The Importance of Plot and Structure

Whether you’re watching a movie or reading one of the New York Time’s Bestsellers, you will not stay entertained if they lack plot and structure of some sort.

I know there are tons of you out there saying, “My novel does not follow any of the regular rules. I have a totally unique story idea.”

Does your story have a beginning, middle, and end? Do you have some sort of action or emotional breaks that keep the story moving to that climax point? Does your character have an objective that he/she is trying to obtain?

If you answered no to all of these questions, then I must ask… “What is your story about?”

I’m going to assume that the rest of you answered yes, and we can move on.

I am not saying that you have to have it all planned out and that those writers who ‘just write’ are all wrong. Getting your ideas on paper whether you outline and research or just begin typing is the most important aspect of being a writer. I still believe in Butt in chair and hands on keyboard. The first draft is all about finishing the story. But, the second draft is about fixing plot holes and buffing out the rough edges of the story so that it’s a smoother read.

Plot and Structure helps you keep your reader turning pages. It’s the whole foundation that the story is built upon. It drives the characters and conflicts to keep the storyline moving toward the end.

Have you ever read a book that just seemed to drag on? Or go to a movie that you ended up playing on your phone instead of watching? Think back on it and try to label why you didn’t like the book or movie. What was it about the story that didn’t keep your interest? (Please try not to focus on grammar issues…we all know that kills a story faster than plot.)

Have you figured it out? Maybe you said something like, “Nothing happened for like fifty pages. They just kept circling around the guy likes the girl, but the girl wasn’t interested.” Perhaps you said, “The movie was all over the place. I couldn’t keep up with what everyone was doing or why they were doing it. It just gave me a headache.”

Both of those problems could be fixed with a little plot and structure therapy. Next week we’ll talk about Plot.