Story Structure for Dummies

A Ceiling-Cracking Epiphany for Newer and Unaware Writers

An Explanation of the Inevitable for Frustrated Practitioners

There was a time, a decade or so, when you couldn’t write a headline like that. Because it seems to say one of two things: if you don’t understand this then you’re a dummy… or… you know you’re not a dummy so you can skip this one.

Both of those are unfortunate misperceptions.

Thanks to the popular line of books that play off this title, we now understand that this means something entirely different. A “X for Dummies” book means you are about to encounter that which is by nature complex explained in simple (or simpler) and more accessible terms compared to the conventional wisdom of that topic.

Income Taxes for Dummies, for example. Doesn’t mean you’re not smart, it just means you haven’t been shown around a Form 1040 to the extent necessary to work with one on a professional level.

And so it is here. You seek to become a professional-level storyteller. This is what, at square one, you need to understand.

Make no mistake, story structure is a can of  worms.

In fact, it is something that can, at times, make all of us, even the best of us, feel like a dummy.

Structure is so complicated because it has so many moving parts, each with rationale and mission-driven contexts behind it, and it is challenging because it is less than completely precise. It’s not math, we’re looking beneath the narrative of a story to see how it works, rather than the specifics of what happens.

So much easier to suggest that we simply step up to the tee and take a swing, you can always hit out of the trees later.

To make this even fuzzier, there are credible writing teachers and guru-types out there that either teach it in an incomplete or imprecise way, or they don’t believe in it at all.

And yet, when you see it, you can’t unsee it.

And you will see it if you look for it.

You will find  a clear and rather simplistic structural model within nearly every publishable novel that you read and every movie that you see.

One model.  With many variable options.  But nonetheless… one model.

Hear this, and hear it clearly: Story does NOT trump structure. Story IS structure.

The guy who wrote a book by that title is highly credible, but the title of that book is toxic. Because he’s talking about how you write, not what you end up writing — or need to end up writing — that becomes publishable. It’s a process thing, style thing, a preference thing… one that leads you to the same outcome as someone who begins the process with structure.

Structure is like bones within a human being… you can preach muscle building and blood pressure and emotional health all you want, because they are important to the building of a whole healthy person, but at the end of the day it’s all hanging on a skeleton. There’s no life at all until that structural base is covered.

That debate is for another post… but at the end of the day it’s not a debate at all.

When your story works – however you got there – it will be, to a great extent, because you nailed the structure. And – here’s what newer writers don’t get – it will be a structure that is waiting for you to find it, a universal story model, rather than something you believe you made up on your own, following the organic demands of the story you are telling.

That’s what happens when you write drafts.

You add pace, increase dramatic tension, build intrigue, demonstrate character within time and place, polish the edges. When those things don’t work as well as they should, you change it up and write another draft. And guess what – that draft will take you closer to the very structural model that has been there waiting all along.

Because the truth is, the proven universal fact of it is, stories work better that way. Exceptions – not in process, but in outcome – are very difficult to find in modern commercial storytelling.

So if you want to play in that game, this stuff is something you need to understand.

Allow me to boil it down into something excruciatingly simple.

If you only get this much, without knowing or caring about what’s behind these three little bullets, you will have crossed over into another realm as a storyteller.  You may, in fact, be able to instinctively construct a novel that works, on this alone.

Because this is what professional story tellers know. No matter how they write, whatever their process, this is where their stories end up.

Here is it:

Your story needs to have at least three major twists — plot twists, or major character arc moments — in its linear structure.

There are names for all three, and entire chapters of illumination explaining all three of them. Let’s skip that. This is the 101 – you need to change the direction of your story, you need to twist it, a minimum of three times for it to work in an optimally effective manner.

Can you have more than three plot twists? Absolutely. Have as many as you want. The Davinci Code, for example, has dozens of plot twists. As do most mysteries and thrillers, even romances. But all of those twists either lead to, or respond to, one of these three major story pillars, which appear at roughly the same spot in any story.

That’s the one — the target placement — the cynics get all sweaty about. But fact is, when you grab any successful story off the shelf, it’ll be there. They will be right there, in those three spots. Donna Tart did in her Pulitzer Prize winning novel, The Goldfinch. Gillian Flynn did it in Gone Girl, and all of her other novels. Michael Connelly and David Baldacci and Nora Roberts – name your hero – do it in all of their stories.

Are you doing it? This is a wake-up call if you’re not.

