Reblog: 7 Narrative Structures

Greetings from the Nanosphere! I am desperately behind, but slowly closing up that gap. I’m not quite as panicky as I was feeling last week, haha. Things might be okay? We’ll see. In fact, I was so wrapped up in writing tonight that I just barely remember that I haven’t posted for the week yet! Whoops!

You’ll remember a few months ago that I wrote about the Hero’s Journey and mentioned that there were plenty of other story structures floating about. And then a couple weeks ago, I reblogged Steve Seager’s Beyond the Hero’s Journey, which highlighted four of those other structures.

Well, this week we have even more! With a hop, skip, and a jump over to the Reedsy blog, you can read up on seven narrative structures and how to use them. And that’ll give me a little more time to finish up my own narrative structure! One week to go!

PS- To all my fellow Americans, happy Thanksgiving this week! Be safe!

Story Structure: 7 Narrative Structures All Writers Should Know

Nothing makes the challenging task of writing a novel feel more attainable than adopting a story structure to help you plot your narrative.

While using a pre-existing blueprint might make you worry about ending up with a formulaic, predictable story, you can probably analyze most of your favorite books using various narrative structures that writers have been using for decades (if not centuries)!

This post will reveal seven distinct story structures that any writer can use to build a compelling narrative. But first…

What is narrative structure?

Narrative structure (also known as story structure) is the order in which elements of a narrative are presented to the reader or audience. It is composed of two things:

  • Plot — the chain of events that occur in the book; and
  • Story elements — the underlying factors that drive the narrative action: protagonists, conflicts, setting, etc.

By weaving together a plot and its driving forces, a storyteller can draw connections between ‘things that happen’ and ‘things that matter.’ A tale about two vastly different people falling in love can also be about the value of compromise. An account of two brothers who rob a bank can become an examination of greed, loyalty, or the failure of the American Dream.

Good narrative structure is about presenting the plot and story elements to allow readers to understand what is happening and what it all means. It unravels the plot in a way that doesn’t accidentally confuse the reader while also pushing along the characters’ development and the central conflicts. Structure helps the storyteller deliver a satisfying narrative experience — whether it’s meant to be happy, hilarious, or tragic.

Writers can turn to story theory and narrative structure whenever their story just isn’t working; when they feel that their writing is awkward, aimless, or — worst of all — boring. Writing is an art, but if there’s one part of the craft that’s closer to science, this would be it. Become a master of story structure, and you will have the world at your feet.

Ready to read the rest? Go check it out! And until next week, happy writing!

Reblog: Why e-Learning Is Killing Education

Okay, first off, completely ignore the title, because it’s a click-baity title that really has veeeery close to nothing to do with what the video is actually about, when in reality, Aaron Barth’s Ted Talk is actually about storytelling. Not sure why they didn’t just say that.

Also, this guy super looks like my high school physics teacher. It’s verging on creepy. Maybe long lost twin separated at birth? Who knows!

Reblog: Beyond the Hero’s Journey

Hey, friends! It’s November, and that means reblogs! You’ll remember I wrote about the Hero’s Journey a few weeks ago and mentioned that it was by no means the only story structure out there. Well the fantastic Steve Seager has you covered! Check out his blog to read the full article! Happy writing!

Beyond the Hero’s Journey: Four innovative models for digital story design

by Steve Seager on April 8, 2015

The_Hero__s_Journey_by_Dunlavey-BW

Hero’s Journey image above excerpted from Action Philosophers! © Ryan Dunlavey and Fred Van Lente.

All storytelling has inherent structures. But for the most part, communicators and creators employ just one.  It really is time to move beyond the Hero’s Journey. Here are four alternative models to get you in the mood.

Roland Barthes, master linguist and semiotician once said: “There are countless forms of narrative in the world.” And yet the majority of western storytellers have been ploughing just one narrative model for over 60 years: Joseph Campbell’s Hero’s Journey from the Hero with a Thousand Faces.

While it has its value, Campbell’s model is, I would argue, no longer a useful model for narrative design on a structural level. Down below, I offer four alternative narrative structures that we could use to design intelligent stories more fitting to our contemporary context. But why the big deal about structure?

Ready for the full meal deal? Hop on over to steveseager.com for the whole article!

Reblog: 12 Ideas for Writing Through the Pandemic

Hi friends! Another NaNo month is upon us, and so are the reblogs! This article by Natalie Proulx seems to be geared a little toward people who aren’t already writers, but I had fun doing some of them with my kiddos. (We enjoyed #10 best- writing comics!) Hopefully you’ll find some good ways to keep creative while things are still crazy. Hang in there!

