Once upon a time, everyone in the world thought they knew how to tell a story. And generally speaking, they did.
Some tellers of these stories thought that the structure of a story should look like a math problem — with specific necessary plot points, rising action and logical conclusions. Some tellers of these stories thought that structure of a story is more like a recipe for meatloaf: throw enough stuff in and hope for the best.
The purpose of studying plot is to get a bird’s eye view of structure, events and rising action. Having a plot, understanding plot, looking for the upward climb of action in the story is helpful, and will make you story more recognizable to the reader.
Admittedly, I avoid math like the way J.D. Salinger avoids Facebook, but this? This is beautiful!
Yes, we can tell a story without understanding theory, just like we can make meatloaf with beef, bread crumbs and eggs.
So if you think of storytelling like meatloaf, or if you think of storytelling like math, remember this: your readers deserve your best. Do what you can to give it to them.
Katharine Grubb is a homeschooling mother of five, a novelist, a baker of bread, a comedian wannabe, a former running coward, PTSD survivor, and the author of Write A Novel In 10 Minutes A Day. Besides pursuing her own fiction and nonfiction writing dreams, she also leads 10 Minute Novelists on Facebook, an international group for time-crunched writers that focuses on tips, encouragement and community. She lives in Massachusetts with her family. She also co-hosts a writing podcast with Kathryn Lang. Listen to WriteTalk here. Her new novel, Soulless Creatures, which is about two 18 year old boys, not vampires, will be released August 2015.
Working-class future leader Roy Castleberry and pampered over-thinker Jonathan Campbell are 18-year-old freshmen at the University of Oklahoma who think they know everything. Roy thinks Jonathan could succeed in wooing Abby if he stopped obsessing over Walden. Jonathan thinks Roy could learn to be self-actualized if he’d stop flirting with every girl he meets. They make a wager: if Roy can prove that he has some poetic thought, some inner life, A SOUL, then Jonathan will give him the car he got for graduation. Roy takes the bet because he thinks this is the easiest game he’s ever played. Roy spends the rest of the school year proving the existence of his soul, competing against Jonathan for Abby’s attention, dodging RAs who are curious about the fake ID ring in his room and dealing with his past. For Roy and Jonathan, college life in 1986 is richer, (both experientially and financially) than either of them expected.