Three major story-shifting plot twists. At roughly the same specific places in a story. That’s the difference between a newbie, an amateur, a dreamer… and someone with one foot through the door marked PROFESSIONAL.

The First Plot Twist

Welcome to the most important moment in a story. Allow me use an analogy to introduce it to you.

A flight on an airliner begins with the take-off, right? You would think so, at a glance. But so much needs to happen before the wheels safely leave the runway. If those things don’t happen, the airplane and the people in it may not survive the journey.

You need a flight plan. A destination. An understanding of the weather to be encountered. An awareness of other airplanes along the route. A level of skill on the part of the people flying it. Someone guiding you through the clouds. You need to put fuel in the tanks. You need to be sure all the moving parts of the machine are in working order.

All that, before the journey begins.

So it is with your story. Hopefully the airliner isn’t dealing with a drama before takeoff, but your story needs to.

Your story is ultimately about (but not yet, that’s the point here) a hero’s journey: the pursuit of a goal or a need or an opportunity (often – usually in fact – resulting in something that must be solved, avoided, treated, discovered or otherwise defeated). That’s when the story begins. It’s when the story’s wheels leave the runway.

And as it is within the analogy, so much needs to happen before that moment arrives.

Prior to that moment – the most important moment in your story – you need to setup the launch of that hero’s new path. You introduce the hero doing something else before the specific story itself plops into their lap. We see what will be at stake when it does. We see who and what might be a problem down the road (like, if the story is about a disease, we see symptoms here, before a diagnosis hits the page). We sense the seeds of backstory that may become problematic.

Some writers like to open big, with something massively dramatic and relevant. So be it – that’s called a hook. But be clear,this is not a First Plot Point. Because a properly rendered hook does not launch the full core story, though it may indeed launch it in a preliminary way, or simply preview it, in that case with something new happening later at the FPP, which is the major twist that fully puts the dramatic proposition into play.

Newbies confuse the hook and the First Plot Point. Now you know. They are very different things.

With all this setup narrative in place, then you lower the story-problem onto the shoulders of your hero. Something happens that changes – twists – the story, which until now has been about something else, something prior to and even disconnected to the story you are now telling.

Like, for example, a story about someone winning the lottery. The core dramatic story begins when the hero does, in fact, win the lottery.  All kinds of new pressures and opportunities appear. But the story works better – it works best – when the reader comes to know the character and understand how and why winning the lottery matters – indeed, why the hero bought a ticket in the first place – before the winning numbers are announced. So when it happens, we feel something. We empathize.

This first twist is called The First Plot Point. It is the most important moment in a story.

You’ll see this in virtually every story you encounter, in some recognizable form. Test it, tonight in fact – rent a movie, and notice how the core dramatic story fully manifests about 20 or so minutes in. Prior to that we met the hero, we observed the world she/he lives in, see things that may come into play later, we sense the stakes being built… all prior to the story-bomb going off.

I saw “The Theory of Everything” yesterday. Great story.  Do you think it opens with Stephen Hawking in a wheelchair? Of course not. We get 20 minutes of setup first… coming to know and like him as a fully functional, healthy young genius, chasing his dream, falling in love… and, with the seemingly inconsequential moment or two when his hands shake or he moves awkwardly. We come to care about him as this builds toward – sets-up – something.

The First Plot Point happens when he takes his first fall, a horrific face plant, resulting in his ALS diagnosis.  Which IS the core story – his journey in dealing with that disease. It launches at the First Plot Point.

Every time. Test it.

Are you doing that in your story? If not, then you’re operating outside of the expectations of a professionally-structured story.

Have you seen the film or read the book Gone Girl?   (Spoilers ahead.) The news that the wife is missing hits the story on Page 5. A hook. Easily misunderstood by the newer writer as the first major story twist. No, it is indeed “a” plot twist, but it is only an inciting incident (rather major, but that isn’t the point – it is an element of the setup only), rather than the first plot point itself. Those who would argue otherwise are dealing with semantics.

The First Plot Point occurs later, at about the 25th percentile mark, when the wife confesses in her diary that she believes her husband may try to kill her.  Now, in that moment, it’s on.

It changes everything. It actually fully launches the core story of the novel. Everything prior to this has been a setup for it. The reader/viewer has been sucked in, completely fooled. This facade continues until later (at the second major plot twist), but the core dramatic story is now fully in play, in a way it wasn’t a page/minute earlier.

