How to structure your novel - Authors A.I.

Alessandra Torre
March 11, 2024

In a recent First Draft Friday, I was joined by Jim Woods, a full-time writer with seven years of experience who shared his passion for coaching writers and helping them finish their books. We talked about a fun, simple way to structure your book and how to create a compelling story that draws in the reader.

Here are some key takeaways from our discussion:

Starting the writing process:

  • Woods stressed the importance of asking thought-provoking questions at the beginning of the writing journey. “What if?” questions, illustrated by examples like “Jaws” or “Star Wars,” can be powerful in unleashing creativity.

Discovering your writing style:

  • Woods encourages writers to identify their strengths, suggesting that beginners reflect on past projects to understand what works well for them. He advocates for playing to one’s strengths rather than adhering rigidly to predefined writing structures.

Learning from favorite books:

  • Analyzing favorite books on one’s bookshelves can offer valuable lessons in structure. Woods recommends examining the genre, opening chapters, and overall structure to gain insights into effective storytelling.

Story structure:

  • Woods introduces the concept of the four-act structure, emphasizing the significance of the midpoint. The midpoint acts as a turning point in the story with a significant change and driving the narrative forward.

Chapter structure:

  • Addressing a question on necessary beats in a chapter, Woods highlights the importance of conflict, emphasizing that without conflict, there is no story. He encourages writers to focus on creating chapters with a clear beginning, middle, and end, tailored to the specific genre.


  • Woods recognizes the diversity in outlining approaches, urging writers to experiment and find what works best for them. Whether it’s a detailed outline before writing or outlining after the initial draft to improve the story, he emphasizes the need to discover individual preferences.

Midpoint and Chekhov’s gun:

  • The midpoint should be a pivotal moment that changes the course of the story. Woods advises writers to aim for the midpoint, allowing it to add depth and purpose to the narrative.
  • Woods references Chekhov’s gun, a narrative principle that says every setup should have a corresponding payoff in the story. Setting up elements within the narrative should lead to resolutions or consequences, contributing to a satisfying reader experience.

Character setups and payoffs:

  • Woods uses the example of introducing characters or conflicts in the story. Each setup must have a purpose and a subsequent payoff, ensuring a cohesive and engaging storytelling experience.
  • Addressing loose ends, he suggests that leaving some open-ended aspects can be intriguing for readers, as long as it aligns with the story’s plausibility and fits the characters’ intelligence.

It was a great discussion, one you won’t want to miss! Click below to watch our 30-minute recording and hear the questions we answered from the live audience. Keep scrolling if you’d prefer to read the transcript.

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Alessandra Torre: All right, everybody, this is First Draft Friday. I am your host, Alessandra Torre. And today we are joined by Jim Woods. And we are going to be talking all about creating a structure for your story and what that process looks like and what that process means. So I’m excited. As you guys know, I am coming to you from Authors AI. We have an artificial intelligence that helps you improve your novel and find ways to make it better. So if you haven’t checked us out, please visit So let’s dive right in. Jim, do you want to introduce yourself to the audience? 

Jim Woods: Sure. I’m Jim Woods. I’m a writer. I’ve been doing this full time for the last seven years. Actually just finished up my first novel. I’m in the proof stage here. It’s called Bite the Bullet. So I have this, like, almost legit copy of my book. I’ve co-written a few books and I’ve worked with other authors. I love being a writing coach and just, you know, helping writers finish their book. That’s one of my real passions. That’s a little bit about me. 

Alessandra Torre: Across multiple genres. Or do you mostly stick to a certain genre? 

Jim Woods: I. A lot of self-help productivity because I need it. So, you know, but I’ve worked in a lot of different genres as well as health, productivity, health, all that’s so combined together. But yeah, I, I, I really, I, you know, any good story, that’s, that’s where I’m going. And with even, like, the nonfiction stuff that’s helping me create better stories. So, you’ll, you’ll hear me say story so many times. That’s my real passion. 

