Story is Universal. For the whole of civilization humans have told stories and most conform to a certain structure. That isn't to say you can't deviate from the structure, but if you do, you may find yourself alone. Writing is enough of a lone pastime without being isolated because you've chosen to thumb your nose at structure. Even if you decide to deviate, you must know the basics before you try something new. There is a reason the tried and true works. People long for the balance and harmony achieved in a well-told story.
When you attend to your story structure, you will find yourself seeing the
universal story in books you read, movies you see, and your life in general. The
UNIVERSAL story is within all of us. We live our lives as a (hopefully) long
story--we are born, we live and strive, and we die. Because it is our common lot
as human beings, the universal story can connect us all. Writers who tap into
the universal will see their own stories reflect this.
What is the Universal Structure?
You need a beginning, middle and an end in every story. Even a cliffhanger ending is an ending.
A proper beginning is vital and I have commented about that in a previous post.
Often writers polish the start of their story to perfection while the middle sinks, or the end flounders. Attention must be paid to all parts of the story in order for the reader to remain engaged in your story.
As an editor I often hear from clients who struggle with structure. One may say,
she has trouble with her beginning, while another complains he doesn't know how
to end the story.
One exercise I have suggested to clients is to mark where the beginning of their story ends and where the end of the story begins. If they have trouble finding either one, the story may need some help with structure.
Comments or Questions? I'd love to hear from you.