The Second Plot Twist

This one is easy to nail, and perhaps the most intuitive plot twist of all. It takes place as close to the exact middle of your story as possible. It is when what we thought was going on shifts somehow.  It either changes or is illuminated to an extent it alters the hero’s path going forward.

Look for this, it’s in every story that works. Is it in yours? It needs to be.

In Gone Girl, it is when the point of view switches to that of the missing wife, via her diary entries.  Suddenly we learn about her plans and the means of her deception… something we weren’t even sure was a deception. Until now. Everything changes. It occurs at the 52nd percentile mark in the novel, at at the exact middle of the movie.

Not a coincidence, by the way.

Everything changes.

But notice the hero hasn’t remotely solved the problem or won the day at this point. No, you save that until the end. This midpoint change is there to cause the hero to take new and/or stronger action, to shift from a response mode into a more proactive attack mode in confronting whatever has been in her/his way.

Notice that in the scenes after this midpoint, this is precisely what happens – the husband goes to war against the implication that he has killed his wife.

The Third Plot Twist

Simply put, you need to change things up in a major way at least one more time… and at a specific time within the narrative: roughly the three-quarter mark. It’s called The Second Plot Point, and how it looks depends on the nature and direction of what has been in play prior to that moment.

Suffice it to say, though, that this twist (new story information) opens the final floodgates of an inevitable confrontation between the hero and whatever blocks her/his path. It’s usually unexpected, or it may have been there all along but now, through new information or revelation, is suddenly rendered meaningful. You get to say what it is… as long as it adds tension and noticeably accelerates the pace toward a final confrontation, climax and resolution.

In Gone Girl the third (2nd Plot Point) twist is incredibly easy to spot. The wife slits the throat of her lover, which allows her to return to her old life with a credible story, one that will paint her as a hero courageously emerging from a victim scenario (and thus explaining her absence, while vindicating her husband), and entrap her husband into a devil’s-deal pact.

It is really that simple?

Well, no. But it’s really the first thing you see, or should see, when you observe a story that works, and then, when you set out to write one. It’s the 101 of story structure, and if you never get your head wrapped around it, all the artful character and thematic chops and on the planet won’t fully serve you.

These three plot twists are the weight-bearing foundations that support the entire story itself. It is the engine of dramatic plot and the fuel for character development.

They are always there. Structure doesn’t care what you call it, doesn’t care that you believe you are discovering it for yourself as you feel your way through a story… it awaits as the final form of pretty much every modern commercial story that works.

Again, stories are like taxes in that regard.  Go ahead, get creative.  But mess with the tax laws and there will be consequences.

This doesn’t mean you were a dummy if you didn’t know this. It is surprising – shocking, actually – how seldom, and how confusingly this basic truth about storytelling is covered within the public writing conversation.

Be confused no more. Everything else in your story stems from this square one inevitability – your story will work better – best – when you twist it three times, at those three target locations. From there the playing field widens to allow virtually anything and everything you’d like to throw into your story.

****

Want more depth on this? Use the Search function here on Storyfix, there are dozens of posts on structure, plot points and story architecture. Or, consider my writing books, Story Engineering and Story Physics, both of which go deep into the powerful impact and technical demands of these essential story elements.

12 Comments

Filed under Write better (tips and techniques)

12 Responses to Story Structure for Dummies

  1. Larry, I still remember that day in February, 2011 when I found your – this – site. I had written a couple of stories, but they weren’t *right*. I didn’t know why.

    I knew stories had a beginning, middle and end. Hell, I knew that in 1975, in grade 11. But nobody had ever told me what separated the beginning from the middle, or the middle from the end.

    Or how long each were with respect to the other.

    As I’ve mentioned before, I’ve been an engineer for almost 30 years now. Defining structure is my livelihood. When you cracked this story structure nut for me, it was like walking out of a cave. Now I don’t consider a story broken until I know these major points, and how to wrap the end so it references the beginning.

    Thanks again. The help was infinitely valuable.

  2. Jason Waskiewicz

    I have nothing new to add to this except to say that it works. I have 9 failed novels in my basement. They were written as the muse struck me. After #9 I decided I wasn’t cut out to be a writer. Luckily, a new character came into my head and brought a nifty setting with him and I just couldn’t get him out of my head.

    So, I did a lot of things differently. I had read K.M. Weiland’s book about planning, so I spent a lot of time planning the book instead of writing it. Then I stumbled across Larry Brooks’ book and discovered the other missing piece: story structure. So, I outlined and planned around this plot points and the pinch points described in the book.

