The Page a Day Writers Group

Story Structure: Understanding It Just Might Be My Seminal Moment

Posted on: February 23, 2010

It’s like being made aware of a new word — something unusual like seminal moment. It’s a brand new phrase to you and then all you do is hear it — or read it — in newspapers, magazines, talk shows, crossword puzzles. Even your teenager uses it correctly in a sentence.

Well, that’s sort of what happened to me when I became aware of the components of story structure. Now that I know what they are, I can’t stop recognizing them in every book, TV show, play and movie. At a subliminal level, I knew something had to be holding the story together, but now that glue sticks out like hitchhiker with a sore thumb.

And to this under-published novelist, this new discovery is a seminal moment. Understanding story structure has changed the way I look at my work. It answers so many questions I had about why my prose just wasn’t working.

I wonder what took me so long to find this very simple roadmap to accomplishing my long-held goal of getting published.

I’ve finally been admitted into a club of knowledgeable, talented and savvy writers who understood story structure all along. To those folks, working with the four keys to successful storytelling – setup, response, attack and resolution – are as natural as breathing air. I wonder what took me so long to find this very simple roadmap to accomplishing my long-held goal of getting published.

According to best-selling author Larry Brooks, “Without building our stories on a framework of solid story architecture, writers are blindly exploring their creative options without really understanding what they are. This, in a nutshell, is the most common explanation for work that goes unpublished.”

He adds: “Story structure is but one of six core competencies that must ultimately come to the party before a novel or screenplay becomes fully empowered. (The others are concept, character, theme, scene construction and writing voice.) And yet is at once the most complex and the most definable, the most basic of the basics. And therefore, one of the first things a writer should endeavor to wrap their head around.”

Well, Larry, I’m trying to wrap my head around it. And thanks to your box-by-box blueprint, I’m getting there. Check out Larry’s website storyfix.com. You’ll find a ton of useful information for both novel writers and screen playwrights. I’m glad I did.

–Claire Yezbak Fadden

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Who are we?

The Page a Day Writers Group is a diverse collection of wonderful writers based in San Diego, CA. We've been meeting monthly since 2004. Our primary function is in-depth writing critique, marketing and brainstorming, but there's usually some wine, chocolate and ribaldry involved too. We write fantasy, humor, literary fiction, nonfiction, romance, thrillers and YA. Join us on our journeys to publication and the wonderland beyond!

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