Friday, Aug 24, 2012

Friday Fix (Craft): Structuring Your Story

Whether you are a planner or a pantster (one who writes by the seat of her pants), you always structure your story. The planner structures her story before writing it; the pantster structures her story while writing it. Which method works better for you is something only you can decide. 

I will say, however, that if you’re interested in getting your story right the first time—you’ll consider planning its structure before you start writing. Otherwise, you will write numerous drafts, each of which will move you closer to the correct structure you could have created before you started writing your story. Unless you are one of those people who is more interested in the scenic route than in getting to your destination quickly, you will benefit from structuring your story before you write it. 

So, how do you structure your story? As in all of the arts, there are principles to writing a great story. Aristotle first introduced us to the three-act structure which is currently used in the screenwriting industry. When applied to novels, this three-part structure actually breaks down into four parts, the two middle parts of which comprise Act Two of the screenwriting structure. 

Each of the four parts of novel structure contains certain elements that belong only in those parts. Some novelists know this by instinct; others have to learn it. If you are struggling with your story, it is likely that you are putting the wrong elements into the wrong parts of your story.

In future Friday posts, we will discuss what elements belong in each of the four parts of your story. So don’t forget to stop by next Friday for our next installment.

For further excellent discussion on this topic, check out Larry Brooks’ outstanding book entitled Story Engineering.

Photo Source: Microsoft Clipart

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