Alright! Hello and good morning,
Quick detour, and then off with the planned post. Thank you, thank you, thank you! Everyone’s enormous amount of support (3 follows, and 4 likes in seven of what is typically the darkest, quietest hours) means a lot to me. For one it means you are all either more of a night owl, or an early bird, than I am. It also means that my readership is not dead, even though it perhaps deserves to be. So for that, I will say it again. Thank you.
Okay then, on to the topic of the day. For today I want to talk about: my up and coming project The Digitante, dissecting plot structure, as well as how to–or, in some cases, not to–construct story from such basic derivatives such as story structure.*
As of last night, I am proud to say that I am 11,000 words into my newest story. The Digitante is a creation of two minds, mine and my little brothers, and that makes it all that more dear to me. If I were to throw labels its way, I would say things like Cyberpunk, Dystopian, Science-Fiction, and other such labels that only tell you what it might be, not what it is. But I am not sure just how much I want to share yet, so I’m going to keep this one close to the bone until I am good and ready.**
So here is where we come to the crux of the problem. This story, like all of my stories, knows where it wants to start, and where it wants to end, but not all the comings and goings of that gigantic, unbridgeable middle. It is always here that I turn to things like lectures on plot structuring, story arcs, and the like.
Of late I have been reading up on, and watching, things like Dan Well’s 7 point story structure. There is a good write up of it here, as well as a video of Dan lecturing on it. I first came across Dan’s take on structuring via Writing Excuses here, but the example didn’t translate well for me. Despite the fact that it didn’t translate, I was intrigued by Dan’s concept the same as I am by most anyone’s…i.e. if you talk about writing fiction in any intelligent way, I am ready to listen.
Now there are many Point-of-Views on Plot Structure, and with each one comes a new way to dissect it. Take for example the basic Three Act Structure made famous by every ancient Shakespearean tome, play, Hollywood film…etc.
This format is almost synonymous with Dan’s 7 Point Story Structure. His includes: Hook, Plot Turn 1, Pinch 1, Mid-Point, Plot Turn 2,Pinch 2, and Resolution. After looking at enough of these you will quite see just how synonymous each one is to another, and that’s the rub. When you look at say, The Hero’s Journey, The Three Act Structure, the four structures represented within the M.I.C.E. Quotient, or any other format you can find; you come to ask yourself which one is right for your story. Or, worse yet, you start to wonder if your story is defective because it doesn’t seem to conform to one of these structures.
I’ve already made it clear that I have a hard time with the middles of my stories. I always seem to know what I want to start with, and that informs me of where I might want to end up, but the ‘how-do-I-get-there’ stage is always the hardest for me. Now that I’ve given you lots of material to peruse, and maybe even raised a few questions for yourself, I think I’ve come to my own conclusion.
I think that all of these structures, although never meant to be ignored or forgotten, are meant to inform you of the basic way stories are read, not created. I at least seem to be too organic for this kind of structuring. I don’t mind tearing a story apart to get at the bones of their story, but to build from the bones out is, to me, barbaric. I suppose this plants me in the discovery writer category, but that wouldn’t be entirely true either because if I went all willy-nilly on a story–which I have done–the end result would be a hot, jumbled mess often too difficult to slog back through and parse out any semblance of story. I have to attack story somewhere right smack dab in the middle–a little structure, a little organic searching, more structure, and then more searching.
This back and forth seems to work well for me. What works for you? I’d love to hear in the comments the different ways you’ve made a story come together. Tell me about how you jumped for joy when you finished, tell me about how you had a moment of inspiration and, if you have any plot theories of your own, I’d love if you shared those too.
*To say that plot structuring is basic is, I know, sacrilege to anyone who struggles with it, but please know that, in this instance, what I mean is that any singular component of a story must be in and of itself, basic in comparison to the story as a whole, and that to create an entire story from just the idea of structure is, at least for me, near impossible. (Wow that was a long footnote!)
**In my experience, the sharing of something often times dilutes the purity of what I am holding within, so…my apologies, but I can’t share. Not yet.
***For the most part