

Hugo

Hugo

Not for the faint-hearted, but this is a very powerful tool for creating a static website. If that doesn’t mean anything to you, then this might not be the tool for you! For me though, with my former life as an engineer it lets me get down into the nuts & bolts of my own website in a way that the other tools out there simply didn’t.