How to Structure Your Writing for Maximum Impact (With Help From AI)
A teacher once told me, “The most effective writing is always prepared with a plan.”
A plan provides a clear structure and roadmap to follow. This helps you to avoid getting stuck in the middle of the writing process because you have guidance to fall back on.
As well as saving time, you will improve your work if you consider how to structure your writing before you begin. Planning your basic structure can ensure that your argument, article, or story is easy to follow and digest. Without doing so, you may forget to include certain information or your piece may become disjointed and incoherent.
I’ve been a professional writer for six years, and I’ve produced many forms of writing for different clients. In particular, I often create detailed blog posts using different writing structures.
In this article, I’ll explain why structure is essential to the writing process. I’ll also provide tips to help you choose which structure your piece of writing should follow.
What is writing structure?
Structure in writing refers to the arrangement of words, sentences, and paragraphs to create a logical flow of ideas. It provides a framework for you to organize your thoughts around so your writing flows from one point to the next, making it easy for your readers to understand.
For example, the basics of essay structure consists of an introduction, body, and conclusion. This structure helps you separate your content into digestible sections. It also helps you to plan your content: you can consider what you need to set up in the introduction before moving onto the main body of your essay, and then what you will need to summarise in the conclusion.
Structure also includes elements such as sentence length, headings, and transitions. These help readers digest key points within your text.
There are many types of structures you can use, and some content requires a particular type. Press releases, for example, have a format that adheres to industry standards and usually include contact information at the end. On the other hand, a story’s structure can include different variations.
As I’ll demonstrate throughout this article, it’s crucial to find a suitable structure for the content you’re creating.
Why is writing structure important?
Structure acts as a solid foundation for your text. It tells you how to logically lay out your ideas and arguments.
For example, let’s say I’m writing an entire post on the pros and cons of social media. With a structure, I can plan my arguments and look at how to present them. I could structure the pros together and then the cons. Alternatively, I could go back-and-forth between the two opposing sides.
Without this structure, my essay would be confusing and difficult to read. If I don’t plan my essay, I may forget key points, insert information at inappropriate times, or create a confusing flow.
In addition to guiding our ideas, structure can break up our writing briefs to make word counts less daunting.
For instance, a 5,000 word essay is less intimidating if you separate it into different parts. You could start with a 300-word introduction, for example, followed by a 200-word overview of the topic you’re discussing.
Types of writing structures and how to use them
Now you know the importance of structure, let’s look at some different types of writing — such as essays and stories — and the structure that best applies to them.
Linear writing structure
Linear structure — otherwise known as chronological structure — is when writing follows a logical sequence, with each point connecting to the next. A linear structure lists events in the order they happened or will occur.
Recipes, for example, follow linear structures. This is because it makes sense to read cooking instructions in a chronological order. After all, you can’t start at step 5 and combine your ingredients if you haven’t yet added them to the bowl!
As well as recipes, step-by-step instructions, how-to guides, and the relaying of an event or subject are best served by chronological order.
If you’re following a guide on how to do something, for example, you don’t want to skip steps and work backwards to find out what’s next. Likewise, if you’re researching the build-up to a historical event, you’ll struggle to understand what actually happened if it’s not written in chronological order.
Before choosing a linear structure for your writing, ask yourself if a non-chronological structure would confuse your readers. Do people need to know what happened in chronological order to understand your content?
Narrative structures: Storytelling through writing
Narrative structure is a way of organizing a story with a beginning, middle, and end. It is often used in creative writing and includes a plot, characters, and setting, as well as a conflict that the protagonist must resolve.
With a narrative or story structure, it can be difficult to decide how to structure your writing. This is because even though there are common structures, there is ultimately no right or wrong way to lay out your story — it depends on what structure will make your story feel most exciting and engaging.
Here are five key narrative structures to consider:
- Linear: As mentioned, this puts the story in chronological order.
- Nonlinear: This is a way of telling your story non-chronologically. For instance, your story could involve flashbacks to different time periods.
- Circular: This structure gives the sense that the end of your story takes you back to where it started. For example, your story could begin and end in a particular location, or with a character feeling exactly as they did at the start of the story by the end of it.
- Parallel: This is when two or more separate stories are told at the same time. The stories are usually linked by a character, an event, or a theme. As an example, you could show the perspectives of two different people in the same city looking for love.
