Story Structure

Werdna Elbee

20-11-2005 13:33:14

Just thought I'd get a little writing topic going.

How do people plan out their stories? Do you prefer to just get stuck in and let your imagination guide you to the end? Or do you prefer to plan things out?

I used to write on the seat of my pants but since I've gotten into writing again I have started doing a lot of planning. Even for my shorter stories.

I have spider-diagrams with limbs containing plot set-pieces, snippets of dialogue, and twists in the tale. It suits me because I think of my stories as a series of well defined of events (in my head at least), so I can spend a day jotting all the ideas down, have a sleep and then look at it again the next morning.

When I go back to it I can use the new days fresh approach to construct an overall plot, cull poor ideas and add new content to link the ideas together.

How do the rest of you do it?

Wes Biriuk

22-11-2005 07:22:55

I find it hard to write any kind of piece. I don't know why, and I can't figure out a way of overcoming this. Sometimes I get into a really good writing mood, write a good piece then stop. I then re-read what I've done and hate it, so I throw it out. Maybe if I didn't re-read I might actually get somewhere :P

Werdna Elbee

22-11-2005 19:04:44

Perhaps you could get someone honest to read it for you, rather than judge it yourself very critically.

Muz Ashen

23-11-2005 15:12:24

I *know* the characters, build the scene and the situation, and just turn them loose on it.

I don't write the stories, I just chronicle the character's actions.

Mike Halcyon

23-11-2005 19:30:05

The worst mistake is writing without an actual idea of the story. That works only for small pieces, like 2-4 pages. If you want to write a coherent piece of work, you need to have the general story outline either in the back of your head or written out on paper. Idealically, it features an introduction, a climax, a failure, a sudden revelation, another climax, and then the ending.

Nekura Manji

26-11-2005 12:36:56

I usually just let it flow. I'll have an idea for a general premise- the way I want the story to go- then I just move through it with what I think would be good and what would work. Although, occasionally I do quite a lot of planning- but I plan by thinking out a large segment first then I'll launch myself into the story off the back of that.

Meh. It works for me. :D

Syrus Korodin

26-11-2005 12:49:31

I think up a basic plot, basic characters, and other random assorted things and I let them float around in my brain. Then I start writing, drawing on my incoherent outline whenever I need to. I hate writing outlines down, I do everything that needs to be done in my head.

And voila, i'm Krathtastic.


26-11-2005 15:15:34

I find that for short stuff, I just go at it, stare at my blank word processor and then BOOM! It comes to me and I write it.

With longer stuff, I write in depth stuff on all charactors, protagonists, antagonists, supporting charactors and write background info on the plot. I dont 'plan' it out, but I have a general Idea and I know my charactors making it easier to write about what they do.

Werdna Elbee

27-11-2005 05:30:01

So planning or no planning, who writes their story from beginning to end? Or do you write chunks of it here and there?

I'm finding myself writing my current large story in a funny order. To be fair, there are a few flashback moments that are pretty self contained, but I also wrote my final scenes first because they were the most important bits I wanted to express.

Muz Ashen

28-11-2005 14:05:49

I write my larger pieces more or less in order...

sometimes, the mood will strike me and I'll do something with them that happens a bit further on, but still, generally, not too far out of line.

Most importantly, THE MOST CRUCIAL part of any story is an awesome first paragraph. Without that, no one will bother reading about your incredibly fleshed out characters, your intricately detailed plotline, or your richly described environments.

And there was a time when I used to plan out my works... it just ended up being far too predictable for me. So, ten thousand pages ago, I did it... and i kinda got past it. But that's just me and my madness talking there.

Try doing one with planning, and one without. See which way works best for you. You may find some cool results with both ways.

See you in the Writer's Corner!

Mike Halcyon

28-11-2005 18:44:18

I'm only writing chronologically - this has several reasons:

a) I'm on par with the reader and the story's development - that means I know exactly what the reader knows at this moment in the story (well, yeah, I planned it out - but you know what I mean).

b) If I have multiple storylines, writing chronologically gives me the opportunity to cycle through them. This prevents me from getting bored by the same characters and story arcs all the way.

c) It is easier to link chapters.

d) There are interesting chapters and there are boring chapters. Sometimes, I have really cool ideas for settings, quotes or general actions in later chapters. If I allow myself to write them only when I arrive there, I force myself through the more boring chapters, eventually 'rewarding' myself by being able to finally write this cool scene I have in my mind the entire time.

edit: [Expletive Deleted F-word]ing "b)"-smilie


01-12-2005 18:16:15

I write it in order. But as I'm writing I might stop and say "Wow, the last 5 pages sucked." Or "The last 5 pages didnt make sense." And I'll scrap them, call that my '1st draft' take the pages from before the 5 bad ones and write from there.


03-01-2006 19:14:21

Syd Field's three-act structure for screenwriting is simple and efficient: Act I, Plot Point* 1 at page 30, Act II, PP 2 at p. 90, Act III, end page 120.

(*Plot Point being an event or action that "spins" the story into a new direction -- i.e., the reluctant hero's wife is brutally slain at the end of Act I, sending him on a journey for revenge through Act II).

A newer method gaining popularity is the Writer's Boot Camp "3-6-3." It sub-dvides the three acts, where the protagonist experiences "revelations" about every 10 pages or so.


07-01-2006 11:54:28

I know I'm a Sith, but most of my activity is from writing. I tend to think of a premise, then I'll note it down on paper. Unless the location is story-specific I'll try and choose a place that offers a lot of possibilities. I'll note down some pertinent info about characters I know I'm gonna use, and some notes about the locations on a seperate sheet. Then I go through the story chronologically, but I do it in noteform, writing a paragraph of notes per story point. Then I go back and flesh out these notes into the story proper. Each paragraph of notes tends to relate to a page or 2 of story. This allows me to review my notes as I write the story. Effectively I redraft it while writing it. Seems to work for me though - by the time I've got the notes down and it comes to filling them out, the story pretty much writes itself...


23-01-2006 19:46:10

Thats an interesting idea.

On another point:

Does anyone else have problems with the middle of the story. I can write the intro, and I can write the climax, but I am having some trouble with longer pices in filling in the inbetweens, and still keeping it intyeresting.


26-01-2006 04:33:49

For me i plan how i basicly want it to go but usually from the start i just start writing then after a few pages i check back and read and re-write it.


29-01-2006 16:44:51

Thats what I basically do.


15-11-2006 21:56:41

I'm a sith...but I love to write, and here are my little points:

First I think up a general plotline...

Then, I plan out the skeleton in my mind.

Then, I let it flow into the climax, then down the hill again.


18-11-2006 19:54:36

For shorter pieces (1 - 4):

I get a very general idea of what's going to be happening, and then I just write.

For longer pieces (5 - 50):

I plan out a fairly specific and intricate outline before writing, I write a couple sentences based on my outline, test out the framework, and then I write.

For extremely long pieces (50+):

I plan way before writing in my head, then I write it all down on paper and sort it out into the order I want to write it in. Then, I check out the framework (like for longer pieces) and write segments at a time: never more than ten pages at a time.


24-04-2007 00:44:47

When I run out of ideas and don't know what to write, I usually start with the characters.
Planning on what the character's like brings ideas on how the story should be written and when the two met, ideas flowing in.

My five cents (inflation, you know)

Sanarai Iridana

16-04-2011 17:16:15

Usually, I just start writing. No planning, no pre-writing, none of that. Later, once I get a few pages down, I'll edit it and change things and do a spell-check, things like that. But when it comes to the middle of a story, I just have a hard time writing it. I know what's going to happen, I know how I want it to happen, I just can't find the correct words to put down.