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A novel is a skillfully crafted and deliberate piece of writing. Most novels have a story sequence or structure or frame around and within which the plot is woven and characters move and play out their roles.




According to someone called Gustav Freytag, a novel has a definite structure as shown in the diagram above and explained below.

1. The scene is set. Most stories start with the setting of the scene. The background of the story is laid out and characters are introduced. In ‘Step by Wicked Step’ the scene is set when a group of schoolchildren on a trip was singled out to spend the night together at a spooky, old mansion.

2.  Something happens to set the story in motion. An event happens which sets the story in motion. This event usually causes complications or conflict and the novel is all about the resolution of this complication or conflict. In ‘Step by Wicked Step’ this happened when the group of children found a young boy’s journal.

3.  Action builds up. Action builds up.Events follow one another at a fast pace. The reader is now fully absorbed in the characters and what happens to them. In ‘Step by Wicked Step’ action builds up as each of the children in the group told their own story of their experiences with their step parents when their parents divorced.

4.  Climax. The action builds up to a climax. This is the most interesting part of the story. The problem at hand becomes more critical. Things look really hopeless. The reader is led to think there is no way out of the situation. The novel ‘Step by Wicked Step’ is made up of a collection of stories or vignettes, i.e. short stories within a main story. The main story does not have an obvious climax. But each of the short stories has its own climax in which things come to a crisis in each child’s relationship with the step parent.

5.  Action slows down. Action slows down after the climax. The reader loses that feeling of desperation or hopelessness which had characterised the climax. In‘Step by Wicked Step’, there is a crisis in each story. It is usually a confrontation or a sudden insight (understanding) experienced by the main character. Action slows down after this crisis.

 6. Resolution. The climax or crisis earlier has thrown light on the situation. Everything is explained and problem is solved. The situation begins to stabilise. The situation improved for the character in the story. The sense of desperation felt gets less. In ‘Step by Wicked Step’ not everything is resolved but the child has a better understanding of the situation. The child is able to accept his/her new life. Everything falls into place and peace and stability reigns once more.

7. The final outcome. In the final stages, everything falls into place. Everything reaches closure in a satisfactory way for the reader. Sometimes the writer ends with a question for the reader, i.e. the story has no real ending. Or the writer lets the reader form his/her own conclusion to the story. Not all the stories in ‘Step after Wicked Step’ reached a resolution or closure or happy ending. However, there was promise that the situation would improve or the story ended on a hopeful note.

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