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The Complete Handbook of Novel Writing, 3rd Edition by Writer's Digest Writer's Digest Editors

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Chapter Seven

The Two Pillars of Novel Structure

How to Build a Sturdy Platform for Your Story

James Scott Bell

Structure is translation software for your imagination.

You, the writer, have a story you want to tell. You feel it, see it, populate it with characters. But turning all that raw material into a novel isn’t simply a matter of putting it into words on a page or screen. You have to “translate” it into a form that readers can relate to.

That’s what structure does. And if you ignore it or mess with it, you risk frustrating—or worse, losing—readers.

I was amused many years ago when a writing teacher of some repute shouted in front of an auditorium that there was no such thing as structure. He went on and on about this. Later, when I looked ...

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