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  1. #31
    We Read for Light Window Bar's Avatar
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    architecture of stories

    Quote Originally Posted by Inkstain View Post
    ... unfortunately many of the stories I read and critiqued when getting my literature degree as well as now when I critique stories as part of the writing groups I belong too, will lack one or more of these basic components. Stories will lack strong characters. They may meander aimlessly, with no clearly defined plot. Or the ending is vague as though the writer never had a clear ending in mind.
    Hello Inkstain! Yeah, I too have a Literature degree ... in fact, it's a double major with Creative Writing. Sometimes the combo feels like having both of my feet set in buckets of concrete. Natural born storytellers are few and far between. It may be a form of modern hubris to believe that we can train any story lover to be a storyteller. What the hell--I'm at a time in life that I can do what I choose!

    Keep on stainin' those fingers! -- WB

  2. #32
    Chocoholic ShellyS's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Inkstain View Post
    Yep, you would think it an obvious fact, unfortunately many of the stories I read and critiqued when getting my literature degree as well as now when I critique stories as part of the writing groups I belong too, will lack one or more of these basic components. Stories will lack strong characters. They may meander aimlessly, with no clearly defined plot. Or the ending is vague as though the writer never had a clear ending in mind. Therefore, when I'm writing my own stuff or talking about books I have read with my friends, this basic structure is something often mentioned.

    It should go without saying. But apparently it still needs to be said.
    Yes, that's why I asked for something more substantial. It is quite possible that people have trouble with it because they don't know how to do it. Putting the structure into a lecture can be intimidating to some people and they or others might have problems extrapolating the bits they need to help them improve.

    So, I'm wondering if anyone has a way to help people see the structure, instead of explaining what it is, and to offer suggestions re: how to improve their structure.

    In the 15-20 years I've been training staff, I've encountered all sorts of learners and some require different techniques than others, which is something that reinforces what I learned in college while getting my BA in psychology.

    BTW, vague endings can be wonderful, and I've loved many books that had them as often as ones with clearcut endings.

  3. #33
    Yo, Window Bar, aren't English degrees great! You can do so much with them after college. I use mine as a bookmark for really big books. I dual majored in that and psych. I'm not sure which came in less handy. I'm a project manager now, go figure.

    Shelly, I think I know where your going with that but without knowing where a particular person is having issues with basic story structure, it is difficult to explain how to help them see it and improve the area they may need more work in. Some writers make great beginnings but then lose steam. Others know where they want to go but not how to get there. The best I could do without a specific case would be to reiterate the various points I try to cover in my own writing.

    When I write, I go by this tested framework for telling a story:

    I. Introduce the characters and foreshadow the conflict

    II. Introduce the antagonist and put the protagonist in peril

    III. Give the protagonist a brief respite and an explanation of the conflict

    IV. Place the protagonist back into the thick of the action and give the antagonist the upper hand.

    V. Bring about a confrontation along with a moment of epiphany/revelation for the protagonist

    VI. Resolution, the time to tie up loose ends or set the stage for a sequel.
    Last edited by Inkstain; January 14th, 2010 at 08:29 PM.

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