Okay, first off-- the winners from the You Are a Real Writer contest have been chosen!
Winner of the $10 gift card: Adrianne Russell!
Winner of the 10 page critique: Tony Dutson!
Winner of the 5 page critique: Reece Hanzon!
Congrats to the winners, and thanks again to the rest of all you real writers for your awesomeness. :)
Now, onto the HWC post. When I was on the track team in high school, we had a "guest" coach for a few days. He'd run (and won) more marathons than I even knew existed, and he taught me the greatest thing I ever learned in running: form. I didn't even know there was such a thing as proper running form, but the way you move your arms, lean your body, and point your feet all plays into becoming a better runner. From one track meet to the next, I shaved a full 30 seconds off my race time using this form (which doesn't sound like much, but was pretty impressive for me).
In writing, structure is much the same way.
I never used to use any kind of structure in my stories, at least not consciously. I didn't want my books encumbered by the form and tedium of anything as banal as the three-act structure. And that was okay. My writing was decent. However, when I grudgingly learned all the points of the three-act structure and saw how it worked for a myriad of different books and movies, I learned something important.
Applying a structure to my writing didn't encumber or hold back my story-- it actually freed me to tell the story in a more compelling way. When I began to write with a full understanding of structure, all of a sudden my stories had tighter pacing, natural-flowing plot lines, and more room to play around with the actual story idea. Oddly enough, structure gave me more freedom. I was no longer trapped by writer's block, or struggling to come up with a new scene. I knew where I was headed, so I could explore all different routes to get there instead of feeling my way blindly.
Whether you're a plotter or a pantser, it's worth it to know some form of story structure!
Weekly stats: 2.5 miles (kinda pathetic this week, but after some knee pain early in the week, I scaled back to make sure I didn't injure myself)
In-flight entertainment favorite: Writing Excuses podcast: Death
Coolest moment: Uh, maybe being able to sleep in on the day I took off? :)
Hardest moment: Forcing myself to wake up the day AFTER the day I took off.
So, my friends, do you use any kind of structure when you write? Does it help you or is it hard for you? Or is it both helpful and hard?