I had two kids home sick from school today, so we played some quick, non-mind-draining board games. Chutes and Ladders, anyone? But being the curious thinker that I can sometimes be, the non-mind-draining game struck me as worth thinking about from the writer’s perspective. Are those chuckles coming from you? Think I’ve caught a bug from the kids that made me delirious? Give me a second! Try to visualize the game as it’s being played, it shows your protagonist (you) moving along toward a well-defined goal. You are more excited when you start the game in action–like spinning a one and getting to go up the ladder right away (the hook!). When you don’t move along at a good pace, it’s like the story that doesn’t go anywhere–boring. You move along the game, making good decisions and bad decisions and experiencing (inevitable) let downs and achievements. You fight against the antagonists (your opponents) who are also having their ups and downs–and sometimes acting almost heroic, like the villain you love/hate. And on the very last row you can quite possibly run into three chutes which really ramps up the excitement (the climax!). So, now you can see how the Chutes and Ladders story structure works. Of course, like any book or game, it just feels better when the protagonist wins! Oh, sorry kids.