Sunday, April 18, 2010

Structure Girl!!! A Super Hero for Writers!

Yes, Structure Girl is my alter ego.... So if I'm the mild-mannered one you can only imagine what she's like!!! LOL

Actually she's cool as long as you are open to and know the rules. She doesn't even care if you bend or break them as long as you are doing so in an educated way.

Fiddle with the hero's arc all will-nilly? Well, then she' ll have some serious issues with you!

But overall Structure Girl is all about the 'helpful.'

Because that's what structure provides for a writer. Nothing but help.

We talked about formula a little yesterday; that was to lay the ground work for today.

You see your hero's arc is already written....

He has a wound but is in denial. Just about everyone can see the glaring, festering wound but him.

He is presented an opportunity to heal it.

He either rejects it or embraces it because he thinks the opportunity is something else (you inherit a mansion, only it's all haunted, kind of thing).

Over and over again he denounces his hero status. The villain kicks his ass, over and over. Things get worse and worse until finally the darkest moment.

At last the hero 'gets' it and accepts the mantle of hero and sets out kick some ass.

Whether he wins or not is your call, but his wound his healed, even if that means sacrificing himself.

See? The structure of the hero's arc is already laid down. It has been the same down the ages.

Now, I can imagine some of you are bristling at this point (I've taught this subject way too many times!)!

"My story is unique!!! "

Yes, you are quite right, it is. To have it readable and sellable, however, the structure beneath it is exactly what I outlined above.

"My writing is art! I'm not going to write off a boiler plate."

Ya, sorry, but the boiler plate is there whether you write off of it our not. You want to argue with someone? Pick a fight with Joseph Campbell's ghost or the other forty million scholars that have come to the same conclusion.

You see, everyone feels pretty comfortable with the 3, 5 or 7 act structure. Why is it such a stretch that there is a much more detailed structure underlying even that?

But hey, I can't stop you from rejecting the rules of story. However it is a little like refusing to learn how to type.

Then trying to write your story by hunting and pecking at the keyboard, blindfolded. You can probably accomplish something but holy cow it's going to take forever and you are going to get super frustrated and maybe even give up because the process is just too hard.

I don't want that to happen to you. As I have said, I like your story too much.

What I am suggesting is to embrace Structure. Commit to understanding it fully to help you express the unique story that is yours and yours alone. No one else can tell your story the way you can.

Imagine the Taj Mahal. It has an underlying structure. I would bet a fairly complicated one. But because of the artistry, I can't see it.

Or Cirque de Sol.

For me it is an experience that;'s nearly at the height of human artistry.

Yet under that stage, baby, there are some heavy freaking machines. There were equations, and stress tests, and all kinds of rules that had to be followed to create such beauty.

Writing is exactly the same.

The other thing that structure can give you.... if you allow it, is a sense of security. You really no longer have to ever be afraid of the 'what comes next...." problem that many writers early in their career have.

Structure Girl knows what comes next. For each and every page of the novel or script. If you know the hero's arc and a few other universal rules, you will too.

That's why the blank page never scares me anymore. I may not know the 'best' way to write forward, but I know HOW to write forward!!!

Why? Because the hero's arc, and the structure it provides, tells me what needs to happen next.

And come on, if that isn't a super power, what is?

And the best part? Everyone can achieve it!

Your Assignment:
If you are bucking this concept, re-read the blog, I swear there's helpful stuff in there. If not, peace be with you.

If you are grooving to structure, then hold on to your hats, because we are going to dive deeper and deeper into structure to provide the support you need to write your story!

Also if you would like me to check out your blog, please put the exact web address in the comments below, and I am also open to suggestions for future blog topics!

Have a great day... And go write 2 pages for the love of God! :-)

1 comment:

  1. Just found your blog through Twitter. Good advice! This and the Formula post puts those dreaded ideas in terms that are sensible and realistic... paying attention to form doesn't mean we all have to resort to writing (horrors) Harlequin romances.

    Thanks for the reality check. :)