On Writing and Structure…

Lately I’ve been working on a series of articles that combine insights from 14 interviews on talent management (nothing memoir-related there, more’s the pity), and also consulting with an old friend on a book on innovation he’s writing. The combination of these pursuits reminded me that for just about EVERY kind of writing, there’s structure involved. Know your structures–whether it’s 5/7/5 syllables for haiku, or “Fact, Memory, Meaning” for memoir, or “AIDA” for advertising copy–and your writing will flow well.

Meditating on structure brought one of those flashes of insights that you feel in your body more than in your head. Here goes:

Sometimes writing is like building a dry stone wall.

You’ve got your stones–your chunks of text, or ideas fit for a paragraph. You want them to form a whole that’s solid and will stand over time. You want them to hold together, but not with a lot of mortar (filler words…).

So what does a stonemason do? Tries the stones together in different ways, hefting them in his hand, getting to know their peculiarities and how they would LIKE to go together. Then carefully he builds them up and the unified, solid whole emerges–the wall that will last.

So that’s all we have to do. Find how the paragraphs WANT to hang together, and slab ’em in there, with as few “It should now be clear”s as possible, but not so few that there are gaps between the stones where confusion can come whistling through.

I hope this image helps you with your writing.

-Sarah White

Image retrieved from http://www.loughrigg.org/lakesAug05/ — thanks whoever you are!

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About first person productions

My blog "True Stories Well Told" is a place for people who read and write about real life. I’ve been leading life writing groups since 2004. I teach, coach memoir writers 1:1, and help people publish and share their life stories.
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One Response to On Writing and Structure…

  1. pollycon says:

    Love it – both the message and the photo. Thanks Sarah.

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