Writing is a hard medium to grasp. Good writing is self-evident, but the reasons it’s good may not be. While an interesting style or a clever turn-of-phrase can make a line stand out, the structure of what you’re writing is what makes a piece powerful.
Photo by Hans Splinter.
As Andrew Kevin Walker, writer of the blockbuster film Seven, explains, structure is what gives a piece an overall flow. It connects the beginning, the middle and the end. Structure gives everything a theme, regardless of the style it’s presented in. This can apply to persuasive essays, satirical pieces, or Hollywood movies:
Knowing where you’re going is key. If you don’t, how can you know what your theme is? How can you foreshadow anything? When you know what your ending is, then you know what you’re writing. It may change as you’re writing but I really feel like you have to have a “true north” that you’re heading toward — and that “true north” is your ending. You don’t have to know every detail of it. With Seven I always knew that there were going to be seven deadly sin murders. Therein lay the structure of it. Good cop was gonna become “wrath” in the end. With that I had a skeleton on which to build the spine of the story.
Structure is a harder element to identify because, if you do it right, it’s invisible. Everyone can see that the basic element of writing is a sentence. Not everyone can perceive a three-act structure, or notices the subtle themes that guide your writing. However, the details of your structure are what give your writing a sense of purpose.
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