- Linear--most common. Chronological, escalating tension. Used for most screenplays and novels.
- Quest--episodic, with multiple antagonists. Think Lord of the Rings.
- Pattern--scenes not arranged chronologically, but by relationship. Think Love, Actually.
- Framed--an outer story and an inner story. Example: The Princess Bride.
To illustrate the impact of structure on story, the professor had us write a short story with the following structure: 26 sentences, first sentence starts with "A," second sentence starts with "B," and so forth. This is what I came up with:
Anastasia Arthur studied the man sitting at the keyboard with icy displeasure. Brentwood Public Library did not tolerate porn surfing on its premises.
"Computers are for patron use only," she told him coldly.
Darius Finch studied Anastasia, the corners of his full lips curving into a grin. Every woman should be built along her generous, sensuous lines. Fantasies of engaging her in the activities on his screen ran through his head.
"Get out of my library," she said.
"How do you know I don't have a library card?" he asked.
"It's obvious," she sniffed. "Just look at you."
"KandyKakes.com is not porn," he said, changing his approach. "Look for yourself--all the women have clothes on."
"Merciful Mother of God," Anastasia said. "Nothing that small qualifies as clothing."
"On the other hand," Darius said, his eyes raking her up and down, "you'd be pornographic in a full-length bathrobe."
"Please," said Anastasia, blushing. "Quit talking like that."
"Really?" said Darius. "Since when do you object to smutty talk?"
"Today," Anastasia said primly. "Unless you've finally taken care of that matter we discussed."
"Vasectomy accomplished," he said, a gleam appearing in his eyes.
“When does the doctor say you can…?”
“Xanthic discharge is all cleared up," he said. "You want to go to my apartment and...?"
"Zoology section is very secluded."
What can you come up with?