The bones of a story, and why using a structural formula doesn’t prevent your story from being unique

“I want my story to be unique. 

Will following a structural formula like the 3 act structure mean my story becomes formulaic and predictable, just like the other books out there?”

This is a common concern.

The structure is the bones of the story. 

It’s not something the reader ever sees.  We don’t see each other’s bones.  Our bones (and muscles and connective tissues!) form and shape our bodies, making us look the way we do.  These are internal.

The foundation of a house helps decide where the front door is, where the main rooms are, where the exit is.  But when we look at a house, we can’t see the foundation. We see the paint and the decor and the design.

What people actually see when they look at you.

The way we look.  The clothes we wear, our facial expressions.

And the way we feel.  Our energy. Whether they feel welcomed or wary in our presence.

Our uniqueness comes from the textures of our skin, our scars, the ways we choose to express ourselves through clothing, etc.  Our personality.

When you’re writing a story, your experiences are one aspect of it. 

The uniqueness shines in how you tell the story.  

Two people can go on a hike together.  While one person is noticing the clouds, another is noticing the flowers.  What’s on their minds affects the experience.  One person might be worried about their pet’s lack of appetite while another person is rejuvenated by the memory of a happy moment when their father took the time to explain the science behind flower blooms.  

These details bring on the uniqueness, and are affected by the essence of a person.  They show (not tell) the experience.  

The structure shapes the story in a way that makes sense, is compelling, and takes the reader on a journey.

Structures add satisfying depth and richness.

They allow the writer to see their story in a whole new way. And let the writer walk away with a new tool for developing future stories with confidence.

I’ve never seen story structures make writing formulaic or diminish the experience for those I’ve worked with. 

Structural formulas prevent common issues.

Some issues are difficult to diagnose once a story is written. Pacing, for example.



Character development.

Structural formulas make it easier.

You don’t have to reinvent this part of the wheel–you can focus your creativity on the writing.

I encourage you to make it easier on yourself by organizing your story based on popular methods. The details are what require your attention for a unique spin.