Tag Archives: story structure

Worshiping at the temple of Structure

Over the weekend I spent two full days with Story Engineering author/speaker/guru Larry Brooks. Now I didn’t swoon (which apparently disappointed him) but I did learn two things…

  1. I write awesome beginnings
  2. My middles are crap

My endings are erratic so I’m going to ignore that for the moment. But I’ve been spinning around the middle of my novel for almost a year, and now I have some tools that I truly believe will get me through the muck of it.

At least I hope so…

I won’t give away Larry’s secrets – which he gives away on his website – but I will say I spent half the night, post Day One, tearing apart my half finished novel which garnered me the first two pieces of information. Then as I tried to fall asleep – ideas about how to make almost everything I’ve written and not sold better flooded my mind until I just had to tell the damn muse to shut up because there was no way I was going to be able to learn anything Day Two if I didn’t get any sleep (besides the migraine issues).

What I was hoping this weekend would provide is grist for the planning mill… I was terrified that I was hanging too much of my future productivity on this one weekend, thank the gods I was proven wrong.

There is a plan…a structure…a skeleton from which to hang the meat of your story on.

I’m still working on what I started Saturday night – taking the novel as it now exists and divide it into the four sections of story, and vetting the currently written scenes and how they fit into the overarching concept. And what a relief to know I had a concept… so much of Day Two was spent in search of one as different writers offered up their stories or germs of stores to the group to be reviewed.

The interesting thing about that (and probably why I love Rose City Romance Writers so much) is that in the romance world there is room for all of us. No “new” writer is a threat, no established writer feels possessive of their craft, time or contacts. I was talking to a children’s writer who sat next to me and was so surprised that the weekend ended so positively. She said most Children’s events ended with a quiet sense of desperation.

I spent joyous part of last night talking through it with Jo and for the first time ever felt like I had head wrapped around the plot.

Woop!

Don’t get me wrong – this is a bullet but not magic – it is going to take a hell of a lot of work to get my novel to the structural polish suggested by Larry’s structure. But having a structure, knowing where to stick my tent pole in the ground so I can write to it, is wonderfully liberating.

On a different note, my Mac has slowed down to a crawl so my depression (followed by a bout of self-pity) has to be officially over – I only have 37.95 GB left on my Mac’s hard drive and that is not enough for another season of NCIS. And I need to delete many of the ones I have to get my writing tool back to optimum working condition.

’tis good to be back.

Ta!

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Story vs. Story

Why Books are Always Better than Movies Credit: Wiki Commons

One of the things I love about writing… you are always learning something.

Who would have thought that my Theater training would come up again? Or my love of data and the way things fit together.

I’ve spent the last week struggling with my re-write. Because I wrote a story that had more emotional gravitas a few weeks ago and realize that I’d like to do it again. One of the things I’ve noticed is that my work is emotionally about as deep as a kitten scratch. That maybe unkind but is often true. I like the action, I like the stress on my characters to come from outside of them, not internal strife, and I hate people who don’t know what they want.

Okay – for awhile I was one of those people. But I annoyed myself.

I also have a whole list of plot points that I take issue with…

I hate when the main character goes all wobbly in the head and does something stupidly out of character because the author needs to move the plot forward. (Yes, that means that I can only do so much Chick Lit).

I hate when there is some simple misunderstanding, which if known, could solve everything in less than five minutes.

I hate when authors don’t give me something to care about. I picked up a novel, damn don’t even remember the name, and by the end of the third chapter I’d met all the characters – not a single one of whom I gave a damn about. So, I put the book down.

Oh, and once you make me care for someone – don’t drop them and move thousands of years in the future. I could never read the Foundation Trilogy for that reason. Each time I started really caring about the characters we jumped into the future. 

I hate inconsistency. This is specific to anytime you are creating a world that runs on rules that aren’t ours. Be consistent. Don’t suddenly allow a solution that was impossible a few chapters ago just because you painted yourself into a corner or thought of something cool you wanted to do.

And finally… where have all the editors gone? Please don’t put everything and the kitchen sink into your story. That is the beauty of stories – they are streamlined reality – they aren’t real life with its stops and starts, its unfinished plots, and chaos. Story has pattern and form – keep it consistent. Just because you like an idea doesn’t mean that it belongs.

There are more… but some of them are very genre specific. Since I’m collecting these what are yours? It is always interesting to find out what drive others up the wall when they are reading a book or watching a show.

What drives you insane?

~ Tess

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