Monday, June 20, 2016

A Map of the Way Forward

I’m writing a story —or shall I boldly call it a novel?— that’s been giving me a lot of trouble.

All the stuff I’ve written before has seemed to flow easily. Things made sense; POV, voice, choice of scenes, etc. all seemed to come to me (relatively) with no trouble. Mind you, except for the short stories, most of it is just lying around, not at the bottom of a drawer, but in a (forgotten) folder on my computer.

Well, this time, scenes came to me easily too, but that was about it. A lot of scenes. Actually, too many of them; too many things needed to happen at the same time, too many characters to introduce, 3rd person limited POV, 1st person POV, etc. I knew the story I wanted to tell, but I didn’t know how to tell it. I was not happy with it and I was beginning to panic.

I realized at that point, that I needed an outline. Yet, I simply cannot write an outline. If there’s an element of the story that I have to put on paper because I think I might not remember it, then it’s as good as lost. The story is all in my head. The ideas that I cannot cram in my head are as good as gone even if I record them in one way or another.

However, I did my homework diligently. I searched the web for good outlining methods, I even bought a book and followed its suggestions step by step. I'm sure it's a good book. It didn’t work.

Then, I fell upon this site: Write Like Rowling  and everything changed. Because this article, “Story Structure of Sorcerer’s Stone”, which by itself is quite interesting and very useful, led me to Larry Brooks’s Story Fix.

Chances are you’re already familiar with it, or at least heard of it. Larry Brooks has also written a book, "Story Engineering”, but the website gives detailed explanations and great examples, by deconstructing well-known and successful novels.

Story structure. The four parts: the Setup, the Response, the Attack, the Resolution. The first plot point, the midpoint, the second plot point, the pinch points, the hook… The exact place where each of them should be in your story. The meaning and the role of each part, how much and how little to give to the reader at each step. And so on. Very cool stuff that makes a lot of sense. Try it for yourself. Maybe you're already using it, knowingly or not.

So now I think I can say that I’m on track and that I have a very good map. There’s still plenty of freedom of exploring on the road, but the landmarks are there...

And Summer has begun today, which is a good thing...


Charles Gramlich said...

I tend never to plot much more than the next few chapters ahead. Means I sometimes run into deadends.

Vesper said...

I know, Charles... :-)

Roland D. Yeomans said...

I spotlighted this post on my blog today. And I, too, am having to swim against the undertow of conflicting story arcs in THE NOT-SO-INNOCENTS AT LARGE, the sequel to my latest Steampunk. :-(

the walking man said...

I should probably try reading up on how to write a story, but I think I have told all the ones I have within me. Now if someone truly wants a story from my reality they have to go back and connect the dots.

Although on the other hand, you have another stroy to tell and at least you found a method that got your fingers moving again. That is a good thing.

By the by I gave you a long response to the NG article.

Naquillity said...

so glad you were able to find a way to write the story in your head. keep up the great work. have a great night~

Optimistic Existentialist said...

One of these days I may finally try to write a story :)

I wish you a terrific weekend!

Magyar said...

__A meadow's stonewall; each stone supports another, but one remains the key.

written wall
each idea holds one more


Vesper said...

Roland, thanks! The Save the Cat beat sheet is another good method, though I find it somehow more difficult to follow...

Mark, the stories/memoirs you shared on your blog I loved them all - you have great talent and a writing voice that I love.

Naquility, thank you! So very nice to see you here again. :-)

Keith, you should! Hope you had a wonderful weekend.

Doug, I really love this idea... And one remaining the key... Thank you!