John Brown showed some funny photos of early-flight inventions at the LUW workshop last weekend to illustrate a point. Structure is critical. If an apparatus doesn’t get lift, it won’t fly.
Story structure needs certain elements as well, but it might not be as complicated or such a fixed formula as you thought. John says there is no Voodoo—no exact midpoint where such and such is supposed to happen, etc. All the story structure ideas out there are simply options. The main thing is to look for commonalities or patterns that go with function. These can be studied in the books we read and movies we watch. I found it freeing to realize this.
Are you ready for the common core that John has discovered? Before you salivate all over your chin, let me warn you. You probably already know the secret, but don’t feel let down because it is vital or your story won’t fly. Story structure is merely Problem Solving. That’s right. All the lists and types for story structure deal with this, no matter how it is stated. A problem is presented, the character struggles to solve it and runs into trouble along the way, and finally resolves the problem. Each of these three phases can take differing amounts of time depending on the story.
To enjoy a story a reader must: 1) Understand the problem of a character to which they can be sympathetic, like, or find interesting, 2) Believe in the reason(s) this character can’t just walk away from the problem, and 3) Be surprised or wonder what might happen next and worry about the possibilities (vs. knowing what will happen). Ultimately, we want to hope and fear for the MC.
Simple enough to understand, harder to implement. Understanding is a major first step. Now, let’s see if I can get my WIP off the ground.