Last week I told you about the structure of the novels, in that article you will find some advice and I also explained, a little above, what it was and why it is so important. I don’t think I need to remind you, but since I’m sure there will be more than one “clueless” out there that is still catching flies, I repeat: the structure of the novel is its backbone ; if you tear it off, cut it, damage it or ride it wrong. you can imagine.
Today’s class will be long and possibly tedious, so calm down and be patient. We will start by explaining some types of structures, then I will move on to the two pillars of the novel, so… Let’s go!
The structure of the novel
4 structures according to your story
All stories have four things in common: the setting, the idea, the character, and the event . Although all four will be present in your story, each novel usually has a predominant element. How do we choose the element that will predominate? Well, that will be decided by the writer, this point is completely personal; Sometimes it will be the story that tells you which element you should base yourself on, other times it will be yourself focusing on the option that is most comfortable for you during the ghost writing process.
Structure 1: The environment
The environment is the place where you base your story: society, planet, world… All the factors of that expletive that is so fashionable now come into play here: worldbuilding . All stories have a setting, but not all have it as a basis. A good example of this structure is Gulliver’s Travels , Swift cares little about characters. The important thing is the lands you visit and the sly comparison of their societies with the English of the time. It would have been stupid in this case to stop and tell us about Gulliver’s childhood or his wedding or what he had for breakfast before taking the boat.
The story begins with his travels.
Structures based on the environment always work like this: the character, who is a mere observer, explores the world and its details, is interested in the things around him and these things have an effect on him; They change or affect you . In the end he comes back and is a new person. An example is The Wizard of Oz , the story does not end when the Wicked Witch of the West is killed, it ends when Dorothy returns home. This structure is more common in genre novels — especially fantasy and science fiction — although you can use it in any story.
If when writing you realize that you enjoy discovering and describing that world, then your best option is to continue down that path and structure your novel about the environment. The structure is quite simple: your story begins when the character arrives and will end when he leaves or, failing that, when he decides that this is the place.
Structure 2: The idea
This structure is based on the information the characters discover as they progress through the story . This structure is also extremely simple: it will start when the question is asked and end when the question is answered .
Mystery stories, thrillers, and detective novels follow this structure. The story usually begins with a crime and the big question is usually: Who did it and why? The story ends when the identity of the culprit is revealed.
In speculative fiction – how little I like the term – this type of structure usually works very well: What happened to this lost civilization on such a distant planet? Why did they become extinct? If they were so smart, why are they all dead? In Star Arthur C. Clarke solves it with a sun that has become a supernova.
If you decide to write a story based on an idea, remember to start as close to the moment the question arises as possible . Again I don’t want to know what the character has for breakfast. Don’t tell me about your golden retirement years either, it ends as soon as you’ve answered the question .
Structure 3: The character
Stories based on a character narrate their personal transformation. They can be based on one character or many, usually the story is about who or what he is and his process of self-discovery.
An example is The Great Gatsby . In the development of the story, the vision we have of the eccentric character changes completely, the narrator -which in this case is not Gatsby himself-, paints us a complete photograph of the character, being amazed to discover some facets of Jay and, in general , of all the main characters, who are showing different facets during the novel.
The structure, in this case, is as simple as the rest: the story will begin when the character has a problem , at which point a process of change will begin. The story ends when the character finishes the process ; either by changing — for better or worse — or by staying as he was. An example of the latter would be the character of Winston, in 1984 .
Structure 4: The event
Stories based on an event are easy to recognize: the world is living in a golden age, but a sudden “event” changes the natural flow of things and threatens to take it all away . In The Lord of the Rings it is the appearance of an ancient evil, in Longings and Sorrows it is the death of a good king, in It it would be the return of formless evil, in Dune the birth of a special child and in Hamlet the murder of a king.
The story will end when order is re-established, when a new order is born or, something stranger, when the world descends into chaos and everything is destroyed . In this case, the story will start a little before or a little after, but never at the moment when everything explodes, it will always begin when the main character appears on the scene. In Longings and Sorrows , Simon appears before the king’s death, while in Hamlet , the story begins after the murder.