Posted by: A. C. Cockerill | February 23, 2022

Writers’ Corner – 2022 – Post #1

Writers’ Corner – 2022 – Post #1

Do episodic stories need to follow a traditional story structure?

My two cents, but please share yours:

In my opinion, the answer is absolutely yes!

Novels, novellas, short stories, flash fiction, and episodic fiction all need an underlying three-act (sometimes called a four-part) structure. The hero’s or heroine’s journey should occur at or near the 25% mark, and the bleak moment should happen around the 75% point in the story. These plot points, in fact all standard plot points, resonate with readers.

The reason for adhering to the three-act structure is that readers can sense when a plot point occurs in the wrong place or is missing altogether. They may not consciously know poor structure is the problem, but they sense something is off and will lower their score for the story, if they write a review. I’ve seen scores drop regularly for this reason in the book clubs I attend.

I would take this guideline a step further by including the three-act structure across a series arc, even when the series consists of one short episode followed by another. This requires a bit of planning, but the readers will appreciate the effort.

What are your thoughts on this topic?

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