Alessandra Torre: Yeah, I love that. And it is great. The best nonfiction tells stories. I mean, so that’s the few that I’ve been able to really, get through and love because I’m horrible about setting down a book. Now, our audience is almost all fiction, but, so but I’ll be curious to see, to see what you have to share with us today. So tell us what you’re going to be talking about. You’re gonna be talking about story structure. What does that mean? And when will they go through what we’re talking about? 

Jim Woods: Yeah. Story structure is really just building your story. And I don’t have like super clear definitions for everything. I don’t think that’s fair to do that. But just I’m going to pretend that I’m talking to a coaching client. That’s what I’m doing. Each of you. even though you’re not here with me. So let’s just start at the very beginning. Like the very, very beginning, okay? You’re saying, hey, I want to write a book. Okay? What next? Right. We’ve all been there, and I’m sure a lot of you, just like me, start writing a book and you’re like, no, I didn’t like this. I’m going to do something else. This other thing, I have no idea. 

Alessandra Torre: It’s an exciting idea over here. Right. 

Jim Woods: Right. And I think we all are in that boat. We’re all together as creators in that. So let’s just say, okay, where you’re at the very, very beginning stages. I think that great questions are what fuel great stories. So a few questions that come to mind immediately for me are What if? What if a killer shark was on the loose? Jaws. Hello? What if we had a soap opera in space? I mean, that is literally what George Lucas was thinking. And then, you know, he combined in some Joseph Campbell, obviously, with Hero’s Journey. But when you start asking “Well, what if?,” I feel like that’s like, you know, opening the magical box and then you can start really like getting somewhere. You can just start playing and, exploring in that stage. And one that’s always inspired me is like, what’s a book you really want to read? I remember even my own in my own, like my own novel, Bite the Bullet. I was like I was wandering around the bookstore and I couldn’t find a book that I really wanted to read. I was like, I don’t see it. I better write it, you know? And I think that the questions are so key. Maybe it’s what upsets you. What really gets you excited? What? What’s something you love? Maybe even what’s something you hate? I think, to a degree. But then you can spin that more positive and, you know, pull it more toward the love side, because nobody wants to read a rant per se, in book form. 

Alessandra Torre: But there are things we love to hate, right? Like, yeah, yeah, like I love a really bad villain, but one that I’m rooting for. Like, I hate to root for the villain and I hate to be torn between the two, but that’s what makes the book great, you know? 

Jim Woods: Yeah. And I think, like when you said that, I think of immediately, like Walter White and Breaking Bad, where it’s like you’re cheering for this really awful guy. And what does that say about the writers when they have you cheering for this terrible character? And you’re like, oh, it’s okay. He killed a bad guy. Bad guy. He was worse than this guy, you know? And I just feel like questions are the story seed. Like you start, you start asking the right questions. That idea in your head can start to just blossom. And before you know it, you’re building that book. I do think that it’s so easy to fall into the trap of saying, hey, you must write a book this way, and I think you have to play to your strengths. And if you’re a new writer, say you’re writing a novel and you’re like, never done this before. I don’t know what my strengths are. I get it, I do, but I think you can still, like, lean back on past projects and say, ooh, what did I do? It worked really well here, you know? And it doesn’t it doesn’t have to be a writing project. 

Jim Woods: But when you like, start figuring out, OK, I’m really good at. Maybe short pieces. Writing a novel sounds a little counter, you know, counterintuitive. It’s like, well, I fall into that boat. Frankly, I’m a minimalist. It’s like writing a novel. Well, maybe you should write short stories. And that could be like, oh, what if I take some short stories and weave them together and, you know, it becomes a novel. Yeah. And I’ll tell you, one thing I’ve learned over the years is, like your favorite books. There’s almost always so much you can learn in your favorite books. So just like in that exploratory phase of, okay, I’m writing a novel or a nonfiction or whatever you’re writing, it’s a book. Go through your bookshelves and start picking apart. Like if you can narrow down the genre, that will help you a ton. But even if you don’t know, like start exploring your bookshelves and start like, well, why do I like this book? How is that book structured? And I think we can learn so much from that. It’s like if you. All the books that you’re picking up have, like, you know, that kind of antagonist as the main character, you know, the Walter White or, you know, some gritty villain, really you’re that’s probably what you’re going to want to do in your novel. I mean, you’re not going to write, you know, The Wizard of Oz. If your favorite books are all darker and grittier. 

