The Backbone of a Story

I was pondering the need for a satisfying story to have a backbone. I’ve just finished reading Before You by Kathryn Freeman, which I thoroughly enjoyed. The story is set against the yearly Formula 1 season and it struck me that this provided a great structure against which the lives of the characters are played out.

I struggled with an image to depict structure. Maybe this picture can represent the full circle a story often has to take. It’s actually a picture of  summerhouse roof at Witley Court in Worcestershire.

My forthcoming debut follows part of the school year and holidays. One novel I’ve been working on is set against the stage of the English Civil war and another the First World War, the history providing the necessary structure.

I’ve also read books that use the revelations of a diary as the backbone as with Lynda Stacey’s House of Secrets featuring on my blog of 25 July 2016 and Georgia Hill’s While I Was Waiting a guest on my blog on 2 July 2015.

It made me realise that I need to be conscious of the frame into which I fit my novels. I think in the past I’ve done this subconsciously, paying attention to the seasons and passing of the years, but in future I will be doing this deliberately as I feel it adds so much to the tale.

Can you give me any more examples of structure behind a novel?

In other news:

  • Watch out for a competition for subscribers to my blog next week and
  • I will shortly begin a series of interviews with my fellow Choc Lit authors, starting with Kirsty Ferry in two weeks.

By Morton S. Gray

Author of romantic suspense novels.


  1. Thoughtful post, Morton. Time is often used as structure in crime novels – over a day, a weekend, a holiday period etc. Whilst the run up to Christmas seems to be a favourite of romantic novelists. : )

    Liked by 1 person

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