(Spidey) Sense of Structure

Writing can get easier. I won’t say that it does, because every writer has a different journey, but it can.

The good news, I’ve recently developed a strong sense of novel structure. The bad news, it’s still almost entirely intuitive rather than conscious. The worse news, it took 10 books. The better news, it seems to be shifting into a conscious process as I’m writing number 11.

I’ve had a pretty good handle on how to plot since my fourth book—the first three are decently-plotted, but it was a messy organic process. But I didn’t fully develop this structural sense until writing number 10, The Black School, + 30 or more outlines. I got inklings of it with number 8, Chalice, but it mostly blinked out for 9, Cybermancy. And now I’m occasionally managing to consciously invoke it for 11, MythOS.

This is a pretty typical development process for me in terms of learning how to do something in writing:

1. Consciously set out to learn how to do X
2. Beat my head against the wall on X
3. Lose track of the fact that I’m trying to learn X
4. Get compliments about how well I’m handling X
5. Notice that X makes sense to me intuitively—it tastes right*
6. Think about how I’m doing X
7. Bafflement
8. Forget that I’m thinking about how I’m doing X
9. Answer someone’s question about X and realize I now get it
2013 Updated to add:
10. Forget that I ever didn’t know how to do X
11. Forget how to explain X
12. Grrrrr

*Tastes right. I’ll talk about this in some depth with my next post.

(Originally published on the Wyrdsmiths blog March 15 2007, and original comments may be found there. Reposted and reedited as part of the reblogging project. In and effort to elicit comment at the old site, I wrote the bit that follows at the end. No response. This is one of the many reasons I have not enabled comments here at kellymccullough.com)

Thoughts? Arguments? Digressions? Large purple groundhogs?