Recycling Story Structure

During the process of migrating from Blogger to WordPress I lost a few early posts. For some unknown reason they didn’t transfer and since nobody ever read them it seemed a shame they got abandoned down in Google’s basement. I’ve resurrected them here just for you. Sweet!

Fresh from the compost heap:

Story structure fascinates me. I know I’ve been going on about this a lot lately but only because it’s so darn useful. It’s simple to chart out a story idea but hard for me to accomplish it without changing things along the way. Every time I attempt this, I’m struck by the simplicity of most concepts. The process is like diagramming sentences back in English class, that moment when your brain says “Well duh, now I get it.”

Somewhere along the way my narrative tends to bog down in details that don’t belong. This is one of those things I continually fight during the writing process.

Mind mapping software is fun!

I usually make a roadmap of where a story will go, and sometimes the route is really elaborate and others, it’s just a few scrawls on a coffee house napkin. I’ve also done the opposite and sat in front of the computer, just waiting to see what happens next. I haven’t found a singular approach that works best for me, it mostly depends on the story or the characters.

Structure works – argue all you want but it gets the job done.

I favor the kind of story structure screenwriters use because it sets up the flow, highs and lows, climax etc. at intervals that match my natural writing rhythm. This has been a recent discovery for me. I’ve been struggling with story design as recommended by several writer friends who are quite successful, but been frustrated. Now I know why. My writing regimen is a little different, my stories develop and grow at a different rate.

Vonnegut’s story structure.

I don’t write screenplays, but the structure works for me. The moral here, and you probably already know this because writers are great innovators, borrowers and diffusionists: if you find something that works…steal it, adapt it, work it.

In the end, tell your story, because that’s what really matters.

Have you found a method that best works for you? Maybe discovered a burning insight that needs sharing? Need to bemoan, gnash your teeth, and curse? I’m here. We’re all waiting.

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  1. #1 by Traci Kenworth on February 18, 2012 - 3:52 am

    Food for thought. Thanks!!

    • #2 by Leslie on February 18, 2012 - 9:37 pm

      Hope you find them snacky! = )

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