Notes on Structure Structure = the ways in which writers arrange materials in accord with the general ideas and purposes of their works; defines the layout of the literary work Structure is not the same as plot ▫Plot refers to the events that unfold. ▫Structure refers to the way in which those events are revealed to the reader. ▫Structure may follow plot (chronological order), but does not have to; few narratives do.
Notes on Structural Variations Although exposition is the first part of the plot sequence, it may appear anywhere in the story, often in the form of flashbacks. Flashbacks, or selective recollection, occurs when the narrative briefly breaks away from present events to introduce the past event(s) that created them. A narrative may also flash forward, usually to provide resolution to a minor plotline or character that will not be seen again.
Structural Variations continued... Eudora Welty’s story “A Worn Path” uses structure to create a “double take” effect. ▫It seems to follow a traditional structure through to its resolution. ▫At the story’s end, it introduces a hidden difficulty that adds a parallel conflict to the entire narrative. Additional variations ▫Spatial organization (by rooms or geography) ▫Accidental unfolding (seemingly random events) ▫Dialogue or fragments of conversations
General Strategies Questions to Consider Organizing Your Essay
General Strategies Focus on arrangement and shape Avoid restating or summarizing the narrative or argument (plot summary) Explain why the author would choose to arrange things in a certain way
Questions for Consideration If spaces or numbers divide the story into sections or parts, what structural importance do these parts have? If there are no marked divisions, what major sections can you discover? If the story departs in major ways from the formal structure of exposition, complication, crisis, climax, and resolution, what purpose do these departures have? What variations in chronological order, if any, appear in the story? What effects are achieved by these variations? Does the story delay any crucial details of exposition? Why? What effect is achieved by the delay? Where does an important action or major section begin? End? How is it related to the other formal structural elements?
Organizing Your Essay about Structure Introduction ▫Thesis should discuss why an entire story is arranged the way it is ▫May discuss the structure of a part of the story Body ▫Best developed in concert or agreement with what the work contains ▫May focus on other notable aspects of the work Conclusion ▫Stress effects and relationships of structure