All posts for the month May, 2014

Story Structure

Published May 10, 2014 by ellarite

I’ve spent the past few weeks in study mode. I get that way when I’m inspired. So what grabbed my attention for so long, you ask? (Even if you didn’t ask, I’ll tell you anyway.)

In two words: Heather Hildenbrand.
In two more words: Story Structure.

Heather Hildenbrand, author of the “Dirty Blood” series of YA books and founder of Elephantine Publishing, taught a workshop entitled “Plotting or Pantsing”.

The main objective of her lecture was to inform us that “every story needs structure”.

I can hear the collective sighs and multiple ‘duhs’ from all of you, but stay with me. Heather explained that each writer should plan the critical elements of their story.

For example: The first quarter of your story must include the following: Character introduction, Normal Life, Opening Hook, Inciting Incident and the first major plot point (your character decides to leave, act, search, etc.). The first plot point concludes the first quarter of the story and opens the proverbial door to ACT 2.

Heather recommended that all aspiring writers read the book:

“Story Engineering: Mastering the 6 Core Competencies of Successful Writing” by Larry Brooks.

I drove straight to Barnes and Nobles and purchased the book. I bought other books, but I won’t bore you with my personal addiction.

Anyway, I’ve learned so much from Mr. Brooks, that I spent the last few weeks going through my ‘trunk stories’ and ‘rejected submissions’. Boy, did I find problems. Some stories lacked a proper concept. Other stories lacked structure.

In fact, most of my stories were a series of well-written vignettes, vice a well-structured story.  For example:

I have a futuristic post-apocalypse story about a government with only 3 leaders. They’re eating dinner while waiting for their possible execution. Don’t laugh, it looked good in my head.
* The problem: the reader doesn’t know what’s going on or why? The reader can’t empathize with any of my characters because of poor set up on my part. Mr. Brooks explain that empathy is one of the critical elements of your story. (Oops, my bad.) I won’t bother you with the other issues in this story.

I’ve decided to revamp, re-polish and resubmit my old stories using the 6 Core Competencies. I’ll let you know if I’m successful or not. It worked for Heather Hildenbrand and she was kind enough to share, so I’m hoping it works for me.

Until I write again,