Alessandra Torre: To us as a reader, is often what we will create as a writer. Yeah. 

Jim Woods: Absolutely. And look at those books for structure. Don’t try to, like, reinvent the wheel and just start with a blank page, but just get a little like a feel for, okay, well, they’re opening up here in this like the first chapter. It’s opening up here and like break it down a little bit. Like figure out, well what’s the beginning, middle and end for that chapter and even for the book because I, I think that the beginning, middle and end concept is so important and so powerful versus the hey, I must follow this specific structure, and I’m not bashing all of the many structures. It’s just it’s overwhelming. I’ve tried them all. Heck, I have a stack of books here. I’ll show you and I’ll go through it with you. If you’re like. Everyone wants to say, well, you got to do it this way. I’m like, no, you got to play to your strengths and kind of follow your gut and your heart and look at the books you love, because that’s where a roadmap is for your structure, for your novel, for any book. It’s like you have all these hints. It’s your job to be the detective and to find those little clues and say, okay. All right, here’s a clue. All right, let’s put that down. And it’s it’s more like building a puzzle. Frankly, once you find those corner pieces, though, that’s huge. Like, if you have an idea already in your head for the ending. Holy moly. Right? If you don’t have an idea for the ending, that’s cool too, because a lot of people, that’s not their thing. It’s like, I don’t know and that’s cool too. There’s no right or wrong way. At some point, you probably will outline. I think the question is when maybe it’s and maybe it’s. 

Alessandra Torre: How in-depth. 

Jim Woods: Absolutely. Maybe it’s outlining after you’ve already written the book, maybe you’re like, hey, I wrote this book, but I know it’s not working. And I feel like a lot of people that do NaNoWriMo, myself included, especially those first few times, it’s like, I have no clue what I’m doing. Well, you have this messy, out of order, kind of incoherent rough draft, and it’s like What’s next? 

Alessandra Torre: What do I do now? 

Jim Woods: Yeah, right. And I’m like, especially if you consider yourself a pantser, where you’re just kind of writing without an idea in place or a specific order of events. I think that’s when you’re kind of probably going to look in it and say, okay, well, let’s write a summary. What do I have? Each chapter, each beat. And then you can start to really sort it out. But I know there are some people who can write a 20- to 30-page outline. As long as that’s your strength and you enjoy doing that, or if you find that to be a part of your process, that’s cool. But I think a lot of people aren’t sure, right? 

Alessandra Torre: They aren’t. And then they read something that says you have to outline, right? Like or the only way they’re really finish your book is to outline. And the one kiss of death is forcing yourself to do something that’s against your creative, your flow. And for me, outlining is majorly against my creative flow. Like, I get tangled into knots and I can’t write a thing because, you know, I’m already bored of my story because I know everything that’s going to happen. So I think every every author is different. And I’ve seen some comments. Angela said, that’s where she is. She has a messy part. But yeah, that means the chapters and beats into an outline. And I love that. I do that all the time when I’m done because I have my first drafts look like. I mean, they’re just like a dumpster fire and, going through and outlining and seeing what you have, and you’re like, oh, I dragged way too long in this portion. And I rush through this. And why do I have five scenes from so-and-so’s point of view, you know, and then I don’t see them again until the last thing in the book.

Jim Woods: Angela, again, my heart goes with you. I totally get it. And I’ve been there, and I think so much of this is figuring out again what works for you. I love notecards, I have one of those science fair boards, you know, the cardboard. And I literally wrote up, yeah, it’s right next to mine. I can grab it, but it’ll all the notecards are probably falling off now, but just writing two sentences or two words. Whatever it means to you. Hey, this is this is my first scene. I went by scenes. I didn’t break it into chapters. I had no clue with chapters when I was in that. What is this stage? I was just going, OK, this happens like, very, you know, and just jot it down. I personally even say get a Sharpie just to make it not precious. You can’t get too — I have some of those big markers. Like really obnoxiously large ones. I don’t want to get it all like, well, this and this and this and I can. You don’t want to fall into the rabbit hole of your story on these notecards and just start to lay it out again like a puzzle. I love that analogy because I think it’s fair if you’re in that first draft messy stage that you know. and also just keep in mind some of this could go. Some of it could. It’s like it might feel like you’re not making progress. I mean, it feels kind of crummy to be like, oh, I have to rewrite this or this character. That’s called it’s fiction. And you’re going to have a lot of that. But what encourages me with that even is, hey, it could be a short story. Don’t assume you’re scrapping anything and one idea will lead to another idea. There’s a creative momentum there. 

