Book review time! I’m excited to sing the praises of author K.M Weiland of Helping Authors Become Writers. If you have not visited her site go now, especially if you are a writer. I’ve read two of her books, with a third in queue. Today I’m going to give my thoughts on Structuring Your Novel and her dieselpunk novel Storming.
This book is transformative.
I bought it last summer to help prepare my Robin Hood retelling, Mercy and Justice. I also bought the workbook which I used extensively in planning out the characters, events, details, plot points, everything. What I loved about K.M Weiland’s book is that it is an easy read, filled with great examples from film and literature, and walks you step by step through how to structure your novel.
It was during the reading of the book that I realized that my first novel, Chrysalis, was unsound and would need to be restructured. But Nanowrimo was coming so I focused on my goal: preparing Mercy and Justice.
Writing the first half of Mercy and Justice was a breeze compared to writing Chrysalis. It helped that I had learned a lot about style since my first attempt at writing, but having a strong structure made the writing flow. I knew where I was going and what had to be accomplished in each scene.
In December I finished the first half of Mercy and Justice and decided to go back to revising Chrysalis. I have been dutifully working on it the last three months, not by re-writing any words, but by going through the workbook, thinking through the questions, exploring different possibilities, rearranging the scenes so that they fall into the right plot and pinch points.
I finished that last weekend, so once I create the scene chart for my story I can rewrite it! Even though nothing has been altered in the manuscript, the story is much stronger. I was surprised by how the structure workbook impacted the story, especially the last half, but I am also thrilled with it
Whether you want to prep or evaluate your novel, this book is an excellent option. In addition to reading this, I would suggest that you read through her Character Arc series on her blog. I found those to be incredibly helpful and go to a deeper level of structuring your work.
I am probably not the most objective reviewer of this book. I’m not a huge fan of Steampunk and Dieselpunk has even less of an appeal. But I bought the book as a way to support Ms. Weiland who has given so much to the writing community.
And I’m glad I did. I enjoyed reading it. The protagonist, Hitch, is fun and has a hilarious outlook on the world. I enjoyed Jael who started out with a nice touch of mysteriousness. The concept was interesting and engaging, and the structure was solid. (No surprise there.)
It’s a fun book. If you enjoy small town life of the 1920’s you may well love this book. Despite being well written and having a solid cast I don’t think it has won me over to the dieselpunk genre, but it was worth the read.
There were several things I really respected about the piece:
- Walter. I loved his character. His narrative was one of my favorite perspectives.
- The brave, brutal, and unexpected death of a character.
- Hitch’s journey. When you first meet Hitch flying in the sky his positive outlook and charm makes you think he’s a great guy. As you learn more about him, you realize…not so much. It’s not all his fault, but…he had a lot to do with his issues. But as the story progresses he becomes the man you think he is in the opening chapter.
I had a couple of issues: the plot felt dragged on past necessity in the second half, especially in the third act (even though all the points were in the right places), and I thought that the reveal was held off too long from the reader. It made sense that Hitch didn’t know it until it was told him, but I eventually got annoyed by the repeated hints that there was a secret without the information.
Other than that a fun read. I am looking forward to reading her next book which drops a superhero somewhere in history.