Plot & Structure 10: The Bell Pyramid

Who doesn’t like pyramids? Mr Bell always wanted one named after him, so in his plot book he did just that.


He asks writers to put their unsunken lines and hooks through another test: PPP.


Does the story inspire passion? Does the story have potential? Will the writing be precise?


The reason your story idea should inspire passion is because of the intensity of writing a novel, not to mention the duration. Just like we want the start of a relationship to always remind us of its fireworks, we should imbue our stories with that same fire from the start.


The potential part of the pyramid deals with the market. Does your story have potential to grab readers? It isn’t as important as having fire for you, but it should be relatable to others as well. Mr Bell even recommends we scour PW or other publisher magazines to see if our story resonates with the larger world.


Lastly, you want everything in the story to be precisely about the big idea. I’m guilty of going off on long tangents. My first two novels were like wildfires of passion, that never considered their potential until after burning everything, and then the precision? None. I wrote whatever felt right. And the result . . . two books I adore yet fray and twist towards an unspoken end. (Note, last week Ela told me not to diss my novels on my blog, because then who would read them? It would be like her talking bad about her dresses. Well, I replied, I speak honestly about them in the hopes that it inspires curiosity and interest in reading them. One day we will see who was right.)


. . .


Let’s run this pyramid scheme and the hook/line/sinker on my upcoming novel, shall we?


Hook: A book that makes philosophy fun


Line: When the same true love of two best friends passes away, they reunite to tell the story of their falling out over her.




Is it unique enough? We have philosophy, photography, and pop. Hyperlinks in the text for references. Southeast Asia and Texas, they common ground and differences. Not coming of age for teens, but coming of age for grown men who didn’t want to grow up.


Is the setting interesting? Bali, Vietname, Japan, and Texas, c’mon!


Are the characters interesting? A celebrity philosophy professor outmouth. A star photographer quietboy.


Are the stakes high enough? Let’s add some death. There is a mob gang. Lots of alcohol and drugs. And lots of money top. Loss of friendship. Loss of love. And yes death and divorce. What else do we need!


Is the title alone enough to grab readers? I think so! Awake & Asleep.


Do you have a villain? Yikes, not yet. Maybe the spirit of true evil lurks in the corners, and appears to mess with everyone. This would balance true love, no?


Do you have a killer prologue? I’m thinking a great chapter one, with receiving the email reply from the long lost friend.


Are there any interesting ideas I could steal from other stories? Sophie’s World, The Beach, and Dharma Bums, why not.


How does this novel fit into the larger world? Friendship and love are timeless, but what about when they are mixed up, or when one challenges the other? These are interesting questions, especially in today’s world of fuckboys and declining marriage rates, and social distancing, and internet friendships. Plus it’s never been easier to travel, so all the wonderlust in the world can cram in here . . . I hope . . .


Am I passionate about it? Yes! Does it promise potential? Most likely, we must see what is relevent on the best seller list. “White Fragility,” “How to be an Antiracist,” and some books about the president. What else, on the forecasts: a book about a girl with powers after eating the dirt around her slums; a story about two gay Houstonians; another Sigrid Nunez novel about death and friendship.  Will I be precise? I will try.


What other elements can I incorporate into the story? Backstories, predictions for future, lots of sex, both gay and straight sex, explosions, mushroom trips, idiot narrator, and a knockout ending at the airport.

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