Alessandra Torre: I love that. Valerie said, “I’m not a pantser. I’m a card flake. Like somewhere between index cards and the snowflake.” I love that and guys, please shout out questions as you go. We did have a question from Angela. I don’t know the answer to this. I don’t, if you do, but she said, what are the necessary beats in a chapter? I’d love to know that. 

Jim Woods: You know. I’m not sure frankly how to really, truly answer that, because I think it’s so much depends on your genre. It depends on your story. It’s not like every single chapter is going to look the same. Yeah. However, it has to have conflict. Without conflict you have no story. And I would say to if you can try to just say, hey, let’s set this aside and just pull that one chapter out. Does it make sense? Is there a beginning, a middle and end? Is the conflict being resolved or not? It’s good. If it’s not, that’s cool. But you have to leave them hanging and you have to like, leave that reader wanting more to turn the page. I can’t truly 100% answer that in a great way because, again, some people might want a one-page chapter. I’m not going to judge that. If you want to write a one-page chapter. Okay. If you want to write a 20-page chapter, you know there are 20 pages in there. It’s up to you. But I think the key is having that conflict, making sure that readers going, hey, I know what’s going on within reason. That is clear enough to keep them turning the page. I think that’s the real key here. And, you know, if I’ve had breaks in chapters, I mean, you can do that too, where you’re kind of like, hey, OK. Break. 

Alessandra Torre: Time break. Yeah. 

Jim Woods: Like, this is later in the day. Or, you know, like, you can totally do that too. And I would say to look at those books you absolutely love, stay within your genre if at all possible, because that’s the expectations of the reader. Play to the genre. Because if it’s like a romance novel, it’s going to look really different than a crime novel. I mean, it’s not even. Yeah, the conflict is there and the tension and the stakes, but you really need to play to those, you know, that genre specifically. 

Alessandra Torre: And I would say, Angela, the only I think necessary thing that needs to be in a chapter is a purpose, right. Like it, it needs to have a purpose. And it is hard because it’s almost like, what are the necessary beats in a scene? Right? Because a chapter could be a collection of scenes. It could just be a single scene. I’ve had books of 150 chapters. I’ve had books of 20 chapters, just depending on whether I’ve had really long chapters or shorter. James Patterson has very short chapters and, you know, moves through. So, like Jim said, and another thing you said early on and, that I wanted to comment on is you talked about, almost like opening a book that you’ve read and, and kind of doing like an outline, for lack of better word for that book. Yeah. And when I looked at writing screenplays years ago, the first thing my screenplay coach said was sit down and watch an episode of whatever you’re planning on writing. If you’re planning on writing a drama and sit down and watch the pilot episode of Breaking Bad and outline it and see, did they spend two minutes on that each scene before they, you know. Time each scene, see how long it is and outline that so you can understand how a script is written and how it should be laid out. And it’s going to be very formulaic in terms of there are genre expectations. I mean, he didn’t use that word, but I’m translating it into novel talk.

Jim Woods: for sure. 

Alessandra Torre: The scenes typically in your genre will be certain amount of lengths. There’ll be a certain amount of, description and dialogue and really analyzing, almost like a forensic analysis. You don’t have to do the entire book, but of the three chapters will really help you understand kind of how, how popular books in those genres, current popular books in those genres are written. 

Jim Woods: I couldn’t agree more. And on the on the movies TV. Turn on the subtitles. It will make your dialogue so much better. 

Alessandra Torre: I like that, too.

