Wednesday, February 26, 2014

A Slave to Structure?


Writing is an art form, a gift that showcases one’s ability to create something others can enjoy and admire. How to create this art form varies from one writer to the next. What works for me, may not work for someone else. Therefore, it’s always a sound idea to ask others about the process. How do fellow writers write?

I’ve been particularly interested in structure, or in my case, lack of structure. Sure, I have a basic idea of what my story is about, who the main characters are, and what the ending might look like. But as I’ve discovered in the novels I’ve written thus far, sometimes structure serves to impede my writing process, rather than aid in the flow.

This is most often the case regarding the ending of the novel. As I said, I have an idea how my story will end. However, as I get deeper into the book my perspective changes. New characters emerge, incidents and conflicts erupt, and suddenly, the ending I thought was going to blow the reader away, morphs into a less than expected conclusion.

The art of creating a story that will garner praise does not always follow a straight path from beginning to end. A writer must be flexible and unafraid to veer from his outline or notes. Structure can be the very thing that causes the writer to lose focus and encounter the dreaded writer’s block.

My sense is that one must have a game plan, a template to follow. However, just as in any sport, the game plan may not be working as expected. Be ready and courageous enough to change what is not working. Your thoughts?

6 comments:

The Stiletto Gang said...

I do a little planning--because my characters are ongoing in both series, I always have something to build on as far as their personal lives. I'm always going to kill someone off, so it takes some planning to decide who it will be and why and who might have wanted the person dead (usually several people), and then I kind of stumble on from there.

The Stiletto Gang said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Marilyn Meredith a.k.a. F. M. Meredith said...

Actually, I'm the one who wrote the comment, forgot to get out of that other blog. Then I was told I did the letters and numbers wrong so did it again, and ended up with the same comment twice. Grrrr!

Julie Luek said...

I've always written nonfiction pieces for magazines. In those, there are clear, concise ways of writing to a conclusion and take-away for the reader. Writing essays or books, wow, a whole new thing for me. Finding a balance between structure and heart-flow is tough for me.

Jackie Taylor Zortman said...

It's always good to find out what the writers with lots of published books do to get to the finished product. Since I've never written fiction before, I have always known the crux of what I am going to write, but am not certain of exactly how I will end up writing it. I always love to hear how you write, John, because I so enjoy your books. Good blog!

Sharon Arthur Moore said...

John, an interesting post that raises the eternal question of how much do you plot and plan. You're right. It is different author to author, and for me, genre to genre. Mysteries make me plot more to keep it straight in my head. I've tweeted and posted to Facebook this link so more can read what you have to say.