I say, yes. Remember I said, ‘weak structure’ not bad structure or no structure. Meaning the elements of the three acts are there, but they’re weak.
Examples of weak structure:
- No distinct inciting incident.
- The turning point/disaster before Act II and Act III aren’t obvious. I know I’m in Act II or III but I missed that life changing decision and huge disaster.
- The first part of Act II covers the B story or subplot but the story isn’t moving forward much. (I fall asleep while reading.)
- The big midpoint moment that I love is almost non-existent or it happens too late. (I think subconsciously, readers notice this kind of thing. They might think the middle is dragging.)
- In the climax, the protagonist never really has that final fight with the villain.
- The villain suffers from the Scooby-doo effect, meaning he/she isn’t really as bad as the reader was led to believe.
So why do some of these books end up on the bestseller list or receive 5 stars?
- Incredible hook.
- High stakes.
- Snappy dialogue.
- Terrific page-to-page tension and over-arching tension.
- An extremely likeable main character that readers connect to.
- Great sensory details that make the story come alive.
- A well-developed voice that practically pulls us through the story.
The good thing is that structure is easier to learn and apply to your writing than some of the elements on the list above. In most cases, great structure can push your book from great to excellent and the reader won’t even know why.
Do you agree? Or disagree? Is structure worth studying? What might be the positive side effects of learning structure?