17.9: Let’s Talk About Structure

Your Hosts: Dan Wells, Mary Robinette Kowal, Peng Shepherd, and Howard Tayler

We’re beginning another eight-episode deep-dive series, and this time it’s a fresh approach to story structure, led by our guest host Peng Shepherd.

Join us as we zoom right through the overarching frameworks defined via things like the Hero’s Journey, Freytag’s Triangle, Save The Cat, and Seven Point Story Structure  to look at the microstructures  which both define and obscure these general narrative shapes.

Credits: This episode was recorded by Marshall Carr, Jr., and mastered by Alex Jackson


Pick a favorite book with an interesting structure. Can you identify how the author’s chosen structure enhances the tension, plot, and/or character development of the story?

9 thoughts on “17.9: Let’s Talk About Structure”

  1. This week, Dan, Mary Robinette, Peng, and Howard, kicked off a new class about structure. Beyond Freitag’s Triangle, Save the Cat, Truby’s 22 steps, and even Dan’s seven point story structure, how do you match structure with plot, theme, setting, and all the rest? How do we as writers learn the techniques? Where do you start, or how do you match structure with characters or worldbuilding? Plenty of discussion that you can read about now in the transcript available in the archives.

    1. Thanks, ‘nother Mike. These transcripts are great! Sometimes when I’m sure I remembered the cast talking about something, I go to the transcript and can just use CTRL-F and find out whether I’m remembering right (or not!)

  2. In this episode, you mention another episode of Writing Excuses where DongWon Song used Kishōtenketsu to break down the structure of Parasite. I don’t remember that episode and couldn’t find it through a google search. Could you provide a link?

  3. Hi! Mary Robinette mentioned Dong Won’s deep dive into Parasite, an episode I remember listening to, but I can’t find it now using the most obvious google search terms. Does anyone remember which episode it is? I’d like to hear it again. Thanks!

    1. I can’t find it either, and I’ve got five years of WX episode notes in a spreadsheet.

      IIRC, we recorded it in late 2019 or early 2020, and it was an in-person recording, but I simply cannot find notes on that episode in that time frame.

      1. Perhaps the WRX discussion of Parasite happened in the Berenstein Bears universe, and we can’t currently access it.

        (I have done a search-and-find for “Parasite” in I think every single Dong Won episode from the end of 2019 to mid-2020, and didn’t find it.)

      2. Have them do another one! You guys got me really curious to hear this breakdown.

  4. One of my absolute FAVORITE books that has an interesting structure of the book is Station Eleven by Emily St. John (Mandel). I’ve read it at least three times since I found it a couple years after publication and I learn something new with each read.

    Thanks for the podcast today. I took a mental/writing break post-pandemic, but I’m finally getting back to my abandoned novels. I’m so grateful you guys are still doing this podcast! Cheers.

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