Bestselling authors structure their sentences so that strong, vivid words fall at the beginning and end.
The beginning for engagement, the end for resonance.
The above picture quote is an example of this secret structure.
The word “architect” is a somewhat unusual word to start a sentence. I’m also using a noun as a verb. Combined, both of these choices hopefully grab the reader’s attention.
The word “monument” is another potential power word, calling up mental and emotional associations.
The Book End Strategy
You could call this structure the “Book End” strategy. The key is to find strong, evocative words or phrases to start and end your sentences.
In a way, this structure mimics the structure of story — inciting incident that crescendos to a climax.
8 Strategies For Secret Structure
- Not every sentence must start or end with a vivid word
- The vivid words or phrases can be near the beginning or end
- Don’t sacrifice sentence clarity to force an awkward structure onto a sentence
- If you can’t “book end” a sentence, strongly consider placing the power word at the end of the sentence
- Don’t sacrifice the story for sentence
- Consider words with strong associations – child, blood, death, birth
- Consider words with concrete reference – bridge, monument, coffin
- Consider unique or unusual words – resurrect, excavate, architect
Examples of Bestseller Architecture
Graffiti marred the walls of the school, threats and codes and gang signatures, a sweeping tapestry of violence. – Christopher Kokoski
Single-entry gunshot. -David Baldacci, Memory Man
Corazon was hunched over the steel table, her bloody and gloved hands deep inside the gutted torso, working with forceps and a long-bladed instrument she called the “butter knife.” – Michael Connelly, The Burning Room
Christopher is secretly constructing (hopefully) beautiful landscapes of prose. For exclusive access to even more writing tips, go here.