Jim Woods: That. Oh my gosh. Like that’s a game changer, especially for fiction with dialogue, because so much dialogue is on the nose or over-explaining. And if you just turn on the subtitles, I’m like, once you do that, that’ll change your approach to dialogue. I think that you really just have to experiment with different approaches, to,o and setting some boundaries, setting some parameters. Always the real main template is that beginning, middle, and end. I do prefer the four-act structure because I think the midpoint is huge. That was a game changer for me because then the midpoint. Is essentially cutting the story. Two. It’s that big of a deal, and that’s more of a screenwriting trick, I think, for the most part, because if you watch any movie, the midpoint, it’s like, okay, and this is before the big change. And then it’s setting up the rest of the middle. And then you have the end. And I think the midpoint really is key. If you’re struggling, if you’re like, your story’s kind of meandering a bit, I think the midpoint can totally solve that problem. 

Jim Woods: In my book, I mean, literally, that’s how I finished it. Without that four-act structure. Basically beginning. Act one. The middle is cut into two. So it’s like 2A. Midpoint where everything changes. And then 2B is the wrapup of the second act, and then the third act is the end. So the middle is just I mean, we can have a messy middle sometimes. If you’re not sure it’s the story’s meandering. That’s where that midpoint is so huge. And this is not the greatest example in the world. It is a movie. But like Christmas with the Kranks is one of those cheesy 90s Christmas movies. And like, you can find the midpoint where it’s like, oh, well, the daughter’s going to come home and surprise the the parents. Like it’s such a game changer that it just drives the rest of the story. And some stories the midpoint might be subtle. It might not be that big a deal. It might be a little more, just a false victory. But I think I think, I mean, it’s up to you and how you really want to shape it. And that’s one thing I’ve. I think just setting up a midpoint is like, that’s like. It’s it’s almost as important as that finding that ending. And if you’re not sure, you know, aim for the midpoint because that’s established. 

Alessandra Torre: Like are you talking about like if you see a normal story arc, right? And you have like the climax at the top, so where’s the midpoint? It’s or is it a swell of activity before the climax?

Jim Woods: I know what you mean with this swell. Yeah. I would say literally aim at the middle, smack in the middle. And you have flexibility as a novelist. Like my midpoint doesn’t fall smack like 100% in the middle, but it’s within that, you know, ten, 20 pages right in there. And when you see it, you’re gonna be like, oh, well, shoot. Everything changed. Yeah. And I think it adds to the story when you’re really, like stepping on the gas pedal versus, you know, you have read a book and you’re just kind of like, Where is this going? 

Alessandra Torre: This wandering, yeah. 

Jim Woods: You know, where’s this really going? 

Alessandra Torre: So if I understand correctly, you’re saying there needs to be ideally like a, a pivotal moment in the middle of the book or an introduction of new conflict. So that’s what something that is that changes the course of the story around the middle of the book. Is that?

Jim Woods: That’s what I’m saying. Yeah. And it’s in some books it’s not as big of a deal. In some genres, like action is going to be way more evident. But it’s there if you look for it, if you really start analyzing and you say, oh, well, you know what? And in this specific story, there was a there was a false victory like I’m trying to remember in Jaws, but I know there was a false victory. I think it was literally they. 

Alessandra Torre: Well, they caught a shark. 

Jim Woods: The tiger shark.  Yeah.

Alessandra Torre: it wasn’t the shark. 

Jim Woods: And it wasn’t. Right. And that’s, that’s a good example where it’s like right before they really like. Act three, the final ending, you know, climax. It’s obvious it’s coming because that big final confrontation. It’s been building toward it all along. I know what you’re thinking with the arc where it’s going up and up and up. I feel like it’s I’m looking at it a little bit more like a roller coaster where you’re going to have different hills. 

Alessandra Torre: And that’s my ideal arc goes like this. Yeah, yeah, there’s and it. And for a lot of you who write romance, that middle point would be typically when they break up. 

Jim Woods: Exactly, romcoms, too. 

Alessandra Torre: Yeah. 

