We’re back for our last look at THE SKY IS EVERY WHERE. The ending, the oh so crucial ending if you want readers to read your next book! I learned a lot from this book, and I hope you did too. Here’s Act III broken down to Blake Snyder’s SAVE THE CAT.

Break into Three: (External and internal conflicts combine for the solution.)

In a character-driven story often the external conflict (or A story) is closely tied or the same as the internal conflict. So, at the start of Act III we see Lennie making decisions to take control.

She not only decides to challenge Rachel for first chair, but she brings her Gram’s famous roses to Joe’s house. Way to go, Lennie! Living life. Taking risks. The exact opposite of the Lennie we first met.

Finale: (the climax)

The climax, for me, is the rest of the book, chapter after chapter of emotional pay-offs. Her Gram. Toby. Her friend, Sarah. Joe. #nospoilers

An amazing ending.

Final Image: (Opposite of the opening image.)

Remember the sickly plant with black spots? That represented Lennie? I thought the plant would thrive at the end. But no.

In this last scene, Lennie visits Bailey’s grave and she throws the sickly plant off a cliff. I loved this. The plant didn’t get better. The old Bailey is gone. She realizes that through her sister dying, she has become a different person, a stronger person, a more alive person, who feels things she didn’t feel before.


Some of you may have figured out by now that this book had excellent structure. Whether Jandy Nelson did that on purpose, I’ll never know. Sometimes, stories come naturally. As writers, we know to put in more tension, create character change, and tie up loose ends.

The only reason I read this book was to study the structure of a literary novel. Would it hold up? I’m so glad I read it. Why did I wait so long?

Any books you feel that way about? Because I want to read them!

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21 Responses to A last look at THE SKY IS EVERYWHERE.

  1. Andrea November 14, 2011 at 12:00 pm #

    Laura, I’m glad you discussed this book on your blog, since it made me curious. I got the book and read it…and really enjoyed it. I did like the fact that even though the story had a structure (which apparently follows the Save the Cat formula), it didn’t feel obvious as I was reading.

  2. Natalie Aguirre November 14, 2011 at 12:02 pm #

    Casey raves about this book too. I need to read it. I love how you broke it down like SAVE THE CAT does.

    • Laura November 14, 2011 at 12:43 pm #

      Natalie – you’ll love it.

      Andrea – Those makes the best stories. When the formula behind the book isn’t obvious, seamless.

  3. Katie Ganshert November 14, 2011 at 1:06 pm #

    I love reading books that have great structure too. I like studying them. I know I’ve read some great ones! I wish I could think of them right now!

  4. christine danek November 14, 2011 at 1:09 pm #

    I do have this and hope to read it soon. Any advice on how to look at my manscript like this? I know Save The Cat is the perfect tool. My problem is–I have a hard time taking it apart. I just do it vs. taking it apart. It’s probably not the best method, but when I try to break it out my mind goes into a haze. Any thoughts?

  5. Leigh Moore November 14, 2011 at 2:07 pm #

    ahh… now you’ve got me searching my brain for a rec. But I don’t typically break stories down like this as I read. Maybe I do w/o thinking, I don’t know. But you are right about how sometimes they come to us this way and sometimes we have to work on it.

    Hate that second type. 😀 <3

  6. Susan R. Mills November 14, 2011 at 2:24 pm #

    I’m adding this book to my list. It sounds like a good one, and a perfect example of good story structure.

  7. Susan Kaye Quinn November 14, 2011 at 2:54 pm #

    I love the analyses you do! And I should probably shrug off my biases and read more literary work, especially if it has great storytelling like this!

    (p.s. I love that twist of throwing the plant off the cliff. It’s amazing what good imagery can do.)

  8. Carolina Valdez Miller November 14, 2011 at 3:46 pm #

    It took me a long time to pick up Blake’s book, and after I did, I began to see why a book I had written a while ago wasn’t working. And why I book I was writing was working so well. Like you said, I think sometimes stories just unfold naturally like this, following patterns that make it feel so organically YES YES YES. It’d be interesting to know if Jandy was following Blake’s structure or not. Although I suspect not likely.

  9. Lydia K November 14, 2011 at 3:55 pm #

    I’ve definitely kind of become a Save the Cat groupie. Great last installment here, Laura!

  10. Karen Lange November 14, 2011 at 4:21 pm #

    I really like the way you broke this down. I think I need to give it a try on one of my favorites. It’s a great exercise!

  11. Jessica Bell November 14, 2011 at 4:24 pm #

    I’ve said it SO many times! Housekeeping, Marilynne Robinson 🙂

    • Laura November 14, 2011 at 4:54 pm #

      Thanks everyone! I’m craving reading great writing now. A great story along with it would be terrific!

  12. Sherrie Petersen November 14, 2011 at 8:23 pm #

    I just read Shine by Lauren Myracle over the weekend and omigosh, if you want to read a powerful story, that definitely qualifies. I’m not as good at analyzing the story for structure, but I will say that once I started, I couldn’t put the book down. Great writing, great story. If I was on the NBA, I definitely would have chosen this over Chime 😛

  13. Lynda R Young November 14, 2011 at 8:30 pm #

    Yes, great endings make me feel happy (even if the ending isn’t a happy one). It’s makes reading a satisfying experience.

  14. Lisa Green November 14, 2011 at 9:09 pm #

    You know which one it would be interesting to see you analyze? The Book Thief. 😀 Loved it.

    • Laura November 14, 2011 at 10:25 pm #

      I agree. It’s a bit long for me to analyze. I know I should read it. I started the Book Thief and then put it down b/c I couldn’t get into it. I don’t think I gave it long enough. I will try again one of these days!

  15. Sara McClung November 15, 2011 at 12:42 am #

    God, I love that book.

    The three books I waited forEVER to read–and immensely regretted waiting so long after because they were freaking amazing–are Before I Fall, 13 Reasons Why, and… Yeah… The Hunger Games 🙂

  16. Brenda Drake (@brendadrake) November 15, 2011 at 5:13 pm #

    Great exercise – I’ll have to try it on my Literary Ladies Book Club read this month (Major Pettigrew’s Last Stand by Helen Simonson). Thanks for sharing! <3

  17. Lisa and Laura November 19, 2011 at 2:36 am #

    Oh man, this post makes me want to read that book all over again. Absolutely gorgeous. Can’t wait to read Jandy’s next one!

  18. Margo Berendsen December 2, 2011 at 2:16 am #

    I was intrigued when you decided to see if a literary book would hold up to the three act structure… I just finished the book today and come back here to visit and learn about its structure.

    Fascinating! I didn’t consciously notice how Lenny starts doing things opposite of what she did early on. But I did catch the plant off the cliff thing, that was awesome! I too thought the plant would recover, but I liked this version much better.

    I read Nelson’s author blurb and she has a double MFA – so I bet she did consciously structure her novel for maximum emotional impact. Larry Brooks did a series on how the Help, another great literary novel, also follows the three act structure to a T.

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