12 Ideas for Writing Through the Pandemic With The New York Times

A dozen writing projects — including journals, poems, comics and more — for students to try at home.

<img src="https://static01.nyt.com/images/2020/04/25/style/oakImage-1584969107780-LN/oakImage-1584969107780-articleLarge.jpg?quality=75&auto=webp&disable=upscale&quot; alt="In Málaga, Spain, Marcos Moreno Maldonado makes drawings that weave around his words, keeping a diary that is botanical, beautiful and strange. Keeping a journal is just one of 12 writing projects we suggest for students. <a href="https://www.nytimes.com/2020/03/30/style/coronavirus-diaries-social-history.html">Related Article
In Málaga, Spain, Marcos Moreno Maldonado makes drawings that weave around his words, keeping a diary that is botanical, beautiful and strange. Keeping a journal is just one of 12 writing projects we suggest for students. Related ArticleCredit…Marcos Moreno Maldonado
Natalie Proulx

By Natalie Proulx

April 15, 2020

The coronavirus has transformed life as we know it. Schools are closed, we’re confined to our homes and the future feels very uncertain. Why write at a time like this?

For one, we are living through history. Future historians may look back on the journals, essays and art that ordinary people are creating now to tell the story of life during the coronavirus.

But writing can also be deeply therapeutic. It can be a way to express our fears, hopes and joys. It can help us make sense of the world and our place in it.

Plus, even though school buildings are shuttered, that doesn’t mean learning has stopped. Writing can help us reflect on what’s happening in our lives and form new ideas.

We want to help inspire your writing about the coronavirus while you learn from home. Below, we offer 12 projects for students, all based on pieces from The New York Times, including personal narrative essays, editorials, comic strips and podcasts. Each project features a Times text and prompts to inspire your writing, as well as related resources from The Learning Network to help you develop your craft. Some also offer opportunities to get your work published in The Times, on The Learning Network or elsewhere.

We know this list isn’t nearly complete. If you have ideas for other pandemic-related writing projects, please suggest them in the comments.

In the meantime, happy writing!

Want to keep reading? Follow the link to the full article!

Reblog: 8 Things I Wish I Knew When I was Writing my First Novel

Ahhh, the month of wacky reblogs continues! When I asked my writing pals what their favorite writing videos were, this one from Hank Green floated to the top. (And if you like it, it links to more in-depth videos too! Into the rabbit hole we go!) In all my fantastic ignorance, I only really knew Hank Green from SciShow (which I’ve linked on this blog before), so I’m intrigued by a book being out there too, with another on the way! Who knew?

Next week is the last week of month, and then we’ll get ourselves back to usual and I’ll stop just reposting other people’s content. Until then, happy writing!

Reblog: 21 Tips for Successful Collaboration

Howdy! I am really really terrifyingly far behind on Camp NaNo this year. Like “not sure I’m gonna be able to pull this off” behind. I have eight days left to write and just under fifty-percent of the ground left to cover. I am scared.

I’ve never tried to do nonfiction like this before and it is hard. Not that fiction is all that easy either, but I seriously miss being able to just make things up as I go. I’m aaaaalmost desperate enough to start counting words from work emails and texts to my mom, because, yes, I typed them, didn’t I? IT COUNTS. (Gosh I hope it doesn’t come to that.)

Next week is the last week that you’ll have to deal with my terror-weeping and then it will all be over, one way or the other. Maybe I’ll hit my stride by then and start making good progress? We’ll see!

Until then, enjoy this break from my whining reblog from The Book Designer’s Helen Sedwick titled “21 Tips for Creating a Successful Writing Collaboration”.

21 Tips for Creating a Successful Writing Collaboration


By Helen Sedwick

When a writing collaboration works, partners inspire and complement one other. The creative process is less lonely. But when collaborations fail, the drama may be as ugly as a Hollywood divorce.

For every successful writing partnership, there are dozens of failed ones despite the best of intentions. Not everyone is a team player, and not every team is a winner.

To improve the odds of a successful writing partnership take the time to put the collaboration agreement in writing. Most people resist this idea. Like a prenuptial agreement, it kills the romance. They don’t realize the process of preparing an agreement may be more valuable than the result. If writers do a good job discussing issues at the start, they are less likely to have misunderstandings later.

Making Decisions

So before you jump into a co-writing project, discuss and write out the following…

Ready to read the rest? Head on over to The Book Designer for the full article!

