Novel Structure

There’s a lot more to a novel than a beginning, middle and end. Each of those structural elements needs to achieve something very specific, and they’ve go to work together, each part building on the next.

This story structure diagram is an overview of that process and how everything fits together.

Novel Structure Diagram

If you find this diagram helpful, please let me know by leaving a comment, tweeting about it, or directing people here. If you think its missing something I’m keen to hear that too.

Please feel free to print it out for your personal use, link to it, and generally let people know about it, but please don’t post it on other sites. Thanks!

If you like this and need further help with your stories, you might like to consider a Manuscript Assessment through Creative Manuscript Services.

18 thoughts on “Novel Structure

  1. I said a while back, if I got an idea for a new story, I would use your outline process. True to my word, I got an idea for a story. It would have been a failed story, if I hadn’t used your outline. I was forced to think about it logically. Now, I’ve gone through quite a few of your post links and ended up here.

    I’ve been bad, Chris! Very bad, indeed! I stole your image above and used it as a desktop picture, so I will have it to refer to. I promise (imagine hand over heart and hand on bible) I will not use it for anything but a desktop reference for my writing.

  2. I, however, have a problem. Maybe it’s something with my story, because aparently I got lost somewhere near the midpoint. I don’t even know what my midpoint should be – I have three options. The first one is when the MC lose something very important to their current situation, the second is when a serious fight emerges after finding a seemingly important clue, the third is when a background character dies because of one of the MCs.
    I don’t know, could you give me some more details about all the parts below the midpoint, so I can figure out this situation of mine?

    • Hi Agata.
      The midpoint is essentially a turning point for the character on an emotional level – they go from resistance to acceptance. Another way to look at it is that they come to realise that the only way they’re going to get through things is to take action and move forward. If one of your story points does that for the character, then that’s probably your midpoint. Sometimes it’s the point of no return, and the character comes to realise this. It’s the tipping point in the story.

      • Thank you for your response, Chris.
        After reading your description, I can find ANOTHER scene that might serve as a midpoint. It just bothers me that it’s very early in the story and it kinda ruins the composition you’d established. I’ll have to think about it 😛

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