Editing Tip #77 – Structuring Your Book

Tudor Barker (Creative Commons)

Tudor Barker (Creative Commons)

You place the words “The End” on your manuscript and you’re ready to begin self-editing. Besides setting your work aside for a while to gain some distance from it (and hopefully a fresh perspective), it’s time to analyze the bones – its structure.

I know of a writer who wrote his book and then realized that a 3rd person narrative didn’t suit the content properly – so he changed it to 1st person. Upon rereading the 1st person version he came to realize that really, his story wasn’t a thriller – it should be a comedy (a rather dark, tongue-in-cheek type of comedy but humorous nonetheless).

He overhauled his manuscript 3 times in as many months!

Now, I’m not saying you’re going to have to alter the structure of your work to that degree (or even at all) but you need to be aware of the best possible way to tell your story – and know that it might not be the way you first wrote it.

Sometimes if you started by writing your novel from only one character’s perspective, later you’ll realize that adding another one or more perspectives will deepen the story…

That might mean going in and adding a few more “soft breaks” per chapter that coincide with the new voice


that might mean changing the perspective of an entire series of chapters to alternate character voices.

What about after having written the entire book in the past tense you realize that in order to gain the closeness and immediacy you need with both the main character and her story that you now have to change everything to the present tense… it happens.


You’ve finished your memoir and suddenly you realize that throughout the whole book you’re “telling” your story and while this worked great for your blog which has brought you a ton of followers and potential readers you know it’s missing something… you need to convert at least one major story per chapter into a piece of creative-nonfiction since your life isn’t just about your blog it’s also about your novel writing.

The point is you need to critically look at the book you’ve written and honestly decide if the way you currently have it structured is the absolute best way to tell your story.

Don’t “settle” for what’s there simply because you think it’s too much work – this is your masterpiece… show us why.

Happy Editing 😀

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Categories: Editing

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2 replies

  1. Very useful post (as always!). I finished the first draft of my memoir back in August and have been sitting on it ever since. I feel I need to go back to it with a fresh perspective and re-structuring in one of the ways you’ve mentioned above is certainly on the cards, even though I don’t yet know what the way forward is. I’ve been thinking about it for the last few days, so this post is timely and relevant. Thank you!


  2. You’re most welcome! One of the best pieces of advice I think I could give you right now would be to look at other published memoirs to see which structuring styles most appeal to you – and it’ll make for some great reading in the mean time 😀


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