I hope you all are doing well! I know I’ve been MIA lately, but I’m back! I want to thank you all so much for your patience! It really means the world to me ❤ I hope you all enjoy this post and that it makes up for my absence a little bit 🙂
While I was ‘away’ I finished the first draft of my novel! Since then, I’ve started the editing process and am currently on chapter three of my second draft. Creating my retroactive outline and starting the process of re-working my novel inspired me to write a post with some basic tips on structuring your first draft.
First of all, make sure you hook them in your first chapter.
As a reader, if a book doesn’t grab me in the first few paragraphs, I’m probably not going to finish it. The same goes for your book. Construct your outline so that the ‘inciting incident’ – or the first “oh sh*t” moment in your story – is up front and center. The inciting incident is important because it gives your character a reason to change and begin the rest of your story.
Secondly, pace your story properly.
Pacing is SO important. Structure your outline so that the lulls in action aren’t too long, the character building isn’t too drawn out and the action isn’t overused. Think of your book like a song. Make the action good, intersperse some character building throughout like a good drum beat and give your readers time to reflect on what’s happening as your characters take a little bit of a break.
Thirdly, make your characters heart-pounding.
Think of your favorite novel. Go! Good, now think of your favorite character in that novel. I bet you loved them because they were realistic or reminded you of someone you know. Amiright? In my experience, heart-pounding characters are the nitty gritty ones we can relate to, that we sympathize with, and if we can’t understand them (i.e., some villains) we can at least respect them. Make your characters blood-and-bone realistic and your readers will LOVE them (Reference Human by Rag-n-Bone Man). I’m talking Peeta love.
Fourth, make that climax Usher-worthy.
If you’ve never heard the song Climax by Usher, sorry for the pun. If so, you know what I’m talking about;) The tipping point in your story, the climax, should be where the SH*T hits the F-ing fan. In order to do this, you have to 1. Make your readers care about your characters living or dying (give them a solid personality and deep humanity), 2. Explain the stakes (no fairies and unicorns here, ya’ll, unless it’s a romantic fantasy) and 3. Let there be an actual possibility someone could die (Suzanne Collins, anyone?). It’s okay to break your readers’ heart if it’s via a perfectly orchestrated climactic scene. Only time, though, ‘kay?
Lastly, decide how you’ll finish it.
Cliffhanger? Wrap it all up? Have them wake up from a dream, showing they dreamt the whole freaking thing? Your choice. Just make sure it ends in a way that your readers have to wait a little while before they start another book☺
I know this was a short post, but I hope it helps you structure your story a little better. My next post will deal with outlining more in-depth and discuss the three-act structure I’m using to write my own novel. Right now, I’m in the re-writing process. I plan to use the re-write as my second draft and edit it before my Alpha readers get their hands on it.
Did you like this post? Please let me know what you think of it! I love getting comments from you with your thoughts on the subjects. Thank you all for being so patient while I was away. It’s been a little crazy over here.
Love and blessings always,