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Sunday, September 16, 2018

Writing the bones

cj Sez: To quote a friend of mine, hurricanes have the predicable trajectories of a Frisbee.
Hurricane Florence spaghetti model
   Please join me in praying for the victims of Hurricane Florence and helping when you can.
   “As I have mentioned before—” That’s my sneaky way to introduce a subject I’ve written about before, story structure.

   Back when I was still working full time, I spent three days in San Francisco at a screenwriting seminar led by author, lecturer, and story consultant Robert McKee. The experience was invaluable in showing me how to create the scenes that create a story. Then years later (in 2014), I happened across a post titled “Adapting screenplay to novels,” by author James Preston. Mr. Preston’s post explained how he reverse engineered a screenplay into a story.

   Side Note: The Oxford Dictionary defines “story” as:  An account of imaginary or real people and events told for entertainment.

The following is an excerpt from Mr. Preston’s post.

“Remember, a story is about somebody who wants something.  Something stops them from getting it.  They try to get it and either succeed or fail.

A Plot Point is something that changes the story, turns it into something unexpected, usually by changing the heroine’s goals.

Since I am talking about adapting this structure to novel writing, I will use page numbers to show locations in the manuscript.  Assume a 200-page manuscript.  We’ll see how it works as minutes.

Let’s talk about the bones, the skeleton that is one way of building your story.

1. Hook.  Something interesting happens that grabs the reader’s attention.  This is the very beginning of the story and it is important!

2. Twist. The story goes off in a different direction.  It’s not what you thought it would be.  This can come anytime before . . .

3. Plot Point One.  About 20% in.  For our mythical 200-page books, this is around page 40.

4. Midpoint. A watershed moment.  You guessed it.  Page 100 .

5. Plot Point Two. Everything the heroine did is wrong.  Page 160.

6. Climax. The heroine solves the problem, or doesn’t.  This is less precise.  Say around page 180.

7. Denouement.  Loose ends are tied up.  Everybody who wasn’t killed and eaten goes home.”

  So my question is, how would your novel stack up against Mr. Preston’s skeleton? Mine will need work.
BSP (blatant self promotion)
   A book signing is in my future and yours too should you choose to stop by. Sept 29 at Mobile Bookseller from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Local authors are being featured, so if you’re in the Mobile, AL, area, you are cordially invited to stop by and say “hey!”

That’s it for today, folks. You-all guys keep on keeping on, and I’ll try to do the same.

Stop by Amazon and pick up copies of DEADLY STAR and CHOOSING CARTER, (to keep me in good standing with Simon&Schuster), and if you take a moment to leave a review (good, bad, or indifferent), I shall be forever grateful.
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