Story Structure: Why It’s Important

For many years, I’ve avoided writing any sort of fiction, using the excuse of my demonstrable ignorance of the overall mechanics of fiction writing. This has remained a static objection, in spite of the fact that my brain bubbles with actions, dialogue, an plots. What it was really about was ego. For so long, I drove a course through life maintained by the sheer will on that portion of myself, an in order to maintain forward momentum, my ego had to remain unassailable to critique. Well, there’s no more room for that crap in my life. In order to grow this aspect of my life path, I’m going to have to open up to failure. Moreover, I’ll have to persevere and try repeatedly until I’ve got the knack–commonly known as practice.
Skating along on the natural ear I have for writing won’t carry me far enough. That’s why I love these entries I reblog. They explain things in such a way that my internal critic has something beyond emotional self-doubt to work with. They allow me to identify areas in my writing that need work, and introduce tools and elements of the craft in a way that makes sense. Enjoy!

MDellert-dot-Com

Many writers balk at words like structure, form, or plot. Such folks seem to believe that this implies some type of formula or predetermined format as rigid as a paint-by-numbers portrait.

Structure needn't be formulaic. Structure needn’t be formulaic.

That’s a lie. The truth is that a thorough understanding and use of fiction’s classic structural patterns actually liberates you from worrying about the wrong things, allowing you to concentrate your imagination on characters and events rather than on such stuff as transitions and moving chapters around, when to begin or open a chapter, whether there ought to be a flashback, and so on. Once structure is understood, many such architectural questions become irrelevant. And structure has nothing to do with “cornflower blue in all the nineteens.”

Structure is nothing more than a way of looking at your story material in an organized fashion that’s both logical and dramatic.

Structure is a process, not a…

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2 thoughts on “Story Structure: Why It’s Important

  1. One of my favorite “writerly” quotes is from Erica Jong, whom I’m going to paraphrase badly here: I went for years never finishing anything, but once something is finished, it can be judged. It is a frightening moment for anyone, to place oneself before one’s peers to be judged. But after all, it’s the only way we get any better, isn’t it?

    Thanks so much for the reblog. I’m glad to hear you’re finding these articles useful to you. Let me know if there are any particular elements of craft or business you’d like to see me cover.

    Looking forward to a fine game of badminton someday.

    Cheers,
    Michael

    1. It was a mechanism of self protection that I cannot with any conscience continue to employ if I want to embrace being a writer. It’s one of the concepts that caused the dilemma I addressed in my post about writer’s block–a transition from “doing it just because” to “creating a product for the market.” Which is all fine and good when it comes to pay copy–articles about how to increase biodiversity in your back yard, home improvement services and projects, recipes and whatnot. However, I have balked at the hurdle of producing a solely creative product and settling on its monetary value.

      I’m learning in the only way that’s ever been effective–by doing and getting dirty and ripping things out that are in my way, even if it hurts a little.

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