Jim Woods: Yeah. but that was a game changer for me. And I’ll be honest, it’s. You have to do your homework on this. You have to do your due diligence on midpoints. In some movies, it’s not as big a deal. On some books it’s not as big a deal. But for me, it was a total game changer because I could literally say in my book, okay, up until this point, all, this is what’s happening in the story. But when this one thing changes, when there’s like this big assassination attempt where nobody saw it coming. Well, all right, now the stakes are even higher. And that is a personal preference to where I think some people like, they want the conflict, they really want the stakes. And that’s one thing I fully admit. I don’t want to mess around. I want people to die. I want things to change. I don’t want the ending to just be like, and it was a dream. And, you know, I want I want something to happen where I think sometimes it’s like. And this was a big fakeout, you know, I’ve seen those and they always kind of let me down personally. And that’s a personal taste thing. I’m not knocking everything. 

Alessandra Torre: I think. 

Jim Woods: It’s just a personal taste. 

Alessandra Torre: Dream. They wake up from a dream at the end and I think everybody does like, you know, groan. 

Yeah, right?

Jim Woods: It can be done well. It can be done well. But I think at that point it’s the whole story is not hinging on that ending. You know, with that, I’ve seen a few times where in stories it’s done well, but it’s, it’s kind of a, a reveal. It’s not that the whole story was hinging on that. It’s not. It’s always you’re meeting those expectations. And and also another thing for Angela and everyone in this kind of stage, keep in mind too with setups and payoffs. Like literally that’s the easy way to outline. Hey, I set up this. Is there a payoff? Just listing those out that’s a huge thing.

Alessandra Torre: OK. Let’s dive into that a little bit more for someone who doesn’t know what that means. So what do you mean by a setup? and how many should you have in your book?

Jim Woods: If you introduce a character, they’re going to have to do something right? That’s that’s one of our common mistakes. If you’re like, hey, I, I forgot about that character. Somehow I change their name. But if you’re setting something up, if you’re setting up some form of conflict.  Say it’s an employee and they’re having tension with their boss. He’s either going to have to quit or get fired or something like that. Like you’re setting it up, you’re setting up expectations, and you’re also giving those actions some consequences if you. 

Alessandra Torre: It’s it like the introduction of a conflict? 

Jim Woods: Yeah. Yeah, I think so. I mean, anything you’re setting up in the story, if a character says something. There again needs to be a purpose, kind of like you mentioned there. And also there needs to be a reason, you know. There needs to be some causation, too. 

Alessandra Torre: OK, so you’re literally setting up something that’s going to happen later in the book. 

Jim Woods: Yeah.

Alessandra Torre: Might need to have I think you said the resolution. Is that what you called it?

Jim Woods: Some form of resolution, like some form of payoff. I’m so better with movies than I am with books. But, well, I. 

Alessandra Torre: Watch the movies typically, so they always make good examples. 

Jim Woods: But if you, if you it’s. Part of this is, too, Chekhov’s gun. If you show a gun in one scene, they have to use it. And in so many cases, I think we as writers, we have lots of ideas, but then we kind of get wrapped up in more ideas. So if you go through your scenes and you say, like, I’m looking over at my board here, okay, I have a U-Haul incident that, or it was a car dealer, had a U-Haul like dealership, and I set up like he was going to give some leads and some information that would help the main characters. But then I kind of left him hanging. Yeah. I was like, oh, well, the cartel could be after him. Maybe he’s a plant. Maybe they tapped his phone. I didn’t go anywhere with it. I just kind of like, oh, and this scene’s here. It’s by itself. I didn’t I didn’t really have a payoff for it. Later, I was, oh, I gotta fix this. I had set up something. There was some conflict with this character, Marty. What happened to Marty? I don’t know. We set it up, and I even, like, had the character give him his business card. I was like, okay, we set all this up. What’s the payoff? Well, my payoff at the end was like it was a little bit ambiguous, but it added to the tension. I was like. The character calls Marty, and Marty’s not answering the phone. Yeah, I was kind of hinting at like, hey, his phone was disconnected. Maybe the cartel got it. You know, I was it wasn’t completely crystal clear with that payoff. But I was like, I don’t care. This isn’t I’m not going to go back just to have him find his body. It doesn’t really matter in the story, but I wanted to still, you know, tie that bow in to help raise the stakes of the story. And that was just one example where I’m like, it’s so easy to overlook that setups must have some form of payoff. I know that’s not like the most elaborate explanation, so. 

