The Structure of Your Novel Checklist

Part of the Writing a Novel and Getting Published For Dummies Cheat Sheet

The structure is the backbone of a book: beneath the surface, it holds everything together and imposes order on the flow. Without a coherent and logical structure, the novel’s key elements are unclear.

You may need to play around with the structure before you feel it’s right. Don’t be afraid to experiment! The process helps to refine your thoughts about other aspects of the book, and the message you’re trying to get across.

Ask yourself the following questions:

  • Are the chapters linked and do they flow?

  • Does the story fall broadly into three acts?

  • Is the general direction of the story ‘up’?

  • Is the tension intensifying, the emotional temperature rising, the level of danger increasing, the pain deepening, the likelihood of things going wrong nearing?

  • Are the promises you made to the reader through foreshadowing kept?

  • Are all the plots and subplots relevant?

  • Can you sum up your story in a sentence? Can a reader?

  • Is your first sentence or paragraph a grabber?

  • Does the story start in the right place? Starting too early means the beginning will be dull; start too late and the story won’t make sense.

  • Does every sentence serve a purpose? Does it advance the plot, explain character or create atmosphere? (Ideally, all three!) If it does none of these, what’s your justification for keeping it?

  • Does every scene have a purpose? Does it advance the story? If not, why is it there?

  • Does every chapter end in a way that makes the reader want to turn the page?

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Writing a Novel and Getting Published For Dummies Cheat Sheet

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