Reblog: The Beat Sheet

I just spent an hour writing and rewriting this post and, forget it, I’m clearly not ready to talk about it. Suffice it to say that I just had an absolute nightmare of a weekend and it’s a good thing I’m scheduled for a reblog today.

The Beat Sheet was a recent discovery and I’m still figuring out how it fits into my outlining style. I’ve experimented with following it exactly, and not at all, and with a few variances in between. We’ll see what I settle on in the end.

Not sure what the Beat Sheet is? Let’s ask Rob Price of SAGU’s Thought Hub!

Your Screenplay and the Beat Sheet

Blake Snyder’s beat sheet from Save the Cat! The Last Book on Screenwriting You’ll Ever Need is the primary structure or foundation by which we are going to build our story. It’s the skeleton of the screenplay on which we will soon put on flesh. The beat sheet is a lot more than just Act I, Act II and Act III.

Snyder offers 15 different “beats” that writers of a screenplay should be cognizant to include in the storyline. The numbers next to each of these beats represents approximately on which page or page range they should occur (given that each page of a screenplay is typically about one minute of screen time).

By the way, assembling your beat sheet is the fourth stage that Snyder recommends when preparing your screenplay. If you’re interested in reading about the other stages in a screenplay, check out my 8-Step Guide to Writing Great Screenplays.

The Beats of a Screenplay

Opening Image (Page 1): This is the first impression of the movie: tone, mood, colors, type, scope, genre, the frame universe of the story.

Theme Stated (Page 5): Someone poses a question or makes a statement that reveals theme, but make it a passing offhand comment. Should not be “on the nose” or “too obvious.”

Set-up (Pages 1-10): This is the “make or break” section where you must grab audience or else lose them altogether.

Catalyst (Page 12): This beat can also be called the inciting incident or new opportunity. It is the moment that sets the rest of the film into motion.

Debate (Pages 12-25): The debate gives the hero the chance to say “should I really do this?” and shows how the hero could possibly answer the question or solve the problem, which leads to a firm decision to…

Break into Act II (Page 25): In Act II we leave the old world (the thesis) and journey into the upside down new world (antithesis).

Ready to read the rest? Head on over to the Thought Hub for more!

Reblog: The Introvert’s Guide to Writing Conferences

Hey, look at that, it’s November! If you follow me on Twitter, you’ve maybe seen a bit of my drama surrounding NaNo this year. (Will she? Won’t she??) I really want to do NaNo- I love it and I’ve done every session every year since the birth of my first child. I’m kind of a NaNo junkie. But this November, through a series of unfortunate events (or just numerous time consuming events, really) has become incredibly busy, to the point that I don’t know if NaNo is even possible without dropping the ball on things at work or at home. (And I don’t mean just not doing the laundry. I mean like making meals for my children, getting them to school on time, not getting arrested for neglect sorts of things.)

But! Because I am a junkie and don’t know when to say no, I’ve decided to give it one week. The last few days have been… not promising, honestly, and it’s only going to get worse starting today. If I get to the end of week one and find that it’s really not working out, I am allowing myself to quit with minimal guilt. (I mean, this is me so there will definitely be guilt, but I will do my best to minimize it.)

And so it’s reblog time! I found this post by Kerrie Flanagan (via Writer’s Digest) to be helpful while getting myself ready for my conference a couple months ago, so maybe you will too! I’ll let you know how I’m doing with NaNo next week and, until then, happy writing!

 

By:  | 

You did it! You signed up for a writing conference, and now the event is right around the corner. Slight panic sets in as you realize there will lots of people, you might not know anyone and you’d rather walk through fiery hot coals than network with strangers. If you relate to any of these statements, then I’ll go out on a limb and say you are an introvert. The good news is, so are a majority of other writers at the conference and there are strategies you can use that will allow you to enjoy the event and make some great connections.

Set Intentions

A few weeks before the conference, think about what you hope to get from the event. If you are still fairly new to writing or this is your first conference, you may want to take a broad approach, something that gives you a good overview about writing and publishing.

If you have been to writing conferences before or you have certain goals for your writing, consider a more laser-focused approach. Do you want to focus on the craft of writing? The business side of publishing? Building a platform? Finding an agent? Whatever the focus, make your plan with that in mind. Look over the schedule and choose sessions, workshops and other extras (critiques, one-on-one consults, pitch sessions…) based on your goals.

Be Professional

Ready to read some more? Hop on over to Writer’s Digest for the full article!