Wednesday, April 25, 2012

The Four Parts of a Book

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.

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

An intro to Story Structure

A few weeks ago I was talking about Story Structure and secondary characters. Seeing that is it something I use every day in my writing, I often times assume that everyone has heard about it. I know I am wrong because I talk to writers and I see their faces as I start talking plot points.

I've decided that rather than me talking about some obscure thing, and no one understanding me, I'd give you the basics.

Larry Brooks created Story Structure based off what screen play writers call the three part act. Although with novel writing, there are four parts, and three major points, and two sub points. Each part has a specific time reason and amount in the story to make it successful.

While there are those out there that say he's full of hot air, I have proof that what he teaches works. I had been writing by the seat of my pants for years; writing, editing, and submitting with no success. No partial or full requests from agents or publishers. I found Story Structure, wrote my book and revised it using what I'd learned, and wrote, edited, and sold my MS in three years.

If you are happy with your current style of writing, wonderful! If you are tired of writers block, lacking character arc's, and sagging middles as well as a ton of other writer maladies, Story Structure may be just what you are looking for.

If you are curious and/or impatient you can find Brook's book Story Arcitecture in a number of places.

Join me next week as we talk about the parts of a story.

Monday, April 16, 2012

As if Life wasn't busy enough . . .

My son announced he's getting married in June. It's going to be a year of great things. :)

Monday, April 9, 2012

When It Rains It Pours

Today has been a good day. I won the grand prize on a friends blog, and


I can't describe how this feels. It's such an amazing thing. For those who are still trying, keep working. It can happen for you too.

Have an amazing week everyone.