Good novels have nine structural points. Bad novels have them, too.

As I mentioned earlier, plotting’s not my thing. If writers are either architects or gardeners, as George R. R. Martin says, I, like him, plant a seed and watch it grow.

I wrote my first four novels relying on my intuitive storytelling abilities. They’re not perfect, but they’re solid. When I wrote them, I didn’t think about three-act structuring, nine (or six, of fifteen) points, turning points, big black moments. I felt them, and I used them spontaneously. They’re all there, in my stories.

And then I made a mistake and started reading books on how to write, and got lost. Except for Steve Alcorn’s classes, which are great and teach you all you need to know about structuring, everything else only confused me, not to mention the negative effect on my self-esteem.

I soon realized something important. All the great fiction novels, regardless of the genre, have all these elements, from Pride and Prejudice, to Susan Elizabeth Philips’ romances (my favourite).

The thing is, all the shallow, boring or downright stupid novels have them, too. I know this because I occasionally read them, sometimes because I have to, sometimes because, as I like to say, your writing persona learns something useful from every book you read, so I force myself to finish reading what I foolishly started.

What makes the difference between Susan Elizabeth Phillips and total trash is somewhere else, not in the nine structural points.

I decided to go back to my writing foundation—my inner sense of storytelling.

It’s a relief.

If anyone ever asked me for a piece of advice, I’d say – don’t let anyone tell you how to write your story.

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About jfkaufmann

Not unlike my characters, I lead a double life: by day I'm a mother, a friend, a colleague, and the queen of my kitchen. When the moon rises, however, I shift into my other self and, as Queen of the Night, I reign the magical world of my imagination.
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