Engage Readers with Structure

Engage Readers with Structure

Create stories that resonate with multiple viewpoints, main plot, subplots, and theme. Engage readers with structure using the Story Spine and Global Story Beats.

Story Spine

Like the simple but strong framework on which sculptors form clay, engage readers with structure using the strength of an eight-step Story Spine to shape your story.

Global Story Beats

To further develop your story, the Story Beats serve as a large walk-in closet, perfect for organizing the complexities and nuances of your novel.

  • The beats divide the closet into logical sections.
  • The scenes serve as hangers within those sections.


The right software, such as Scrivener, makes it easy to edit and rearrange your scenes.

  • As you write, choose where to hang your content.
  • As you edit, rearrange your scenes to enhance the story.

Character Viewpoints and Conflicts

The inner stories of characters influence their viewpoints of people and events. The main plot and subplots bring together characters with differing viewpoints, and that generates conflicts.

Think of it this way:

  • Differences in viewpoints create conflicts—the mainstay of engaging fiction.
  • Story structure helps the main plot and subplots surface character viewpoints, resulting in conflicts that can enhance your story.

Main Plots and Subplots

Each subplot is like a subway train that follows a set of tracks laid by a character’s viewpoint. Subplots may run parallel with the primary plot or diverge onto a side rail for a related branch of the story. Occasionally within the story, one or more subplots meet up with the mainline at a major hub in the subway system.

To write with multiple viewpoints may seem like a daunting task, but with a bit of elbow grease and the right technology, it’s not only doable but fun.

Develop Multiple Viewpoints

Use structure to develop multiple viewpoints:

  • Pick Your Best Characters: Consider which characters can best drive the narrative for each beat. When there are multiple scenes within the beat, decide whether to use one character or more. For example:
    • If you have six scenes in the SETUP portion of Global Story Beats, choose how many characters will drive the narrative.
    • Decide which characters and their conflicts can emphasize the story’s theme.
  • Arrange by Main Plot and Subplots: Let the primary character associated with a plot or subplot control the narrative.
    • When you arrive at a juncture of main plot and a subplot, typically the protagonist controls the narrative, but not always.
    • You can use the viewpoint of the chief antagonist or a secondary protagonist to engage readers with an unexpected twist.
  • Mix the Methods: Weave unique character personalities and plot events to increase reader engagement.

The weaving of multiple viewpoints with main plot and subplots is useful to enhance reader engagement, but too much complexity can distract readers from your story.

Structure Opportunities

Engage readers with multiple character viewpoints in a variety of genres, including romance, thriller, and mystery.

  • Define the structure with Story Beats to track those viewpoints.
  • Use software to set where the main plot and subplots run parallel, diverge, and cross.

For example, you can:

  • Create separate outlines for your main plot and subplots based on the Story Beats structure.
  • Use Scrivener’s Corkboard to arrange scenes based on multiple character viewpoints.
  • Use Custom Metadata and Keywords as you write to identify essential elements for tracking and editing.

Unlike Microsoft Word and Apple Pages, Scrivener software allows you to establish and track multiple viewpoints along with your main plot and subplots.

To learn more, read Exploring How to Structure a Book.

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