- Interactive: This type of storytelling enables readers to interact with and influence the story’s course. One way to do this is to ask readers to make a decision and then turn to a specific page to continue the story based on the outcome they chose.
Imagine your story in each narrative structure. Plan out how each could work and how this impacts your story — this will help with your understanding of story structure. For example, when planning a circular structure, consider if your ending is powerful enough to also be mirrored at the beginning.
Or, when looking at a parallel structure, decide if your characters or themes are strong enough to have separate storylines.
Scene writing structure: Crafting a setting for your story
A story scene can show how a character is feeling, what is happening in the plot, and how the narrative is progressing. It can also be used to create tension and suspense, or to illustrate a moral lesson.
When creating a scene structure, plan for the overall purpose. What do you want your scene to achieve and how do you want readers to feel?
Scene structures consist of a beginning, middle, and end. So, within one singular scene, you have three separate parts to focus on. The first part (the beginning) sets up the objective — what is your character trying to achieve? For instance, do they need to meet a deadline at work?
The middle part is typically an obstacle — something happens that impacts the character’s goal. Based on my previous example, maybe the character receives a phone call that their child is ill and must be picked up from school.
The end of your scene is the conclusion — what is the outcome for the character? Will they overcome their obstacle or run into further issues which extend into the next scene?
Once you have the structure of your scene, you can craft your setting. While the obvious example for my character is to place them in an office, I could use a mind map to explore further scenarios. Perhaps they work from home for instance, or they are heading towards their office to complete their tasks.
Logical structures: Building blocks of writing
Logical structures are used to organize information in a way that makes sense and is effective. The building blocks of logical writing include clear and concise language, rational arguments, and well-researched evidence. Using these elements together creates a convincing argument that is easy to follow and understand.
Here are some examples of logical structures:
- Cause and effect: This typically follows a pattern of introducing the cause, providing supporting evidence, discussing the effect, and then providing further evidence to support the effect.
- Comparison and contrast: Compares two or more things and highlights their similarities and differences. It usually begins with an introduction that outlines the main points of comparison, followed by body paragraphs that discuss each subject in turn.
- Chronological order: As mentioned earlier, chronological order outlines events or content in the order in which they occur. For instance, step-by-step instructions are written in a chronological order, from the first step to the last.
- Problem and solution: This is when you present a problem and offer potential solutions. You may also explain why certain solutions work.
A logical structure, such as the ones described above, makes it easier to organize your essay or article. This is because it specifies what to focus on in each paragraph. To decide which logical structure to use, reflect on your argument. Is your aim to provide solutions, to compare something, or are you looking to highlight the impact of an issue such as global warming, which would be aided by a cause and effect structure?
To ensure your language is clear, direct, and conveys a strong argument, use Wordtune. When you type text into the editor, you can receive Editor’s Notes which point out spelling and grammar mistakes. Additionally, the Editor can suggest alternative sentences and words to make your text more concise.
Academic writing structures: Crafting an argument
Academic writing typically follows this classic structure:
- Introduction: Tells the reader about your topic and provides a thesis statement.
- Body: Conveys key points, theories, and arguments related to your thesis.
- Conclusion: Summarizes your argument and ties your points together.
While the introduction and conclusion often follow a typical format, the body of an argument can be structured in several ways.
An argumentative structure, for instance, usually follows a five-paragraph structure: an introduction, three body paragraphs, and a conclusion. The body paragraphs should each make a point that supports the main argument. The body paragraphs should also include a topic sentence — usually at the beginning. This briefly explains the main point or idea of a paragraph.
On the other hand, an explanatory essay could have a cause and effect structure. This structure can be used to explain why something happened and its consequences. As an example, you could use a cause and effect structure to explain how the increased use of social media has impacted how we communicate with each other.
The structure largely depends on the type of essay being written. For instance, if you are crafting an argument to persuade the reader of a certain point of view, an argumentative essay structure is ideal. But if your essay’s purpose is to tell a story, a narrative structure is more appropriate.
This article was co-written with Wordtune. Wordtune didn’t write the whole piece. Instead, it contributed ideas, suggested rephrasing alternatives, maintained consistency in tone, and of course - made the process much more fun for the writer.