Playing with structure

Once you know what happens, you have to decide how you’re going to let the reader in on the plot!

You can think about structure on three different levels:

Word level

When we look at structure at word level, we are thinking about choosing the right vocabulary to reflect the characters, setting and genre. This is covered in a range of activities in the language section of this resource.

Sentence Level

When we look at sentence level, we are thinking about varying the length and shape of sentences, specifically with the impact on the reader in mind. It is at sentence level that a story catches our interest.

  • simple sentences;
  • compound sentences;
  • complex sentences;
  • single word sentences;
  • lists of three or longer lists; and
  • subordinate clauses.

Text Level

The structure is how the writer reveals the plot to the reader.

At text level, the writer controls the pace and intensity of the action, revealing what they want the reader to know, to manipulate the reader’s emotional response to the action and the characters. Structure is often confused with plot, but plot is simply what happens. Structure is how that plot is revealed to the reader.

It includes the use of connectives, echoes, flashback, allusion, foreshadowing, dialogue and playing with perspective. It impacts in both obvious and subtle ways.

Playing with structure

Use this activity to encourage your pupils to experiment with word order and sentence structure. It gives pupils opportunities to think explicitly about structure. They should work in pairs, small groups or as a whole class.

[Playing with structure Download]