Anatomy of a Best-Selling Story—Structure Part One

Kristen Lamb's Blog

Structure Matters Structure Matters

Writers must understand structure if they hope to be successful. Yes, it might take five years to finish the first novel, but if we land a three book deal, we don’t have 15 years to turn in our books. Also, in the new paradigm of publishing, writers who produce more content have greater odds of making money at this writing thing.

Understanding structure helps us become faster, cleaner, better writers. Structure is essential to all stories, from screenplays to novels to epic space operas.

Plotters tend to do better with structure, but even pantsers (those writers who write by the seat of their pants) NEED to understand structure or revisions will be HELL. Structure is one of those boring topics like finance or taxes. It isn’t nearly as glamorous as creating characters or reading about ways to unleash our creative energy.

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I’ve run my 20 page Death Star Critique…

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Are Musical Themes different from Written Themes?

There I sat at this concert of classical music and opera. It was the symphony that interested me – Don Juan by Richard Strauss.

Here’s what I was able to make out. Each section had one or two main themes. They were both stated at different times in their entirety. Then another tertiary theme came in for a short while. Themes one and two played games with the third. The original theme interrupted the tertiary in bits and pieces. The secondary did the same thing. After a while the original was brought back again, faster or slower than the first time. The original theme was also bantered about by each section of the orchestra.

Can this idea be useful in writing? Can we have two themes play with each other and a third, the common connection between them all? Has anyone tried this?

Please comment. I am here to learn.

How I Got Here

I have always been a curious person. As a child I was always asking questions. My father said I must have been vaccinated with a phonograph needle. He had a weird sense of humor. Yes, I said phonograph not even eight track. I am that old.

I was a musician first. i studied piano for a number of years, loved it and even won a competition in my age group, twelve years old. Then I studied voice – something I continued most of my life. I had a nice career singing opera and I got to perform with many of the famous singers of those years.

I came to writing just a few years ago and have worked hard to learn the craft. I have one first draft of a novel that needs a revision and a second novel with the first draft almost complete.

The other night I was at a concert and I found myself listening in a completely new way. I tried to figure out why I tensed at times. Why did I sigh with relief other times? What was happening in the music that I reacted to and how could it help me go deeper in my writing and/or help with the revision process.

I am not an expert. I merely want to explore this new experience. If anyone has comments on this idea I would love to hear them.