Saturday, June 02, 2012

Story Structure -- The Moment

Ah, lazy summer days have arrived. I hope you make some worthy goals for the these days. I like to keep it short and sweet for the summer months. Through June I will focus on story structure.   For me, there are five essential elements that stand out in terms of story structure. I'm going to beat these elements out over the next five weeks.

The first element of a rocking plot is "the moment everything changes." This moment usually shows up on the first page, occasionally on the first line and sometimes hangs back until the end of the first chapter and once in a blue moon hangs back to the third chapter. The author usually establishes an every day world and then there is a moment that sets of a string of dominoes tumbling that will continually fall over until the end of the story. Without this moment you have no story.

So dig around in your work-in-progress and ask yourself, what has happened upfront that I can't take out this novel or I don't have a novel.  If you don't have a moment like that you have a problem. Another problem can be too many moments where everything changes. I mean, the chickadee receives a letter, loses her job, crashes her car, gets bad news from the doctor, signs up for the camp, volunteers at the homeless shelter, inherits a million dollars, receives a mysterious message from a prince and gains an evil stepmother. I mean where is this story going?  You have to pick the one moment and stick with it like glue. No domino moment or multiple domino moments and your readers are going to grumble and lose interest.

My best advice identify the moment that everything changes.  Your work will thank you.

Here is my doodle, "Perspective."



Life is not measured by the breaths we take, but by the moments that take our breath away. Hilary Cooper






5 comments:

Faith Pray said...

Thank you, Molly! I will be looking at placement of "the moment" next writing session. I haven't really thought about that before, but it makes perfect sense! I hope you are having a breezy start to summer! Ours is typical Pacific NW - chilly and rain-fuzzed.

Vijaya said...

Just what I needed to read as I begin a new notebook for a new wip ... I figure I can begin jotting down scenes while the kids are swimming.

MollyMom103 said...

Hi, Faith. Ooh, I hope that find the perfect placement soon. We are having sultry summmer days. The heat is like a character in a story here. I miss the chill of NW sometimes, also like a character in story.

Vijaya, I want to start a new book. It's been a while and soul feels hungry for a blank page.

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Candilynn Fite said...

Okay, checked this out after reading today's post. I definitely have "the moment" everything changes for my mc. Now, I just need to go back and make sure it's obvious for the reader and make sure they care. Thx, Molly.