Saturday, August 10, 2013

Story structure

Again, Writer’s Digest keeps pumping out excellent blog posts. One such recent article was titled “How to Structure a Killer Novel Ending.” The ending is one of four parts of story structure and can only be as good as the story itself. Larry Brooks, author of Story Physics: Harnessing the Underlying Forces of Storytelling, wrote the article.

Brooks says the other story parts are two major plot points and a mid-point. These things go by different names: hero’s need, plot twists, hero’s quest, or other obstacles that block the hero’s path. Before you utter The End, you must have a solid story. Brooks says writers can’t invent a new story structure. They can vary the details, but are bound by our current accepted format.

A writer can’t dismiss acceptable structure as formulaic and therefore reject it. Fiction is not a process of random exploration in which characters wander here or there without direction. The writer guides, planning out where the characters are going. Solid story architecture gives them direction.

There is no blueprint for a story ending. The only rule is that if something happens in the final act, it must have been foreshadowed, or referenced, or already in play. Brooks offers guidelines. One is that the hero can’t be passive or merely narrate the ending. They must step up and take the lead, the catalyst for the ending. Also, the hero must conquer his inner demons by book’s end. He grows internally. The hero must use courage, creativity, and brilliance set the cogs in motion that lead to resolution of the story.

Again, if you’ve done the rest of the story right, the ending will fall in place. If you plotted well, created a compelling and empathetic hero’s quest and evolving story arc, you’ll know where the story needs to end. Brooks says if you strategize and plot your main story points ahead of time, even if you’re not sure of the ending, then the final act will crystalize on its own, as part of the process.

Sound story structure – you’ve got to have it.

(This article also posted at

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