Alessandra Torre: I love that. And I think pantsers really struggle with this because we don’t know where our story is going to go. We don’t know how we’re going to use characters, and we’re like, oh, this is fun. And then we forget about that person. And then you read a review a year later that’s like, whatever happened to the little old lady at the store? Did she ever find her happy ending or whatever, happy ever after. And, but what about in like, a mystery where you’re setting up like, red herrings? Do you need to tie up those loose ends? 

Jim Woods: Within reason. It doesn’t necessarily have to be a great explanation, because people are smart and they can use their imagination. And I think sometimes it’s fun to leave it a little bit open ended. Just a little, because some people come with theories, as long as it’s plausible enough that people aren’t …

Alessandra Torre: As long as you’re not deceiving them, right? Yeah. Going down this long rabbit hole with the character, and then you get some dumb explanation for why. 

Jim Woods: And also in your character development, if a character is really freaking smart. The audience is going to accept that too. They’d be like, oh, well, he thought of this and he just set it up. We’re not questioning Hannibal Lecter. He could totally do things right. And we’re like, we’re not going to nitpick and be like, well, I don’t know if he could escape out of the country. If you’re doing. No, you saw him eat a guy, so you. 

Alessandra Torre: Get on a private jet. Yeah. Like, does he have airport clearance? Yeah. How did he convince the guy to come to dinner? You know. 

Jim Woods: Exactly. Right?

Alessandra Torre: I love that example. I think that I use that movie all the time for for literary examples, you know, because everybody’s seen it, and if you haven’t you should watch Silence of the Lambs. 

Jim Woods: And that’s even with that example, it’s like he’s not even in the movie that much. Very little, but has such a tremendous impact. And it just tells you how powerful a story can be when you craft great characters, when you have high stakes of like life or death versus, you know, it was all a dream or everybody comes back to life and you know, all those things, that kind. 

Alessandra Torre: Or a movie where everyone dies at the end and you’re like, well, we know something’s going to happen because you can’t kill everybody, right? So, we are we are out of time. I did want to point out something. If anyone has any last questions, now is your time to shout them out before we go. I did want to point out what I thought was a great tip. And I never do this and I should from Camilla. She said the director’s cut, watching the director’s cut. And I can see why that would be very helpful, because they could explain why they chose to film this scene this way or in that here. So I love that tip. And I’m going to start going back and trying to watch director’s cuts of my favorite movies. 

Jim Woods: Yeah. Podcasts and YouTube are amazing with this too, because authors will tell you. Most authors, they’re they’re blunt. They’re like, oh yeah, I read this book and these helped me shape this book. Yeah. And it’s like, OK. Hello, Easter eggs. I just need to pick up these two and kind of analyze them as. 

Alessandra Torre: I see it. And Marlon, he talked about the W plot structure, which I just learned about like two years ago. And that’s where, you know, the the character starts off at a high point, has a huge problem, solves it, loses everything, and then has to get back up. And that’s a very common plot structure in romance. Also, that was where I actually, first learned about it. But, thank you so much. Thank you guys. Everyone who tuned in live, if you are watching us on YouTube or on Facebook, or if you’re listening to a replay on the podcast, it’s great to have you. Please subscribe to the channel or join the group, and we will see you guys in two weeks at our next First Draft Friday. So thank you so much, Jim. If they want to get ahold of you, if they’re interested in using you as a writing coach or reading your books, where’s the best place to find you? 

Jim Woods: Just my website. That’d be great. I’d love to hear from any writers, any way I can encourage you. I know we’re all in this together. You know, writers are also readers. And anyway, we can all put more stories in the world. I love that. So thanks so much for having me. 

Alessandra Torre: Also has a podcast. Are your podcast links on that website? 

Jim Woods: But no, but they will be! 

Alessandra Torre: So yeah. So if you are interested in hearing more from Jim feel free to check his website. So thank you guys. Thank you all for joining us. And I hope you guys have a great weekend. Happy Friday. 

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