Understanding Story Structure 2018

Laurel Cohn

Sunday 25 February 2018, 10am-4pm

A story is like a creature. It can have a multitude of limbs and unusual features, but it needs to be able to stand on its own and deliver its creator’s intent. In order to be viable, your story needs to have healthy vital organs and a strong spine. In this workshop I introduce tools and strategies that allow writers to check that their story has the key elements required to carry a compelling story. Being able to identify the backbone of the story is crucial to helping you work out whether you have unwanted growths that need to be excised or require additional material needed for balance. Participants will have the opportunity to practise these strategies in their own work.

This workshop will address some of the common structural issues found in manuscripts by editors and publishers. While there is no right structure, there are tools and strategies that writers can learn to use to find the best possible structure for their story. This requires a clear understanding of the story itself. This workshop helps writers identify the ‘vital organs’ in their work: the story essence, the major dramatic question and the central event.

Using three short texts that will be distributed for all to read (fiction and non-fiction), we will practise identifying these vital organs and discus their relation to aspects of story structure, including back story and exposition. Visual strategies such as storyboarding will be introduced to help writers understand what the current structure of their draft is and how to strengthen it.

Expected Learning Outcomes

  1. An understanding of what story structure is and why it is important.
  2. Specific tools and strategies to strengthen the story structure.
  3. Practise with using the tools and strategies discussed.

Participant Requirements

Pen and paper. Participants are invited to bring works-in-progress.

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