On Writing Well: The Importance of Structure in Writing

Pia Chatterjee

I am an incorrigible planner. I plan everything, down to the last detail. Yet when I am writing, I forget my planning ways, and try to write spontaneously. “I’ll be creative today!” I tell myself. “Structure is for construction, not for writing.” Yet inevitably, I run out of steam and give up on my piece. But when I structure my work in advance, such a thing never happens, and both my fiction and non-fiction articles read better, are more interesting, and most importantly, I don’t put it off until another time.

Some popular ways of structuring your writing:

Inverted Pyramid approach: Most commonly used in journalism, this approach quickly gets to the most important information first, describing who, what, when, where and why in the first paragraph. The later paragraphs include less important information, with the background and general information appearing last. The reader is immediately involved, but does not have to read up until the end, if they are short on time. It’s also very easy to edit.

The AIDA approach: This technique is popular with copywriters and is wonderful when you are describing something that requires an action in the end. Within this structure, you first grab the readers ATTENTION, create an INTEREST, inspire DESIRE, and then call for an ACTION. This is wonderful when you want your readers to actually do something at the end of the piece, whether it is to buy a product, get more exercise, or try a recipe, this form really works

The Dramatic approach: Shakespeare did it and so can you! Try structuring your writing into 3 acts, with the first act offering the set-up, the second act creating the conflict, and the third act involving the resolution. Every good novel or short story is structured in this way. It’s pleasant to read, involving an arc of action, and leaves the reader very satisfied

The Essay approach: Most popular in academic writing, this form offers an introduction, moves to the thesis which describes an assumption (for example: the earth is round) goes on to discuss proof points and arguments for an against this assumption, and then goes on to create a conclusion, based on the value of the proof. This is a very logical process and is wonderful when you are arguing your case.

So now, I’ve run out of excuses! Whether I want to write fiction, persuade readers to action, argue my case, or write a news item, I have some actionable structures on hand! So, now I actually have to write J But that’s another blog post!

9 thoughts on “On Writing Well: The Importance of Structure in Writing

  1. For those of us that are more creative than structured, this entry (as long as we refer to it, or remember the information presented) should help us out tremendously! Great work, Pia. Thanks!

  2. All good advice, Pia.

    I’ve published a number of Hubs, about writing, and like you, I have a disciplined approach. As to structure, it’s really, as you well know of course, about making your work flow, in a logical easy-to-read manner.

    My simple rule, which applies to all the structures you’ve described here, is that any written communication must have; a beginning, a middle, and an end.

    Cheers

  3. Hi Pia,
    I try to plan also, but sometimes I begin writing and all my previous thoughts “go out the window” Another great article!
    These different approaches are very thought provoking indeed.
    This article is a good follow on from the importance of the opening sentence in article writing.

    Thanks again.
    Regards
    Catherine

  4. This is a good summary of writing styles. Working with a well-known structure also often helps readers. They aren’t distracted by an unusual structure, and can focus more on the substance of your writing.

  5. Are there any hubs that we can refer to that use these different styles? I understand what you mean in each of the descriptions, but it would probably be really helpful to see each type in action on a hub.

    Just a thought!

    xo
    Melanie

  6. Thats a very informative writing. I have to decide the objective of my writing first, and then choose the suitable tructure. Again, this is very very usefull. thanks for that

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