    Now that I’m in the editing phase on draft 3 of the novel, these plot points are still handy because they tell me that my first quarter is still too long. They also serve as the major events to turn the plot.

    I don’t know if I’m a good writer. This book may never be good enough for publication. What I do know is that planning and using these plot points have made this a much better book than anything I’ve ever written before. I have never liked a novel well enough to do a second draft, let alone a third draft, so this is exciting to me.

  3. Martha Miller

    Such an elegantly simple explanation of what at first ‘feels’ like a complicated theory . . . but you’re absolutely right. And it is really simple when you understand it. I’ve always been grateful for those classes of yours I was lucky enough to be in. And what I learned in your classes goes right on working for me. Thanks, Larry, for the demystification!

  4. As a guy who’s made his living making computers understandable to normal human beings, I am impressed with your ability to make it this simple. Bravo.

  5. Kerry Boytzun

    Ironically, if you are at a site like Larry’s, part of you is opening to the idea that maybe you don’t know everything about creating fiction. Otherwise why are you here?

    Ironically, to be a better writer, it’s no different than becoming a great martial artist. You’r not here to fight, you’re here to learn about the details, the structure and moves of physical combat.

    Thus, with fiction, you’re not here to write…you’re here to learn. Until that happens, you won’t write anything worth reading. Anybody can take a keyboard and start typing, as can anybody go to a bar and start a fight. Maybe after life hands you your a$$ a few times as a friend tells me–you will become interested in the details.

    Story involves the mind. Special effects (explosions, acrobatics) involve the eyes. There is a difference–take note. All flash and no substance might work for a two hour movie (zombieville), but it will never work for a novel.

    Yeah I know my posts are too long for those who just want to “get to the answer”. If this is you, then that IS why you can’t create a decent story. Learning takes TIME through EXPERIENCE.

    A story is digested via the mind, no exceptions. A story is a problem that wasn’t there before, with the supporting structure to understand and thus solve it. It’s mathematical. No exceptions.

    Consider that your mind naturally wants to figure out the cause of a problem and solve it. For some, this is a vocation. Crime detectives will go backwards in time from the scene of a crime, to find the cause. After the cause, if the criminals are still alive, then they need to be confronted and dealt with. This is of course for crimes that require detective work! Good stories require thought and consideration on the mind of the reader, even the “light hearted comedies” (ask a comedian if the jokes had to be worked at in order to be funny…that’s a science all its own).

    The structure of a situational life problem (boy meets girl, mouse meets cat) represents a map of the process of the mind, BUT only a sane mind. Today’s “normal” isn’t sane or insane, but has become un-sane. Sanity is about solving your own problems–being self responsible. However, I see in society many expressions of people’s minds who are trying to skip steps in the process. It’s called Google or “just give me the answer”.

    This attitude of acquiring information that somebody else went through the full-monty for–has created a weakened mind. Not to mention an attitude of entitlement: just gimmie the answer–I showed up for class–gimmie the degree (not exaggerating here–professors tell me as much).

    Ironically, the Internet access of information has actually made the life experience of SELF learning–harder–because your mind’s muscles of solving problems–have atrophied. I see this everywhere now, where fewer and fewer people can solve their own problems. Yes the DIY videos are great BUT what are you doing to figure something out? People don’t know how to make food–they use shortcuts and buy it, and even worse can’t cook.

    BTW, many people will have already stopped reading what I am typing because they don’t think what I am saying has “anything” to do with writing better story. Kerry, just shut up, and give me a Tweet on how to write a great story. Yes, and that IS the problem. Tweeting…Okay for those who want the Tweet, here it is: “Want to write a great story? Pay someone else who knows how. Or learn how to do it yourself. Tip: it’s complicated.”

    To those still reading, I’ll carry on…

    To apply the above psychological angle to what Larry wrote, let’s tackle the story about someone winning the lottery. Obviously, the story wouldn’t shared via the water cooler gossip, “Did you hear about the guy who won 300 million dollars and didn’t change a thing? And then he grew old and died?” Gee, is that a story? No, it’s not a story because nothing CHANGED, no problem for the mind to solve. The guy continued to work his job at the meat packing plant until he couldn’t do it anymore, and then he hung around and died of old age. Oh, he didn’t even tell anyone he won the money. What is the biggest question you should ask about such a guy? “Why did he buy the ticket in the first place if he wasn’t gonna do anything DIFFERENT?”

