Six Logical Writing Structures

Discover six logical writing structures that can help you find more success with every piece of writing, whether it's a query letter, short story, news article, or blog post.
Publish date:

Discover six logical writing structures that can help you find more success with every piece of writing, whether it's a query letter, short story, news article, or blog post.

Every piece of writing, whether it is a cover letter for a job application, a news article, or a fictional short story, has its own structure. Think of structure as the skeleton of a piece of writing. It is the bare bones of the piece, all connected to form a solid, uniform foundation upon which you, the writer and the creator, will build something unique. Humans, for example, all have nearly identical basic skeletons. However, it's everything that goes on top of those skeletons—the muscles, the facial features, the shape, the curves, the personality, and even the clothes and accessories—that makes each human unique.

Image placeholder title

(How to write a five-paragraph essay that works.)

Remember being assigned five-paragraph essays on your first day back to grade school every fall? They'd usually be titled "What I Did This Summer," and they'd be assigned to have an introduction, three supporting paragraphs making up the body of the work, and a conclusion. This general format is the root of the six common writing structures that can be used for both formal and informal written communication.

This course guides beginning and intermediate writers through elements of how to write a personal essay, helping them identify values expressed in their stories and to bring readers into the experiences described. Writers learn how to avoid the dreaded responses of “so what?” and “I guess you had to be there” by utilizing sensory details, learning to trust their writing intuitions, and developing a skilled internal editor to help with revision.

Image placeholder title

Click to continue.

Categorical Structure

In a categorical structure, a series of equally important topics are addressed. A political speech, like a campaign speech or even The State of the Union Address, is a good example of categorical writing. You might use a similar structure in a cover letter for a job application, in which you describe all of your traits that would make you an ideal candidate for the position.

Evaluative Structure

In an evaluative structure, a problem is introduced, and then pros and cons are weighed. You might employ an evaluative structure when writing an e-mail to ask a close friend for advice.

Chronological Structure

When your focus is more the actual telling of the story than the end result, employ a chronological structure. Think of joke telling. "Three guys walk into a bar..." sets up a sequence of events to deliver that final punch line. Similarly, most short stories and novels are written chronologically.

Comparative Structure

This structure is similar to evaluative, but it is used when there are more layers to the situation at hand that is being weighed. You might use a comparative structure if you were writing a speech for a debate team to explain the various reasons why you feel your point is stronger than your opponent's. Or you might use a comparative structure to write a letter to the editor explaining all the reasons you disagree with the city council's decision to raise local taxes.

Sequential Structure

This structure is similar to Chronological, but is normally employed with a how-to voice when a step-by-step process is being described. If you were going to write about how to make your famous chocolate layer cake, or how to get to a great bed-and-breakfast you discovered out in the country, you would write sequentially, using words like, "First," "Next," "Then," and "Finally" to clarify your instructions.

Causal Structure

This structure might at first glance seem similar to Comparative structures, but it differs in that it does not involve weighing options against one another. Instead, it discusses the causes and then the effects regarding a particular topic or issue in that order. You might use this structure if you were writing an article on how something has come about, such as the contributing factors to air pollution. Or you might employ this technique in a letter explaining why you have decided to resign from your job.

Now that you know about the different kinds of structures, start paying attention to the skeletons of all the pieces of writing around you. The next time you flip through a magazine in a doctor's waiting room, or skim through a weekly e-newsletter that you subscribe to, or even read a letter from a friend, take some time to x-ray the writing and see how its bare bones are connected. Good writers hone their skills by being constantly aware of what they're reading.

Do you remember the difference between the 8 parts of speech, and how to use them? Are you comfortable with punctuation and mechanics? No matter what type of writing you do, mastering the fundamentals of grammar and mechanics is an important first-step to having a successful writing career.

Image placeholder title

Click to continue.


Dr. Munish Batra and Keith R.A. DeCandido: Entertainment and Outrage

Authors Dr. Munish Batra and Keith R.A. DeCandido explain how they came to co-write their novel and why it's important to them that the readers experience outrage while reading.


Incite vs. Insight (Grammar Rules)

Learn when to use incite vs. insight with Grammar Rules from the Writer's Digest editors, including a few examples of correct usages.


Jane K. Cleland: On Writing the Successful Long-Running Series

Award-winning mystery author Jane K. Cleland describes what it's like to write a long-running book series and offers expert advice for the genre writer.

writer's digest wd presents

WD Presents: #StartWrite, Virtual Conference, and New Courses

This week, we’re excited to announce free resources to start your writing year off well, our Novel Writing Virtual Conference, and more!


20 Most Popular Writing Posts of 2020

We share a lot of writing-related posts throughout the year on the Writer's Digest website. In this post, we've collected the 20 most popular writing posts of 2020.


Carla Malden: Writing With Optimism and Innocence

Screenwriter and author Carla Malden explains why young adult fiction and the '60s go hand-in-hand and how she connected with her main character's voice.


Writing Mistakes Writers Make: Talking About the Work-in-Progress

The Writer's Digest team has witnessed many writing mistakes over the years, so we started this series to help identify them for other writers (along with correction strategies). This week's writing mistake writers make is talking about the work-in-progress.


Greta K. Kelly: Publishing Is a Marathon

Debut author Greta K. Kelly reveals how the idea for her novel sparked and the biggest surprise of her publication journey.

Poetic Forms

Mistress Bradstreet Stanza: Poetic Forms

Poetic Form Fridays are made to share various poetic forms. This week, we look at the Mistress Bradstreet stanza, an invented form of John Berryman.