Structural Integrity

Regarding stories, I’m a very linear thinker. I got from point A to point B in straight lines. Ask me to write a convoluted story with double-crosses, hidden agendas, and double-meanings to everything, and I would have a difficult time of things. While I do plan stories out in advance, my brain just doesn’t think in such a way to make this very possible. This isn’t to say I don’t or won’t try such things because I love stories like that, but this is all just lead-in to how I like to structure stories and why I think it works (at least for me).

I think of story structure much like stairs, a connected series of flights, supported underneath at each landing by columns. I’m rather fond of using architectural analogies for writing. So,

when you build your house, do you put in the stairs first (these are you various plot lines)? No, you construct the frame of the house first, built upon a foundation. The foundation is the basis of the story, your themes and goals. Basically, why are you writing the story? In Deadworld, the main goal is to find and defeat the bad guy. The theme revolves around lives lost (both physically and emotionally) and learning how to get them back. The framwork, the walls, pillars, and such are the main turning points of the story, the places at which the themes and goals reach a certain stage of development, be it a crisis, a revelation or what have you. When I plot, this is what I work on the most. What are those important elements that will lead the characters from the bottom to the top? It’s important to not only understand how they relate to what has gone before but also what is coming up. Each set of stairs here is a particular plotline, whether it’s the action or character development. Each chapter in the plotline is a step on these stairs leading from one base of support to another. In the end, they all lead to the top, where hopefully the whole structure is fully realized.

So, I’m a bit anal in how I do this. I like structure. It helps me make sense of things. I like to see things from one point to the next, in nice linear patterns. It helps me, and hopefully for some of you, it’ll allow some insight as well. Happy reading/writing everyone!


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