Sunday, 20 January 2013

Structure is my friend

Along this twisty, turny writing road I have many little moments where I really *get* something and absolutely must share it.

I hope I'll have these moments for the rest of my life. I love moments like this.

Moments like today, at my writers' guild meeting (yep, we're a guild, and we have a constitution and everything) where we talk about the discipline required for screenwriting (as opposed to novels).

The dialogue has to be absolute spare - no waffling wasted words.

Which had the rest of us feeling horridly overwaffly and determined to never write screenplays if they were than flipping difficult.

BUT - it's a discipline, like any other. You either work hard at getting better and better at it, or you step out of the way.

One of the things I love about writing novels is of course creating made up words and putting in those lovely descriptions of how a character is feeling (like a mini concrete truck pouring it's load into Ondine's stomach, instead of going with a boring old "she felt nervous".)
The structure for Ondine 4: The Spring Revolution.
Results may vary

But here's the thing. Whatever the discipline, there is structure.

Pop songs - structure
Novels - structure
TV shows - structure
Movies/screenplays - that S word again.

Structure, I have come to realise after many, MANY years or writing, is my friend.

Structure, at its most basic level, shows the reader that you know what you're doing. That you have a goal and you're leading the reader there.

Here's what I need to share with all writers today. Structure is your friend too.
Structure will show you what needs to go in a story (and what you can cut out). It will show you what's missing. See those pretty coloured post-it notes? The background notes are the main steps in "The hero's journey" and the brightly coloured ones are various scenes that are going in to the story. See how I have the first half almost blocked out, then a bit is missing, then 2 bright greens, then a gap, then a few more. Looking at this structure sheet already tells me there will be a sagging middle unless I do something in those missing places - things that keep the tension nice and tight and keep the story rolling along.

Structure is my friend, and it is your friend. I could fill this blog with elements of structure that help me with my writing, and could easily help you with yours.

In fact, I probably will do that.

Tell your friends. See you back here each week. Shall we do this every weekend? Why not.
(uh-oh, have I just given myself a job?)


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