Structure Issues and how to Overcome Them?

8 months ago | Tigellinus (Member)

Hey all :)

So, I've been doing a lot of self-evaluation the last week - in between studying and actually doing my exams. Last one is on Tuesday!
Anyway, it has come to my attention that, I think, one of my largest problems is structure.I know the end of a story, the beginning, and a few awesome things that I want to happen. The issue I'm finding is stringing everything together in a way that propels a story forward. So that you don't have a whole lot of unnecessary or boring scenes just to get to that one scene where you want everything to change.

Any advice?

A Conquest of the Stars: The Heart's Anguish at: https://www.acotsserial.com/

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Responses

  1. Billy Higgins Peery (Member)

    Posted 8 months ago

    I’ve struggled with this a lot. I like this simple structure I learned from the playwriting community, which applies both to the work as a whole and every scene: [Character] wants [Something], but is prevented by [Obstacle]. As a result, [What They Do To Get What They Want].

    Dan Harmon has an intense structural system, which I find a bit unwieldy, but it was helpful to look at this sort of breakdown: https://www.wired.com/2011/09/mf_harmon/

    Wildbow’s written a lot of cool stuff on structure, but I can’t find it on his blog so it must’ve been a reddit comment. As memory serves, he always asks himself, “What happens as a result of this?” and usually picks the worst result possible for the character. It’s an interesting approach for increasing tension. (Though I’ve surely butchered it.)

    "Any number of hitlers, are still not my problem." -Tempest
  2. mooderino (Member)

    Posted 7 months ago

    This is a bit simplified, but it's a good basic foundation for creating momentum. And it's short, and told by the South Park guys who have some credibility in the successful writing arena.

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vGUNqq3jVLg

  3. Lonesome Traveler (Member)

    Posted 7 months ago

    That's an interesting read, regarding Dan Harmon. He seems to have worked out something very similar to the archetypical 'Hero's Journey' underlying most media. I was always a big Community fan, and now that it's pointed out I can really see the structure. That's pretty nifty.

    The Hero's Journey is also a great subject to look into if you're examining story structure. It's certainly intense and I wouldn't advise following it step by step, but the general outline has held up for God only knows how long in writing:

    http://mythologyteacher.com/documents/TheHeroJourney.pdf

    If you're talking less about the overarching structure and more about filling 'between plot points' moments with more than just filler, I personally think the best thing you can do is to ask about what you're *changing* with each scene. You can change the characters or their relationships, change the pace, change the tone, change the story direction, etc. It doesn't have to be something big. Even 'fluff' chapters can be great if they're written consciously and purposefully. They can be a break in the tension of the plot, or offer some insight into a character in less stressful or important situations.

    ((Sidenote: the links to the first chapter at the bottom of your About page and on the table of contents are broken. I dig the site tho!))

  4. Scott Scherr (Member)

    Posted 7 months ago

    Sounds like you have a general outline as to where you intend to go. The trick now is to enjoy the journey and not be in a rush to get there. Plot points you want to reach should be like highway signs along the way, counting down the miles, but if you only have your sights set on arriving, you'll miss all the subtle bits of great storytelling opportunities found in the surrounding scenery, which should build/seed for future points, and sometimes the occasional forks where stories head in different directions, but eventually intersect. For me, I create very flexible outlines, understanding that so much could change along the way as I let my characters loose upon the pages. I can't think of a better way to define structure than through this analogy. Hope it helps ;)

    Author of the apocalyptic series, Don't Feed The Dark. http://freezombienovel.wordpress.com
  5. Tigellinus (Member)

    Posted 7 months ago

    @Billy Higgins Peery: Thanks so much for the link! I'll give it a read now! I'm sure it'll be a lot of help!

    Ohh, that is an interesting method. I must admit I've been trawling through everything Wildbow to find all the advice and wisdom.

    @Mooderino: Thank you! It'll be a pleasure to watch!

    @Lonesome Traveler: Thanks for the advice, I'll be sure to take a look at the Hero's Journey.
    Oh, and thanks for telling me about the broken links. :) They're all fixed now.

    @Scott Scherr: Haha, you have a good point.
    I've found that my story has changed quite a bit from the outline I created last year, just as the characters developed and new story avenues opened up that made old ones obsolete.
    Thanks for the advice!

    A Conquest of the Stars: The Heart's Anguish at: https://www.acotsserial.com/

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