This week, I’ve taken a lesson from Writing Excuses and tried the seven point story structure. It’s not the first structured plotting tool I’ve used, and it won’t be the last, but it was particularly useful.
I won’t go into the seven points – you can get that from the Writing Excuses episode or Dan Wells’s lecture. The important thing is that you plan your writing around seven key moments, most of them involving significant change. I found that seven points was pretty much a perfect amount for a short story. I could see how it would run to a decent length, but could still fit into a few thousand words.
The seven points helped to give focus to a story I’d been struggling with. In particular, working out the end state first and then starting from the opposite point gave the story and central character a dynamic arc they’d previously been lacking. Filling those seven key points also added a sense of transformation and tension that my story had previously lacked.
Seven point structure doesn’t do everything, by any means. I had to do a lot of thinking, and use another writing tool, before I even started with it. But I find that any new approach to structuring my thinking is useful, just to give me a different perspective, and I’ll be coming back to this one.
And best of all, I think my previously mentioned post-deluvian pirate story might now work. Though only if I can stop making excuses and get back to writing…