Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Story Structure, parts of the story

by C. Michelle Jefferies

Okay, last week I gave you an introduction to story structure. Today we are going to talk about the parts of the story. I am going to mention a few points like plot point one, mid point, plot point two. We'll go into those next week. All you need to know at this point in time is that those points divide the story into fourths.

Writing a book is alot like baking muffins. You have flour, sugar, eggs, oil, and leavening. leave out one of these things or put them in in the wrong ammounts or at the wrong time and your muffins are ruined. If you follow the recipe you are hopefully making some delicious  muffins or stories.

So the following list are the parts of the story and where they occur. Each part is aproximately 1/4 of the book. They can be longer or storter, but it's generally a good guideline.

Introduction - Beginning to Plot Point 1

   Characters ordinary life, setting established
         (Within the first chapters you need to give the reader a clue as to the conflict and character arc of the rest of the story.  I call this moment the introduction of theme. Others call it the hook.  If the reader doesnt feel a connection to the story or characters in the first pages they will most likely put the book down. )

Reactive Stage - Plot Point 1 to Mid Point

   “What the heck happened?”
          (plot point one is the inciting incident, the moment that makes your character begin to move. The reactive stage is what the MC is doing in reaction to that point of movement. All of your scenes must reflect the reaction, and "not having a clear plan of action yet" part of the story. )

Active Stage - Mid Point to Plot Point 2

   “Not on my watch!” (or "oh no you didn't just point that gun at me." )
         (Mid point is the moment where the MC changes from being the victim of the story to being the hero. The next stage is the active stage where the protagonist, or antagonist is pusing the plot forward to the climax of the story. Your plotting and scenes must reflect that ideal.)

Resolution - Plot Point 2 to End of Book

   Coming home, tie up all ends
          (In a stand alone, all major character arc's, plot problems, and conflict must be wrapped up in a manner satisfactory to the reader. A few loose ends may be left undone to make the reader think, but they must be small and insignigant in regards to the main plot and arc's. In a series, all of the plot, character arc's and conflict that is pertinent to that books arc must be tied up. However, you can leave over series plot, character arc, and conflict open. If a character is leaving the series, their arc must be resolved. If a new character is being introdouced, their arc must be presented. If the antagonistic force in the book is unique to that book, it must be resolved. If the antagonistic arc is series wide it can be left un finished but should be addressed and the stakes and risks should be increased. )

In addition to the plot parts of the story there is a notion that your MC can go through character arc traits that describe some of the what and why of the characters progress through out the story.  Below is a list of the character parts as they relate to the plot parts. This list is from the author and book: Carol S. Pearson The Hero Within: Six Archetypes We Live By
    Lacks direction, lives in ordinary world
    Reacting to PP1, moving but no plan
    Reacting to MP, has clear plan, building to PP2
    PP2 and beyond, willing to sacrifice, becomes hero
          One thing to note, the main plot conflict should be resolved right around plot point 2 or the moment when the MC and the plot move from reaction stage, to resolution stage. Don't put the conflict and the character change in the middle of the resolution stage. The reader will most likely be dissatisfied with the end of the book and you dont want that.

1 comment:

Weaver said...

Awesome post. I love some those titles: What the heck happened?

That's the story of my life!