It may come as no surprise to some of my readers that I was largely uneducated regarding story structure while writing my first four novels. If I hit on what looks like a preplotted story arc, I attribute it to intuition or gut feeling about how my stories should develop. Now that I have my recent works and also my backlist published, I’m thinking a lot more about how to develop a story—a new story.
I’ve been reading writing blogs long enough to come across a lot of terminology on storytelling. Character archetypes, character arcs, the three act structure, inciting incidents, building tension, climaxes, and the list goes on. Generally, I love reading how-to guides. I am a do-it-yourselfer from way back. But I want to know more than simply the mechanics of something—I crave knowledge of principles, those amazing gems of information that can be applied to so many endeavors.
A while back, I purchased a few books on writing. For a beginner writer, The First Five Pages by Noah Lukeman helped me clean up my writing, back when I was primarily interested in snagging an agent. I also enjoyed Writing the Breakout Novel by Donald Maass. But the idea of constructing a story—well, I had stories and they were already pretty well formed, so I put the other books, Save the Cat by Blake Snyder and The Writer’s Journey by Christopher Volger on the shelf. They seemed like heavier reading that I would eventually get around to.
In fact, I have finally gotten around to reading them, but with a very specific purpose—I have a few characters with some interesting history, but I have no story. I mean, I know there’s a story to be told about a young man whose mother is delusional—she believes her son is blind. But how to write it! I may be as delusional as my character to think I can pull this one off, but still ... Hmm … this story could take a while … so, I thought I’d work out my process of discovery here on my blog and make this space earn its keep. Unless of course I get sidetracked with something else … Be warned, I sometimes get big ideas, and they often get messy. Now, if I can just avoid Exploding Head Syndrome!