    No, the implication of a story is just like gossip, where something changed, and it caused a problem. (That’s where you go, so what did he do NEXT?). It’s a problem to figure out, because LIFE is about figuring out your issues (no it is NOT about getting new phones and trying to have the most junk before you die).

    So ask yourself, from a psychological point of view: why did the hero buy a ticket in the first place, and how does that RELATE to the eventual problems the new wealth created?

    Ultimately real life will reveal that the themes in our psyche, okay the common patterns of the attitudes we hold, will not change unless we are “required” to, either because of want–or necessity. Some describe this as being “steadfast” or “changing”. The difference between the successful marriage that’s enjoyable, or a divorce or a marriage that can grow. Substitute any endeavor for marriage. In the case of the lottery ticket winner, what the guy was like before he won the ticket will explain how he reacts to the problems the wealth now creates.

    While I’m thinking about it, that reaction is “conflict”, both internal and external to the character. Take the TV series, Doc Martin. I’ve been watching it for now, six seasons and Doc Martin’s character growth is glacially slow, and doesn’t add up psychologically. For those who can’t see the psychological issues, the other way of saying it is it’s “repetitive and thus boring”. Yes, Martin is a steadfast a$$hole due to his childhood upbringing, but his love for his wife–does NOT significantly change him. Snooze. After six seasons, are the writers in a coma? Dull and repetitive. Why do I watch? Because my wife loves the ambiance of the show. Yes, it has a nice ambiance. Great. How exciting. Don’t write your novel like this show. It’s called “growth” that “sticks” (that this show is missing).

    It’s up to you as a writer to have an idea of psychology. This goes back to the dawn of time and has been written about through fable and mythology. The best writers use this stuff either knowingly or by intuition. The lousy writers–not so much.

    Kerry

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  7. Robert Jones

    @Kerry–Long posts? Are there any other kind?

    Several years ago, I discover a message board for hobbyists. I joined the board and, like most writers in the making, spewed many words and opinions. Some of the feedback I got told me that my posts were too long and some folks didn’t have time to sit and read all that. Time over the past 25-30 years has become a commodity that a lot of people just don’t have. Or haven’t you heard? Other folks wondered who I was and why the new guy said so much so quickly. That’s another unspoken rule in any group. Pay your dues and don’t say too much too soon because others who have been with the group longer have earned the right of first speak. Maybe you’ve heard that one too.

    I tried to curb the urge to type more words than I should. I really did. But it just wasn’t me. Maybe a year goes by before others began to speak up. And their response was that they enjoyed reading the little chapters of a book I’ve written on this subject or that. And though they didn’t always comment, they’ve read all my babble with interest. People are always trying to bypass rules with new rules. They’ll call it “No rules allowed,” but by decreeing it have only replaced one rule with another. And when they fail in their false logic, then what?

    I think it goes along with what Larry said about structure always being there whether you actively seek it or stumble across it. And people are always fighting it in just about all aspects of life. Story structure is the glue that binds. I’ve ran in circles with an incomplete picture of it for years.

    Maybe it’s all sociological. I mean, we can allow our kids to be raised by a nanny, or an institution because there’s not enough time in the day to do it ourselves. So if the family unit is that much of a bother, learning structure in other areas of life is just asking the impossible, right? In the end however, all those kids from an absent minded generation are going to have to start figuring things out for themselves. The flaw in “separate and segregate” is that it works when you break up a group, or unit. But when you have no more group, leave the individual on their own, one of two things happens: they die, or they learn to fight back on their own.

    Writers are always on their own with their stories. And the same rules apply. Or, if you hate the sound of the word “rule,” then look at it as a time tested, repetition of man’s history: You figure out how to survive in any arena by learning the lingo, the moves–or you’re dead. Technology may be evolving, but people stay the same. And for many, it isn’t what we believe is possible, but rather what we can accept. And we’ve learned to accept crap while ignoring common sense. Do you believe there are still 24 hours in a day? Do you believe you have time to sit down to dinner with your family? Maybe you believe you can sit down on a street corner in Manhattan and paint a picture of a city block? Frame it and take it to a gallery and slap a $2,000 price tag on it next to the other painting because that’s what that artist is charging? Because that’s what many writers are doing in e-publishing and hoping to strike it rich. In any creative media, the parallel is exact!

