Welcome to The Bump House

Monday, January 10, 2011

Story v. Structure

This weekend, in my diligent highlighter aided study of Writer's Digest, I came across an article by Steven James. In the article, he discusses how to let go of the formulaic & embrace the transformative propeller of story arc & character development. Here's what he recommends.

Acclimatization - Grab the reader, set the background palette & the turn on the mood lighting. Don't forget to take that tone, missy or mister, as the case may be. Harmonics are destined to be undone & readers need to believe in the promise of character retuning to the fork of the writer's make & model.

Let the Catastrophe Begin - Pineapple upside-down cake - yum. No immediate resolution to the shake up. The external & internal dichotomy must fall on the rocks of crisis. Either give the MC what they want & then rip it out of their paws or deny the carrot & then dangle it on every page. Loss & longing; desire & avoidance - these set the tale for disaster to ensue.

Raise the Pickets - Or get out the pitch forks & chase the MC into the corner. Hurdle jumps & personal resolution - the external & internal complications must be overcome through the story. Crank up the heat on the MC's stew through consequences. To the heart throw another steak; the more personal, the greater the meal; waste & devastation make for good dessert. The 3 culminate in a story arc that engages readers & shows the MCs manuevers to return to "normal."

By George, I think he's got it - Elemental discovery engenders eternal change. By hook or by crook, the MC will meet the revelation head on. Choice, not chance is key. And, of course, as the reader is yippee-ing down the slide, they want to fall in the sand at the end of the ride. They want the surprise - the speed bump. But, it must be certain & unforeseen. It must also be a direct result of every bit of story that came before.

Do you have change for a ten? - Evolution or de-evolution of character will occur. In some cases, there will be both as multiple characters grace the stage. The struggles, internal & external, result in a new "normative" operating system. If the MC looks back to the start of their story, they will have the hindsight of struggle, juggle & arrival.

Until tomorrow.

Happy Writing,



  1. Very nicely done. I am a fan of story structure and continually learning, so many thanks for this. :)

    Angela @ The Bookshelf Muse

  2. Angela,
    You bet & thank you!!

  3. Yeah. I've been finding a lot of good advice in Writer's Digest too.

  4. Hooray for the writer's little helper. Don't know what I would do without it.
    Thanks for the comment, Kay.