On Writing: Abandoning Story Structure and Finding a Focused Plot

By: Tyler Franta on Unsplash.com

“I remember what it felt like, in the preparation stages of beginning a new project, asking enough of myself to be as creative as I possibly can. I remember how worried I had been in the beginning, worried about how the story would be perceived, how it would read to others. There had come a day where I simply decided that the worry wasn’t worth the trouble, and that in order to create a great piece, I had to focus my attention elsewhere. I was caught up trying to deliberate over whether my chapters were long enough, whether I was conveying the “correct” flow, and whether everything was lining up correctly. This made it incredibly difficult to get back to writing, for I was trying to connect the dots far too quickly into the story, even before I allow it to have fully developed. I am a big fan of making sure that by the end of the story, I’ve created an air of understanding and closure, all the while leaving the reader wanting more. For, I never quite liked reading a story with a cliffhanger so great, I didn’t find “any” closure by the end of the 300-page novel. I wanted it to spill over into a potential following story, and or leave the reader to question, but I wanted to fill as many plot holes as I possibly could.”

Abandoning story structure, abandoning the rules, is what allowed me to get to the finish line of my first draft. I would try to tell myself that I’d worry about the format later, that it didn’t matter in the grand scheme of my story-telling process, but it was certainly hard to put from my mind. From the time I sat out to begin writing, everything felt a little too strategic, and both the plot and my characters weren’t receiving enough attention. So, I decided to take a few minutes, refer back to my initial outline, and just see where it went. Every time I would writing to worry about whether it was “okay or not,” I would remind myself that it doesn’t really matter at this point in the process. This is why editing is such an important step in finalizing a piece. 

When I allowed myself to breathe a little easier, enjoy the ride alongside my characters, I began to see exactly where I wanted the story to go, and what I may want to alter a bit later in the editing process. I have been working on not allowing the thought of the story structure to cloud my mind as I set out to write my next piece, and I am still struggling to do so. I am simply here to say, try it sometime. Especially if you find yourself stuck, even if you have a clear idea of where the story is going. Sometimes, these things are holding us back and we don’t even realize it. 

Right now, as I’m deep into the editing process, I remember what it felt like trying to think too deeply into what the end result would be like before I even got there. I am just glad I was able to stop worrying about it when I did, because I’m not sure I’d even have a story today if I’d been stuck trying to fix every little mistake along the way. As I turn my attention to start working on smaller projects, while I wrap up editing my novel, I will keep this all in mind. I need to remind myself not to worry too much about all of the things that can be changed later, and to focus on what I’m trying to convey at each end of my story. I need to worry about the structure later, when I can take the time to tie off my loose ends, and create something I’m undoubtedly proud of. 

With all of that being said, I can’t wait to continue documenting my writing journey and sharing it with all of you. 

I hope you all have an incredibly productive rest of the week and I thank you for taking the time to read!

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