There are more than a few writers and teachers out there, many of them orders of magnitude more famous than I am (not hard to do), who don’t like to compartmentalize or even attempt to define the sequential parts and essential milestones of a story’s structure. Too formulaic, they say. Takes the fun and creativity out of it, they claim. A write-by-the-numbers strategy for hacks, a vocal few plead.
When they do talk about story structure, they tend to dress it up with descriptions that are less engineering-speak in nature — “the hero’s journey” … “the inciting incident” … “the turn” — and are more appropriate to a lit class at Oxford. Makes them sound — or more accurately, feel — more writerly. Or perhaps they just aren’t used to accessing their left brain for this very right- brained thing we call storytelling.
What’s interesting is that the stories these writers create, especially if they’re published, and especially the stories they use as examples in their teaching, follow pretty much the same structural paradigm. And given that this isn’t an exact science, that puts them in this left-brained ballgame whether they want to wear the uniform or not.
None of how story structure is labeled out there in workshop land is inherently wrong, nor does it really matter. What you call it is far less important than how you implement it. And even before that, the extent to which you understand it.
Thank God for screenwriters. Because they call it like it is. In fact, most of them think Oxford is a loafer.
The excerpt is retrieved from the book ‘Story Engineering’