About the Post

Author Information

Creativity coach, writing and creative process instructor, speaker, author of Around the Writer's Block: Using Brain Science to Write the Way You Want (Penguin/Tarcher 2012) and Dancing in the Dragon's Den (Red Wheel Weiser), Teaching Artist at the Loft Literary Center.

New Book Update: Creating Freedom from Structure

creative options canstockphoto15229827I love possibilities. I prefer to keep my options open. Too much structure makes me feel like I’m straightjacketed. (I’m an NP on the MBTI if you know what I mean).

But I’m imposing structure as I revise my novel and still enjoying creative spontaneity. I never imagined that so much freedom could come from structure.

Since I decided to add a new POV character, Katy (previous posts explain why), I’ve dreamstormed scenes featuring her. Some of the scene cards I wrote from the dreamstorming followed one narrative option, others followed a different option.

When I reviewed the structure of all the scene cards in the novel, I saw which of Kat’s scenes cards to use and where to put them.

Now I get to draft the new scenes without worrying about writing myself into a corner or rambling all over the place in search of what happens. In a weird way, organizing and structuring the scene cards gives me more creative freedom as I draft.

Where I Needed More Options

locations give characters options I had a nagging sense that Kat’s scenes were always in the same two locations. So I forced myself to list alternative settings for each scene. This challenge has paid off already and I just finished drafting Kat’s second scene.

Pushing myself to identify alternative settings before I start drafting is particularly useful because when I know where the characters are, I can give them things to do while they talk. (Dialogue is easy for me and re-imagining the dialogue I heard when I dreamstormed the scene is how I usually “get into” drafting a scene.)

Characters’ actions reveal nonverbal communication that can compliment or contradict their actual words.

The first time I drafted Kat’s second scene, I put the characters in a laundromat. Instead of writing “Kat looked away” I could write “Kat bent over to pull clothes from the washer.” Because the second option is more specific, it helps readers see what I want them to see.

If I want to show Kat’s reluctance to tell her father something, I could write, “‘It’s not a big deal,’ Kat said as she bent over to pull clothes from the washer.”

If I want to increase the embarrassment Kat feels that caused her to turn away without telling the reader “Kat was embarrassed” (*snooze*), I can show “Kate bent over to pull her bras and panties out of the washer before her father could see the new sexy stuff she’d bought to wear for Daniel.”

In my next post, I show you how exploring options like moving the scene from the laundromat to a park helps scenes evolve and why I write scenes in the order they appear in the novel. If you’re intrigued with how you might draft or revise a novel or memoir at the level of scenes, take a look at my new online Loft class starting October 27.

Tags: , , , , ,

4 Comments on “New Book Update: Creating Freedom from Structure”

  1. Joel D Canfield October 9, 2014 at 9:04 pm #

    I’m curious: does the post title mean “creating freedom by not having structure” or does it mean “creating freedom out of structure” or is it intentionally ambiguous?


    • rosannebane October 10, 2014 at 9:03 pm #

      Hi Joel, I originally intended creating freedom from imposing structure, and when I recognized the ambiguity in the title, I liked it and left it ambiguous. Thanks for noticing.



  1. Random Scene Generator: 10 Steps to Solve the “I don’t know what to write” Problem | The Bane of Your Resistance - October 23, 2014

    […] overwriting scenes that ultimately don’t go anywhere. I learned the hard way that there are more effective ways to write a novel than just sitting down, cranking out words and hoping for the […]


  2. New Book Update: Structure Gives Writing Freedom to Evolve | The Bane of Your Resistance - October 15, 2014

    […] previous post introduced the paradox that imposing structure as I revise my novel gives me more creative freedom. […]


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: