In my post called Target My Structure, I talked about how Stuart Horwitz’s book Blueprint Your Bestseller is helping me organize my memoir.
One of the most important steps of structuring a book, according to Horwitz, is to identify the series in your book. As I mentioned in that post, “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.”
There is no set number of series a book should have, but 12 is a reasonable number. By happenstance, I have 12 series. Most of mine have to do with emotions, which is something that surprised me a great deal. I like imagery and metaphorical language, so I kind of thought I would find series with certain central metaphors or images. But when I did find iterations (repetitions) of an image, I would see that the image fit squarely within certain emotions that repeat throughout the book.
For instance, the image of a gun shows up in several scenes. In one scene, it’s a rifle. In another, it’s a pistol. In yet another, it’s a shotgun. But what is more important than the guns is that they represent the emotions fear and anger. Fear and anger are represented in different ways in many scenes. Guns are just one way they manifest themselves. But these emotions also show up in verbal arguments, physical abuse, and hiding/secrecy.
Once I had a list of my scenes in hand, I noticed that they correspond fairly well to the major emotions as identified by Pia Mellody.
I also have a few other series in addition to these emotions, but I might add a 13th. And it would be called THERAPISTS ;).