    Everything in life has a structural foundation. Without it, life crumbles. The examples are surrounding us every day. They are ridiculous, but we’ve learned to swallow the ridiculous. A dollar today is really worth about thirty cents, so a minute today is maybe worth thirty seconds as apposed to a 1975 minute. That’s why movies that used to be ninety minutes run closer to three hours. And with everyone trying to sell us crazy ideas that break down the structure of life, time, maybe the very fabric of the universe, one thing remains constant…you can’t fool creative criteria without making a steaming pile of dung.

    And you know the janitor isn’t equipped to deal with that sort of thing! He’ll have to Google proper waste disposal, maybe even call in a HASMAT team. And that’s going to cost us time we just don’t have today, people!!!

  8. Kerry Boytzun

    @ Robert.

    Yup.

    I watched the latest Superman movie last night. Not good, but informative if you can decipher the Symbolism in the movie. In short, the Earth’s environment is being intentionally changed and Post Humanism is rapidly coming. Post means AFTER, so thus “After Humans”. Means y’all are NOT coming back–as humans. Ultimately the idiots that believe they are smarter than everyone will have the ultimate joke on themselves.

    Don’t worry. I’m the crazy one. Normal people can’t spell symbolism let alone read it–it’s all “graffiti” like the gangs leave on spray painted on the wall. Nothing to learn from a movie, they spend the $300 million for profit only. No other reason.

    Kerry

  9. Robert Jones

    Kerry,

    One may ask: Has there ever been a really good Superman film? We could go back to the first one that starred Gene Hackman as a funny little Lex Luthor with a toupee.

    I usually enjoy Zack Snyder’s directing, but “Man of Steel” was not his finest hour. Some may (and have) argued that among the Superman films, this was one of the better. Maybe it was the script by David S. Goyer, who may have written one too many comic book films. But hell, he uderstands story structure.

    Maybe Goyer was trying to play up the paranoia in much the same way they did back in the 1950s with the original “Invasion of the Body Snatchers.” I thought it began as an interesting take on how humans would really perceive a “Superman” once they discovered he was from another planet. However, that aspect ended up getting played down about as much as Lois Lane’s character.

    On the other hand, all of this makes a pretty strong argument for what Larry says about structure trumping plot and characters.

    I thought “Watchmen” was a stronger film with better symbolism. Snyder directs, different writers. Of course they’re basing that one on an actual graphic novel written by Alan Moore, so the foundation for the plot was pretty set already. They still could’ve ruined it, but didn’t. Which is fairly impressive all on its own. But as far as comic books made into film, that one comes to mind as one of the better. And there aren’t too many stand outs there. Just a creaking balance between a fun and flops for a while. Then mostly flops with a few that stood on their own okay. Mainly because they tried to stay halfway true to the characters–almost an impossibility in Hollywood.

    On that score, I’ll leave you with a quote from Joss Whedon who said after the nightmare of trying to put together an Avenger’s film based on the characters he knew and loved since he was a kid, only one scene in the entire movie survived from the original script he had written. Having to make constant off the cuff changes, and stay true to the other lousy films in the franchises, it was still more fun and better than the individual films due to his understanding of the comics alone. I like Whedon and enjoy his commentaries because he isn’t afraid to talk about these things, or admit when something he did was a mistake. It isn’t just a matter of explaining what he did, it’s how he screwed it up the first time and learned something, then here’s what he did instead. Which is kinda’ refreshing and sometimes educational.

    But getting back on topic–Whedon started his career as a script consultant. So there’s an understanding of the structural foundation. So in spite of the madness, crazy characters, and pop-corn fluffery, there is inherent structural integrity beneath it all. And this comes through in his writing and directing even when he had to make constant changes, even minutes before filming a scene. So no matter what you think of the finished product, keep that in mind if you watch it and compare it to other films in its genre and you’ll see exactly what Larry is saying about getting structure down and how it can even make a nightmare work into something that sells well. Which the “Avengers” did, to the point it was dubbed (arguably) the “best” superhero movie in some of the reviews. And that sure ain’t because of a genius plot and realistic characters.

    ‘Nuff said!

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  12. Wendy Mastandrea

    Hi, Larry,

    Found your website for the first time today after searching for information on Story Trumps Structure. After reading some of the information here, I ordered both your books from Amazon – Story Engineering and Story Physics. I love that you used examples from Gone Girl (saw the movie) to make your point. Can’t wait to get your books and start learning from someone who talks straight and wants to help other writers along. Thank you!!

    Wendy