Next week I’m going to offer a presentation to a group of young writers. What I want to do is share what I’ve learned on my journey through the apprentice stage of writing – because it shouldn’t have been so hard!
I want to share how I learned to understand structure. Maybe I should put that word in capital letters, because it’s important. More important than having a ‘knack’ or a ‘gift’ or a good work ethic.
Why? Because 80% of the work that goes into story is polished and shined and pummeled into shape by using the methodology and options available through structure.
No kidding. I could’ve saved myself from retiring so many novels and stories if I’d understood structure.
Do you understand structure? Know what it is and how to use it to create a good story, well told?
This is the blurb for the presentation:
Structure – From Concept to Storyboard (an introduction)
There may be no rules in Art, but there will be no Art without a solid and practical understanding of Craft.
Structure is one of the elements of Craft for the Art of Writing.
Structure is: what comes first, what comes next, what goes where, and why; it is the movement of scenes – the action-reaction, goal-obstacle, who-where – through the story that takes the reader to ‘the end’.
So, if you want your stories to have everything leveraged to a higher level just when it’s most needed, better and more compelling milestones, more effective scenes that draw the reader into turning the next page, and the next … and the next, then you need to understand what structure is, and how it makes a story memorable/powerful/compelling.
And my resources: Save the Cat, by Blake Snyder (should be read first, to get a cool intro and find the categories for your story); Story Engineering, by Larry Brooks (read second to get a deep and thorough understanding). That will do for now, but Syd Field should also be considered an expert.
Why do I think it’s important?
Because whether the story is a cave painting, a greek play, a 3-Act drama, a classic book, a modern novel, a radio-play, a b&W movie, a CGI-chair-shaking epic, or a 4-D, goggles-reqd futurist movie, the story needs to be ‘felt’ by the audience. Do you think a reader, caught up in the moment of high drama in a story, is going to care whether the grammar is perfect? Or if there are no $5 words? Or that the sentences are long and drifty and dreamy?
I don’t, because when I’m in a good story, well told – it doesn’t matter. The only thing that matters is the story and ‘what happens next’ and what compels me to turn the next page.
And that, in a nutshell, is why structure is 80% of the first work effort of a new story, and why you need to know it.
Are you going to be there?
And what it’s based on: here.