Category Archives: Structure

Structure Discovered

The structure of a creative work is discovered, not imposed.  Consider the architect’s mantra, “Form follows function.”  A skyscraper exists because of land limitations, population density, and the nature of business relations; its inherent qualities (its purpose, its limitations) distinguish it from a bungalow or a Carnegie library.  Likewise each piece of prose has a unique being—a focus, an exploration, a heartbeat.  We don’t know when we start if our subject has sharp corners or … Continue reading

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On Length

I’ve been surprised by how many beginning writers have a strange notion that whatever they’re writing—say, a chapter or short memoir or essay—must be certain length—say, twenty pages—and get tied in knots when their writing doesn’t conform.  Ironically, everyone’s assumptions about the proper length for a piece are different.  Where do these ideas come from?  And why? I suspect these assumptions have their origins in twelve-plus years of schooling, during which every bit of writing … Continue reading

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