Blueprint of a Novel: The End

This is the third and final installment of my series on blueprinting.

Last week I talked about how to blueprint the beginning of your novel. Earlier this week, I went over the middle. Now we’ve reached the end.

The end needs to carry the weight of the story and deliver it a rightful end. As I encountered in this year’s NaNoWriMo, if your story doesn’t develop powerful emotion within the first three acts, your ending will fall flat.

If you find yourself in that situation, it’s best to take a bit of a break from your MS. Then go back and start revising your first three acts. Your ending won’t come together until the rest of your story has the emotion to back it up.

If it’s hard for you to revise a yet unfinished MS, think of it this way: If you work on your ending now, you will struggle, the story will frustrate you, and you will not write anything of significance. Without a solid foundation, you cannot build the roof.

Once you have that solid foundation, you can work on your ending.

Act Four (Part Four): Conclusion

The Conclusion is very open, so all I have to offer you are a few guidelines from Larry’s post:

  • The hero must be the one to save the day.
  • The hero must have conquered his inner demons in order to do so.
  • The hero must exhibit traits worthy of a hero.

Sources and further reading:

Each Act, or Part, is roughly a quarter of the entire novel. If you plan out each of the milestones listed here, you’ll have a good idea of where your story needs to go. Following this blueprint will help you write a better-structured first draft and help you down the road to publication.

If you don’t like blueprinting, or find it leaves too many blank spaced for you to fill in later, try Randy Ingermanson’s Snowflake Method to generate a detailed outline of your entire novel. Though Randy uses different terminology, you’ll find he follows the same structure of this blueprint.

That concludes my series on blueprinting, a summarized version of Larry Brooks’ 10-part Story Structure Series. If you like the information I laid out here, I highly recommend you read the original blog posts and many other over at Story Fix, especially if you would like to see examples of this blueprint at work.

How do you plan your story, pre-writing? Do you outline or blueprint? What method works best for you?


About Squishy

Writer, dancer, gamer, and admirer of all that is beautiful.

Posted on December 23, 2010, in Ishy Writes! and tagged , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 2 Comments.

  1. Great series on blueprinting. I hadn’t heard of it until now, but I like it and might give it a shot the next time I have to plan something–especially a novel.

    I usually start with a scene or situation–much like the flash fiction you’ve been writing–and just start thinking. Between conversations with others and just thinking a great deal, a plot starts to emerge, and when I think I’m on to something, I start writing to try it out. This often results in dead ends, plot holes, and characters that change almost as drastically as Dr. Jekyl into Mr. Hyde, but it’s somewhere to start.

    What method do you typically use?

    • I hadn’t heard of blueprinting either until I read Larry’s blog. I quite like the concept, so I’m happy to be able to share it, I hope it works out well for you!

      As for my methodology, I usually get my ideas as you described. I’ve tried several ways to make the jump from idea to novel: narrating before writing, pantsing, planning each scene (a la Snowflake Method), and now blueprinting. My favorites so far have been narrating and blueprinting, though I haven’t yet written my blueprinted novel.

      Pantsing tends to lead to the Jekyl/Hyde syndrome you mentioned, in plot as well as characters (though pantsing a narration is rather fun). Intense planning made me tire of the story before even writing it. I like blueprinting because it’s a close balance between the two.

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