How to Structure a Novel

I love reading novels, the more fantastical the better. There’s nothing like becoming completely immersed in another world and its characters.

As a writer though, I know this isn’t as easy to achieve as it sounds.

Key to drawing readers into a novel is its structure.

How do you create a good novel structure?

To come up with a good novel structure, you need to establish your trigger points.  

These are the turning points, the major moments that shape your story. They are events that will deeply affect the behaviour and attitude of the main character, and should pique your reader’s interest and urge them to read more.

Generally speaking, each novel should contain the following turning points:

  1. The hook – Begin your story with a strong hook, a line, a question, an event, which immediately sets the scene for the novel and the protagonist’s current situation, and is interesting enough to convince the reader to keep going.
  2. The inciting event – This is the start of the conflict, the change in the reality, or what is different about the day you have started your book. The stakes need to be high for the main protagonist in the first chapter.
  3. Progress – This is where ‘the choice’ is made which will change the course of the main character’s life, and they make progress towards their goal or new path.
  4. The setbacks – A great story has more than one twist. At best, it needs at least three significant setbacks, which will keep the main character swimming in conflict throughout the novel.
  5. The midpoint – this is often in the form of a twist or when everything seems to go wrong or threaten the protagonist. This may involve a moment of character for the main character.
  6. The final confrontation – The part which the whole story leads to, the point where the main character resolves their conflict or there is some resolution of another kind. This is followed by a wrap-up or aftermath of the situation.

Knowing what the trigger points are in your novel will help you structure a novel that urges the reader to keep going.