Writing Essentials: Structuring and Outlining Your Novel by Kim Weiland

I’ve often wondered why high school English teachers seemed more concerned with teaching students iambic pentameter rather than the basics of actual story structure. As a teenager, when I’d try to write my own books, I’d wonder why the beginning would seem solid, but the story would end up meandering and soon become boring. When I decided to become more serious about writing, I purchased Kim Weiland’s books and found them eye opening.

I’d never heard of the three act structure before, or of scenes and sequels. I didn’t know the importance of conflict or character motivation. Unconsciously, I knew. It was what let me read a story and know that there was something missing, but having these structures spelled out helped me figure out why something wasn’t working.

If you’re familiar with the basics of story structure, you might find this book simplistic. Certainly, I found the same kind of elements repeated in other books that I have read since. If you don’t know what an inciting incident is and what typically takes place at 25%, 50%, and 75% in a story, these books are for you. Personally, I’m too much of a discovering writer to create the rigorous kind of outline that Weiland likes, but I find the principles excellent diagnostics for helping me when I get stuck.