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Sunday, November 27, 2022

From the archives

cj Sez: “As I have mentioned before—” That’s my sneaky way to introduce a subject I’ve written about before: the story structure authors need to follow to turn their ideas into intriguing novels. 

  Today seemed like a good time to resurrect that post since all you NaNoWriMo writers are racing to the end zone and will soon be gearing up for the editing on that raw, 50K-word manuscript. (Hip, Hip, Hurray for thirty days of writing discipline, 50K or no 50K.)

  Eons ago, when I was still working full time, I attended a screenwriting seminar led by author, lecturer, and story consultant Robert McKee. 

  The experience was invaluable in showing me how to create scenes that create a story. 

  Now I envision all of my story ideas as a play or movie, each chapter (act) having a beginning, middle, and an end that, hopefully, makes the reader want to turn the page. And that pattern doesn’t just apply to chapters. Ideally, it applies to scenes as well.

  Then in 2014, I happened across a post titled “Adapting screenplay to novels,” by author James Preston.

  Mr. Preston’s post explained how he reverse-engineered a screenplay into a story. The following is an excerpt from Mr. Preston's post. 

Kurt Vonnegut Graphic
“Remember, a story is about somebody who wants something. Something stops them from getting it. They try to get it and either succeed or fail. 

 This is called the Plot Point. It changes the  story, turns it into something unexpected, usually by changing the heroine’s goals.
  Since I am talking about adapting this structure to novel writing, I will use page numbers to show locations in the manuscript. Assume a 200-page manuscript.  We’ll see how it works as minutes.

  Let’s talk about the bones, the skeleton that is one way of building your story.

1. Hook. Something interesting happens that grabs the reader’s attention. This is the very beginning of the story and it is important!

2. Twist.The story goes off in a different direction. It’s not what you thought it would be. This can come any time before . . .

3. Plot Point One. About 20% in. For our mythical 200-page books, this is around page 40.

4. Midpoint. A watershed moment. You guessed it. Page 100.

5. Plot Point Two. Everything the heroine did is wrong. Page 160.

6. Climax. The heroine solves the problem, or doesn’t. This is less precise. Say around page 180.

7. Denouement. Loose ends are tied up. Everybody who wasn’t killed and eaten goes home.”


  cj Sez: I personally liken all of the above to a stairway the character travels to get from the beginning to the end.

  How would my work-in-progress stack up against Mr. Preston’s skeleton, you ask? It needs editing, a lot of editing.


Books do make great gifts . . . especially multi-story anthologies.

  Ebooks available for 99 cents at the time of this post

   Each of these anthologies is a two-fer—you get wonderful stories to read and part of the proceeds will go to benefit a worthwhile charity. (Note: I have a short story in each anthology.)


  That’s it for today’s post. You-all guys keep on keeping on, and I’ll try to do the same. 


  No inflation here: THE DAWGSTAR and DEATH ON THE YAMPA, my fast-paced, exciting suspense/thriller ebooks, are now low-, low-priced at $2.99.

  P.S.  The Haunted Book Shop has signed paperback copies of my books in stock. TO ORDER, contact The Haunted Bookshop here:  

Happy reading!

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