Writing the knock-out novel: pt 3 – RWAus14

Structure – Door #1

Structure is the software for your imagination


Putting the story in the right order allows people to read it in the best way possible :



Or as some people have:




Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco

  • Pillars go deep into the ground
  • Cables suspend the bride

Act 1           |    Act 2      | Act 3
Beginning|  Middle     | End

(just pretend that is a suspension bridge with road in the middle, pillars underneath, and steel cables on top please).

Info on how to create disturbance for your hero is below the cut.


The story begins when you strike the match, not when you lay out the wood


`The cat sat on the mat` is not the beginning of a plot.

`The cat sat on the dog`s mat` is.

~ John Le Carre
The Wizard of Oz

  • Starts with Dorothy running down the road, looking over her shoulder


Gone with the Wind

  • Starts with Scarlet flirting at a bbq, then gets the news that Ashley is going to marry Melanie


Star Wars

  • Prologue with Darth Vader capturing Princess Leia
  • Then Luke with uncle buying droids, messing around with one and then gets Leia`s message:  `help me Obi Wan Kenbi, you are my only hope`


Opening sentences:

Even before the events in the supermarket, Jim Ironheart should have known that trouble was coming (Cold Fire)

~ Dean Koontz


The world outside the window was in flames.  The leaves on the pistachio trees shone fire-red and orange.  Mattie studied the early morning light.  She was lying on the side f the bed where her husband should have been sleeping

~ Anne Lamot – Blue Shoe
First person

  • Needs to have a distinctive voice
  • Have an attitude
  • Interesting enough to listen to
  • Eg catcher in the rye – opening sentence shows narrator is disturbed `know about my lousy childhood`


Doorway of No Return  #1

See Christopher Voegler`s work on heroes journey


Characters are comfortable, don’t want to leave the comfy chair in their home – need to push them through the doorway

Need to turn their world upside down, so they can`t go back to the comfortable world  (at least not the way they left it)


First doorway / first act:

1/4 way through a movie

1/5 way through a book


Wizard of Oz – when Dorothy gets to Oz

  • Symbolised by change to colour



  • Ilsa and Viktor walk into Rick`s Café Americain 1/4 through the movie


On the Waterfront

  • When Brando`s character goes to leave the dead man`s sister after saying he can`t help, but then stays with her afterall


Gone with the wind

Civil war breaks out 1/4 of the way into the movie


Your thoughts and stuff

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