I’ve mentioned before that I have had many problems structuring my book. With 200,000 words of memoir already written, I was overwhelmed and confused about how best to structure the story. What to leave in and what to take out. Whether to organize chronologically or thematically.
In following Horwitz’ plan, some of the first steps include identifying all the series in your book. You can’t know this until you have enough scenes written. So if you don’t have 50,000 or more words, I would just write out your scenes first. Then find all your series. A series is anything that has “iterations.” Repetitions, a pattern. But not just any pattern–a pattern where the series “undergoes a clear evolution.” It happens or shows up more than once and changes a bit? It’s probably a series.
Series can be symbols or metaphors like the hat that Holden wears in Catcher in the Rye. They can be characters, objects, phrases, settings, absolutely anything. When I worked on this aspect, I was shocked to discover that many of my series are emotions, such as anger, fear, and shame. Of course, these emotions don’t exist by themselves. They are represented by tangible events or objects, such as locked rooms and guns.
In another early step in this method, I discovered the “One Thing” my book is about. Horwitz took me on a sure path to find this out through a step by step process.
Every time I work on a new step I experience an epiphany about my book.
This past week I accomplished the next step. I created a target for my book, putting my “One Thing” in the center bullseye location. Then I placed post-it notes representing scenes (pink), series (yellow), characters (blue), and settings (green) on the board. Horwitz says, “The trick of the exercise is to put the narrative element closer to or farther from the bull’s-eye, or theme, depending on the strength of the relationship.” Doing this project, allowed me to see that certain scenes and settings were too far removed, whereas there is a close-knit relationship between everything else.
Caveat: I have so many scenes that I did not place all my scenes on the board. It would have been impossible. I expect to weed out scenes in the next step of the process.
The architecture method is supposed to work with any book, no matter the genre.