Plot structure. Beginning, middle and end, right? Except of course it’s not that simple. And for somebody who’s best ideas tend to come spontaneously, it can be hard too. I go where my imagination takes me.

I’ve known for a long time that structure is a weak point of mine. My first book was basically three largely distinct stories that coincidentally had the same set of characters. I didn’t plan it that way. In fact I had no plan. It was just the way the novel evolved. There was a beginning, middle and end structure in there somewhere, but it was bogged down by a multitude of flimsy sub-plots, superfluous characters and unresolved motivations.

Kameron Hurley said that her first published book (after eight failed attempts) was also her best plotted one. Coincidence?

Sometimes, no matter how much you know you should do something, it needs to be presented in a particular way for it to click. In this case, it was reading about the seven point story structure. It made sense in a way other methods never did. I tested my latest novel against this structure and realized just how poorly paced it was.

So, I’ve since spent a lot of time chopping and changing several sections of the story to make it tighter. It’s certainly better for it, but I’m seeing a whole lot of things in a new light now, and more changes are needed. More than I would ever have contemplated before.

And the worst part of the process? Entire sections of the story, which on their own represent some of my best writing, are now under threat. I’m having to fight the urge to keep them regardless, to shoehorn parts of them into other chapters.

I know, I know. It’s just part of the editing process. But surely it can be mitigated with some careful planning beforehand? Well, I’m going to find out soon enough. As much as I might be a “pantser” writer, my next project is going to be a fresh learning experience. I’m going to have a plan. A detailed outline. Character motivations that aren’t made up on the spot!

Heck, I might even write the ending first.