Friday, March 31, 2023

Don't Forget Your Novel's Structure

Critique groups are essential, provide a fresh look and perspective, and have that emotional distance from the writing. Easy readers, picture books, and young chapter books are easily tackled during a critique meeting because they are short. But critiquing a novel chapter by chapter misses the big picture. I think you’ll also need a secondary source to critique the novel as a whole.

You can ask a writer friend who writes novels, and this is important, who is also aware of a novel’s structure to give your manuscript a holistic critique.

You can pay for a professional whole novel critique from published writers or editors who freelance. Prices range from several dollars per page to several thousand dollars for a whole novel critique.

There are workshops and retreats that offer whole novel revisions focusing on the structure or character or plot, etc. I am a strong supporter of the Highlights Foundation Workshops. I’ve attended many and they are excellent.

The most affordable option is reading Save The Cat! Writes A Novel by Jessica BrodyIn her book, she breaks down the novel structure into 15 beats starting with the first beat, Opening Image, to the last beat, Final Image. She explains each beat using examples from popular novels.

She discusses 10 different genres, also using well known novels, and breaks them down into their 15 different beats.

There are thought-provoking exercises after some chapters, a chapter on writing loglines and synopses, and a chapter specific to helping the author solve their novel problems.

What I love about this book is her explanations because I’m a why person. Tell me why this works or why I should do it this way. I really appreciated the examples because I’m also a visual person, if I see it, I will remember it better. I read some of the novels listed and I could visualize the scenes that she used for her examples.

There are many excellent books written on the craft of writing. But my favorite is  Save The Cat! Writes A Novel by Jessica Brody.


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