Monday, July 9, 2012

Deconstructing The Greats

Writers will often wonder "what's next?" when they are writing. They will wonder how to get from Point A to Point B. It's really those "middle chapters" that nag at them the most. I say: Deconstruct The Greats! Confused? Well, think of your top three authors. Go ahead, I'll wait right here while you do it. You can write them down if that helps. In fact, a notebook will be helpful in this situation.
Next, start writing down the books you love most from those authors. For the sake of this exercise, I'm going to assume you already own the books you're thinking of. Next comes the deconstruction part. Write down each chapter number, leaving about five blank spaces between each new chapter number. Now comes the fun part: Re-read that book. At the end of each chapter, use that blank space to write bullet points for each chapter. Take, for example, Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone. If you were to write bullet points for the first chapter you might end up with:
- Introduction to the Dursley's
- Strange things happen to the Dursley's on that particular day
- A wizard (Dumbledor) appears at their house and has a conversation with another Wizard about events preceding the book
- Baby Harry is left with the Dursley's

So on and so forth. Now, if you do this for the entire book you've chosen, you begin to see the roadmap they took to tell a story. You have, essentially, their outline. The more books you do this for, the more you will understand fully how to cobble together an outline of your own. If the bullet points you make for a chapter for a book you are writing bore you, then writing the chapter out will likely bore you and, in turn, will bore the reader, too. Remember: It is your mission to make the experience as memorable as possible. You can do it!

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