What is it, why should I care--in other words, gimme a definition.
You know...I've been thinking about this and googling it, and looking everywhere for a damned definition. But I can't find one. Every time I come up with something I "think" might be organic structure, it turns into some obscure, overly academic or mystical touchie-feelie riff on finding plot in what you "see" in your head or channeling your emotions.
Three triangles in a row over a fulcrum, exploring your inner voice...? C'mon--anything with exercises is a turn-off. I don't want to light candles or get out a sketchpad.
My definition of Organic Structure:
Writing from inside your characters.
In genre fiction it's another way to say character-driven. Definitely the one-eighty of plot-driven.
Plot is what happens "to" characters. High concept. Elevator pitch. If you can explain it in ten seconds, you've got plot.
In other words, characters are interchangeable. Archetypes work well in plot-driven stories because they're a listing of character traits that tend to go together, sort of like saying, "I'm a Leo" rather than, "I'm a slightly chubby middle-aged birdwatcher with a fixation on crows and Trader Joe's chocolate-covered orange sticks."
General versus specific. Organic writing is specific to your characters. Plot in organic structure can't be taken out and used somewhere else because "those" characters produce "this" plot.
If I take John (from my posts on Emotional Structure) out of his story, there's no way I can replace him with another guy, because if I do the story changes. A well-thought out, multi-dimensional character in an organic story can't be removed without serious damage to the story structure.
In a plot-driven story, the story events drive the characters--so if I remove John and insert Rob, a twenty year old with acne and a brand new truck, his "Rob-ness" doesn't really matter, what does matter is the "weight" of the story.
To carry Rob, the plot would have to override personal details.
In the first Rambo movie, Rambo is a drifter. Everything that happens builds on both his backstory and who he is because of that backstory. When he heads up into the mountains and does his whole poncho-survivalist thing, it's understandable because--yeah, well--he was Special Forces. It's concentric and circular.
All actions are based on who he is, what he did, what he became, and what's happening to him because of that. Because he was Special Forces he did "this", which produced this reaction, which is triggered by "that". Circles inside circles, unlike the more linear structure of a plot.
Organic structure is a bulls eye of concentric rings, each spreading out like ripples from a central character. An organic plot happens when the rings of one character hit the rings of another character.
The later "Rambo" movies are plot-driven. Although Rambo is still at the center of each movie, he can easily be replaced by Chuck Norris or Steven Seagal.
David Morrell, the writer of First Blood, and an excellent author, gave an interview about the last movie:
This is the first time that the tone of my novel FIRST BLOOD has been used in any of the movies. It's spot-on in terms of how I imagined the character—angry, burned-out, and filled with self-disgust because Rambo hates what he is and yet knows it's the only thing he does well.
He doesn't mention plot, because it's all about character.