Get ready, because you and I are going back to the basics. A bit of Writing 101 if you will. Ground level, and building layer by layer until we reach the moon. Are you in?
Where do you, or I, begin? What should we consider as the foundation of storytelling?
Take a look at the buildings above? Where do you think they started?
With a plan. Blueprints. Schematics. They knew how they would create the buildings before they broke ground.
You need structure.
Have no fear, pantser, this might not be what you think it is. While the buildings above definitely need in-depth details before one shovel touches earth, your story doesn’t. However, you need to have an idea where your story is headed.
There are endless examples of how to structure your story. They are as varied as the authors who use them. So, what’s the right way? What way should you use?
For me, I like simplicity. Now, I could go as simple as you need a beginning, a middle, and an end, but that’s as helpful as saying you need paper and a pen or a computer. It doesn’t get us anywhere.
The best story structure advice I’ve noticed came from author Linda Rondeau (http://lindarondeau.com/) during a course I took (because I love to refresh my learning as much as possible) through American Christian Fiction Writers (ACFW).
Her story structuring came in 5 easy points:
- The Initiating Event
- The Inciting Event
- The Crisis Event
- The Climax
- The Denouement
You can detail each of these as much as you want, but it is essential that you include these in your storytelling. If any of these 5 Key Points is missing, your story will collapse on itself. Guaranteed.
Let’s take a look at what each point means.
The Initiating Event
This introduces us to your protagonist at a minimum. It gives us reason to care about them, reason to want to read their story. Here we find their voice (their agency, personality, etc.) If you don’t have a strong initiating event, you don’t have a story. This also helps us understand the plot choices throughout the book. (Who are the Pevensies, and why do they go through some old wardrobe?)
The Inciting Event
What sets things into motion? What starts your protagonists story arc? This is where it all begins. (Luke buys the droids, discovers an old message, finds Old Ben, etc.)
The Crisis Event
The choice your protagonist makes that cements the rest of their journey. There is no turning back, no do-overs after this point. For my story The Piano Player, this was when Mike decided to try and save Megan from Euterpe, the ancient Greek Goddess.
Everything comes to a head. Harry stops Quirrell from gaining the Sorcerer’s Stone. Jody has to kill Flag, then runs away. Protagonist and antagonist battle it out in a big, game-changing way.
Where do we go from here? How does your story conclude in a satisfying way? What is the outcome of all that led to this point (including that game-changing climax). Does Jody return home? Did Harry save the day, and what about those house points?
With these 5 key points to storytelling, you can structure your masterpiece with ease. Without them, and your story will go nowhere.
Your thoughts? What story structuring advice have you found the most helpful? The most hurtful? Let me know in the comments below.
I was conflicted on what to write today. I wanted to start a Writing Basics on my blog, because we all can use a refresher or learn something new. I also wanted to write something about what happened in Vegas. I’m angry for a lot of reasons, and maybe that’s why I chose not to say anything about it right now.
So, I hope this intro to my writing basics helped, or at least was a good reminder. Take care this week, everyone. Wrap your arms around your loved ones and kiss them. This world has a lot of evil in it, but there is always hope. Always. You are all in my thoughts.
And, if you’re an author, I want to offer you help in any way I can. Check out my Author Services page to see more.
Like what you’re reading? Join my New story Email Group. You’ll get the latest news and access to stories you won’t find anywhere else. (And offers for my books not available to anyone else).
Need a good book? These are what you’re looking for:
Yanka and the Dragons:
Ten year-old Yanka Ouedraogo finds that dragons are not monsters of stories. They are real, and they are coming. After the arrival of mysterious Princess Su Yin, Yanka discovers her mama once bore the title of Dragon Watcher for the legendary Knights of Tiqvah. Mama leaves to stop the onslaught of dragons and tasks Yanka with protecting her two younger brothers. One problem: after her father’s death, Yanka fears she’s the last person to protect anyone. When dragons invade her village, Yanka learns they want one thing: her. Can she escape the invasion and prove able to protect her brothers? Will the mysterious Knights of Tiqvah arrive to save the day? Or will a new Dragon Watcher appear and stop the carnage in time? (Middle Grade level, but good for the whole family!)
The Piano Player:
World famous musician Mike Jonas broke a promise. Greek muse of music, Euterpe, gave him fame and fortune in return for his complete devotion. When a new love enters his life, Euterpe strikes. She kidnaps Mike’s fiancée Megan and threatens her life unless Mike proves that he still belongs to her. In his quest to fulfill Euterpe’s test, Mike is shaken to his core and all he holds as true is questioned. (Does contain language that might not be suitable for children.)