This month’s focus is Structure.
From the Latin: Structus, Meaning: I had no idea how well it can improve storytelling.
I’ve been messing with wrapping my hands around structure (obligatory cock joke) on and off for a few years now, and it never really set-in. Like, it bounced around, hollowly with all the other shit going on upstairs for a bit, but I never really got it.
K. Three acts. Yup. Yup. Inciting incident. K. Climax. Giggity. K.
Hero’s Journey; Dan Wells 7-point thinggy; Aristotle; 3-act; 4-act; 5-act.
I got that you should have structure, but never why.
Some instructors would point out it’s just the way we’ve told stories, since the dawn of time, since we were must hairy meat-creatures huddled around a fire trying not to shit ourselves every time something growled in the woods. Beginning. Middle. End.
Or: Setup. Confrontation. Resolution.
Michael Hauge’s (a noted screenwriting doctor) explanation seemed the most simple: Emotional impact.
Stories, he says, are all about invoking emotions. We go to the movies, or play story-based games, or read books to have our emotional boner’s tickled. Watch someone kick-ass, and get excited. Watch someone croak and sob our eyes out. Structure is a method that helps enhance that invocation. (Is invocation right? I know it’s a Dungeons and Dragons school of magic… but like… is it correct here? Screw it, we’re going with it.)
That’s why a hero must have greater and greater challenges. That’s why they must fail at the end of act II, so they can be reborn in act III, and why a final push must come before the climax. (eye-roll). It’s all to maximize emotional response.
If you’re a writer, and you’re having trouble wrapping your head around structure, look specifically at Screenplays. Those tight-ass, money-driven megalomaniacs in Hollywood know their shit when it comes to story structure, and it’s easy to apply to novel or short-story writing.
Hague can explain it better than I can, so I’ll leave you with a link to his website.