on Fiction University:
It’s a less existential question than Hamlet’s, but it’s sparked fierce debate nonetheless: to structure or not to structure your novel?
As a natural-born pantser, I’ve always seen the merits of just plowing ahead with a story and letting the structure work itself out. That said, I’ve come to agree with Janice that following an established structure is much more helpful than not, especially for new authors who may feel lost or overwhelmed by the possibilities.
But having committed to structuring your novel, another important question remains: which structure would best suit the story you’re trying to tell? This post expertly weighs the pros and cons of six different story structures with regards to your writing process, but if you’re looking to choose a structure based on plot or genre, you may still be wondering which would be ideal.
Here, I’ll lay out five well-known story structures and the types of stories for which they work best, with examples to demonstrate — including a few that might surprise you! So if you’re worried your story won’t “fit” into a standard structure (or fretting that if it does fit, that means you’re hopelessly formulaic), never fear. There’s a story structure out there for everyone, and a strong story will make even the most well-worn structure feel fresh.