Novel Revision Series: Dramatic Structure & Narrative Drive
Narrative drive is without doubt one of the most important ingredients in a successful novel. To the degree that it’s absent, the story will fail. The ability to keep the pages turning is a kind of subterranean magic, in fact, a sorcerer’s skill for which most aspiring novelists would trade everything but their souls. But what exactly is narrative drive, and how can a writer achieve it? How does one write a sustained narrative that can’t be put down, and also leaves a reader intellectually and emotionally satisfied? In this discussion-based craft workshop, we’ll look at the sources of dramatic tension and conflict and discuss ways to incorporate it more fully into our works in progress.
Then we’ll turn to the related concept of dramatic structure, which, by endowing a work with urgency, shape, and meaning, is also essential for a successful novel. We’ll ask ourselves questions such as: Do your scenes having turning points? Does your novel have an inciting incident? How does it relate to your climax and resolution? Does your novel have progressive complications? Can it be divided into a beginning, a middle, and an end? The answers to these and related questions, along with several graphic outlining exercises designed to help you understand the strengths and weaknesses of your novel’s dramatic structure, will provide a practical road map for writers to embark on a new revision of a novel in progress.
Students should bring a 3-10 page synopsis of their novel in progress.
Part of GrubStreet's Novel Revision Series, led by Tim Weed and designed for those who have either finished or are nearing completion of a novel draft. Take every class in the series or simply choose the craft topics that are relevant to the revision challenges you face with your novel in progress. Classes include:
- Novel Revision Series: Killer Openings & Symphonic Endings
- Novel Revision Series: Sentence-Level Music
- Novel Revision Series: Zeroing in on Genre and Theme
- Novel Revision Series: Dramatic Structure & Narrative Drive
- Novel Revision Series: Descriptive Writing & Image Systems
- Novel Revision Series: Interiority, Backstory & Flashback
- Novel Revision Series: Point of View & Psychic Distance
- Novel Revision Series: Dialogue & the Scene
- Novel Revision Series: Minor & Supporting Characters
Previous Students Say
- "Lots of Practical Tips"
- "Very Well-Organized"
- "Inundated with Great Info"
- Class Discussion
- In-Class Reading
- Instructor Feedback
- In-Class Writing
- The Novel