A. Victoria Mixon, Editor
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Writer's Digest presents an excerpt from my webinar for them, 'Three Secrets of the Greats: Structure Your Story for Ultimate Reader Addiction.'

Joanna Penn of The Creative Penn, one of the Top 10 Blogs for Writers, interviews me about storytelling, writing, independent editing, and the difference between literary fiction and genre, with an impromptu exercise on her own Work-in-Progress.

Editing client Stu Wakefield, author of the Kindle #1 Best Seller Body of Water, talks about our work together on Memory of Water, the second novel of his Water trilogy.
  • By Victoria Mixon

    Hello Victoria, My name is Alex, and I’ve been reading your blog “five ways to make your novel inescapable.” First of all, I’d like to thank you for the blog post. It is a very nice piece. My question is concerning a hook climax. Can you please explain what a hook climax is? I believe what you’re saying is that is the hook climax is one of the major elements, the counterpoint. I think the point and the counterpoint are the two main themes that are intertwined throughout the entire story. But I believe you’re also saying that the hook is tied into the climax at the end of the book. Can you please explain this more? Should I be focusing on having my hook tie to the story’s climax? Alex

    That’s a really interesting interpretation! What you’re talking about is what I call resonance.

    What I’m talking about with the Climax of the HOOK in “5 Ways to Make Your Novel Inescapable” is plot outline.

    The key to keeping the reader intrigued is the novel’s CLIMAX, which is the Whole Point of any story. And knowing that climax is the whole point of any story allows us to use it to emphasize the whole point of any aspect of any story.

    I use three-act structure to design novels, partly because our brains are hardwired to prefer things that come in threes, and partly because it’s easy:


    I discuss these three acts in-depth in Art & Craft of Writing Fiction, relating them to our classical understanding of story design through Syd Field, Gustav Freytag, and Shakespeare. They’re really important.

    And when we use the climax of each act to illuminate the whole point of that act, we get two parts to each one:

    ACT I

    CONFLICT #1 (Act I Climax)

    ACT II

    CONFLICT #2 (Midpoint)
    CONFLICT #3 (Act II Climax)


    CLIMAX (Act III Climax)

    I also use something I call holographic design to give each of the six parts their own six parts. This means that the HOOK has its own Climax. (Three of these six parts I call CONFLICTS, to avoid confusion, and each part has its own Climax.)

    Now, of course there’s a lot more to structure than this. But this is the general gist of it.

    I outline all of this in detail in Art & Craft of Writing Stories, in which I describe how I’ve analyzed scores of novels to discover how they’re put together so they keep the reader intrigued all the way through, and I walk you step-by-step through six canonical examples of stories that helped originate our biggest-selling modern genres.

    I mean, 70-100,000 words is a LOT of words. All too often, we hear someone say, “I started that book but never finished it.” We writers don’t want that book to be ours.

    So we must know how to keep the reader intrigued on every page: by shaping the story around its climaxes.


    “The freshest and most relevant
    advice you’ll find.”

    —Helen Gallagher, Seattle Post-Intelligencer

    The Art & Craft of Writing Fiction

    The Art & Craft of Writing Stories

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MILLLICENT G. DILLON, represented by Harold Ober Associates, is the world's expert on authors Jane and Paul Bowles. She has won five O. Henry Awards and been nominated for the PEN/Faulkner. I worked with Dillon on her memoir, The Absolute Elsewhere, in which she describes in luminous prose her private meeting with Albert Einstein to discuss the ethics of the atomic bomb. Read more. . .

BHAICHAND PATEL, retired after an illustrious career with the United Nations, is now a journalist based out of New Dehli and Bombay, an expert on Bollywood, and author of three non-fiction books published by Penguin. I edited Patel’s best-selling debut novel, Mothers, Lovers, and Other Strangers, published by PanMacmillan. Read more. . .

LUCIA ORTH is the author of the debut novel, Baby Jesus Pawn Shop, which received critical acclaim from Publisher’s Weekly, NPR, Booklist, Library Journal and Small Press Reviews. I have edited a number of essays and articles for Orth. Read more. . .

SCOTT WARRENDER is a professional musician and Annie Award-nominated lyricist specializing in musical theater. I work with Warrender regularly on his short stories and debut novel, Putaway. Read more. . .

STUART WAKEFIELD is the #1 Kindle Best Selling author of Body of Water, the first novel in his Orcadian Trilogy. Body of Water was 1 of 10 books long-listed for the Polari First Book Prize. I edited Wakefield's second novel, Memory of Water, and look forward to editing the final novel of his Orcadian Trilogy, Spirit of Water. Read more. . .

ANIA VESENNY, represented by Beverly Slopen Literary Agency, is a recipient of the Evelyn Sullivan Gilbertson Award for Emerging Artist in Literature and has been nominated for the Pushcart Prize. I edited Vesenny's debut novel, Swearing in Russian at the Northern Lights, and her second novel, Sandara. Read more. . .

TERISA GREEN, represented by Dystel and Goderich Literary Management, is widely considered the foremost American authority on tattooing through her tattoo books published by Simon & Schuster, which have sold over 45,000 copies. Under the name M. TERRY GREEN, she writes her techno-shaman sci-fi/fantasy series. I am working with Green to develop a new speculative fiction series. Read more. . .

GERALDINE EVANS is a best-selling British author. Her historical novel, Reluctant Queen, is a Category No 1 Best Seller on Amazon UK. I edited Death Dues, #11 in Evans' fifteen popular Rafferty and Llewellyn cozy police procedurals, which received a glowing review from the Midwest Book Review. Read more. . .

SCOTT WILBANKS, represented by Barbara Poelle of the Irene Goodman Literary Agency, is the author of the debut novel, The Lemoncholy Life of Annie Aster, forthcoming from Sourcebooks in August, 2015. I'm working with Wilbanks on his sophomore novel, Easy Pickens, the story of the world’s only medically-diagnosed case of chronic naiveté. Read more. . .

LISA MERCADO-FERNANDEZ writes literary novels of love, loss, and friendship set in the small coastal towns of New England. I edited Mercado-Fernandez' debut novel, The Shoebox, and her up-coming The Eighth Summer. Read more. . .

JUDY LEE DUNN is an award-winning marketing blogger. I am working with Dunn to develop and line edit her memoir of reconciling liberal activism with her emotional difficulty accepting the lesbianism of her beloved daughter, Tonight Show comedienne Kellye Rowland. Read more. . .

LEN JOY is the author of the debut novel, American Past Time. I worked with Len to develop his novel from its core: a short story about the self-destructive ambitions of a Minor League baseball star, which agents had told him to throw away. Read more. . .

JEFF RUSSELL is the author of the debut novel, The Rules of Love and Law, based upon Jeff's abiding passions for legal history and justice. Read more. . .

In addition, I work with dozens of aspiring writers in their apprenticeship to this literary art and craft.