Nov 16, 2009


I'm going to talk about the importance of story structure today. Everyone knows that all stories should have a beginning, middle, and end (i hope). And, I believe all forms of story need some sort of structure whether it be drawn, written, or pictured in your mind.

What is structure? There are so many types of structure geared toward specific genres, but the most commonly used is the three act structure, which dates back centuries. Another is the five act structure, and those of you who watch desperate housewives can see it in the show.

***I'm a Gabby & Carlos fan. There's something about his personality on the show that I find absolutely adorable.***

I'm going to talk about how I approach story structure. Keep in mind that writers work in different ways. I know writers who set out with no written planning and only an idea in their head of the general concept/plot. I also know writers who plan out each scene from the dialogue to character movements.

I would have to say my style is somewhere in between. I outline my novel chapter by chapter, but only with a sentence or two for each one. And, usually, the chapter doesn't correspond with my first outline because I found another path. But, I don't just go with the new path. I re-do my outline and make sure the story has a fast-paced feel. (I'm not one for MC's who go about daily routines. I know how to brush my teeth, so I don't need two sentences on how the MC's gums are being treated.)

Some people storyboard it. You know, the story structure diagram you learn in, like, seventh grade and you attach post-its along the way. I can see how it works for people, its a great way to truly visualize how your story's going. My characters never shut-up in my head so its pretty easy visualize what they are doing along the way and during the dialogue. THey love showing it to me.

The best advice I have for writers is to be open to change. Planning too much detail beforehand can confine yourself to that story line and you may never see a better one that's dying for your attention.

Also, if you have trouble understanding structure and outlining, I suggest sitting in front of a t.v. and writing outlines of some of your favorite movies. You'll begin to noticing how journeys start of and how (if it's a good show or movie) there's a point to every spoken word and the low points the characters always face before the big boom.

I'm interested in hearing from you guys. Do you outline? Do you write blind? Is there a mix to your writing? Structure relates to the age old argument of whether writing is an art or a teachable craft. Do you think structure helps create solid blockbusters?


Fey (fellow AWer) said...

Sorry I haven't been on your bog lately! Been a busy bee with revisions.

Anyway, I don't outline. I write blind on my first draft. Which is usually why the first half of it is crap because I have no idea where the story is going.

I think writing takes the natural ability to tell a story and the will to learn how to tell the story right. Does that make sense? Hope so. I think every right should learn the basics even if they miraculously get published with their first novel.

K.M. said...

Total blind writer over here.

I write and write and write and then I take a chainsaw to it.

Julie said...

I am also a blind writer. But I see the beginning to the middle maybe and then I fill in and then end up rewriting most of it.