Hi, folks, time to wrap up my posts on story structure. This month, I am using analogies with building structural elements to shed some light on story structural elements. These analogies only go so far. I hope you find something useful. I'm going to compare micro tension to fasteners in buildings. Micro tension is what holds your book together.
Nails and screws are tiny metal spikes that are driven into wood. Bolts are metal pins inserted through wood. Cleats are angle iron pieces used to strengthen wood. You get the picture. Structures are fastened together with buckets of small pieces of metal. This week is all about the fasteners that hold your book together.
Stories have many kinds of bits that hold them together. Without all these bits your story will fall apart. You are the master craftsperson and your decisions -- where to use fasteners and what fasteners to use -- will ultimately define your structure.
Here are some of the fasteners that you will use to make your structure hold together:
EMOTION -- This fastener is used for character. You must dig into what your character is feeling and shade your wording to capture that feeling exactly. Many people are turning to THE EMOTION THESAURUS by Angela Ackerman and Betsy Puglisi to sharpen the emotional expressions of their characters.
LYRICISM -- This fastener is about the words. You can go over the top with it, but tiny touches of brilliant lines (you know the ones you jot down because you have never heard that thought expressed so well) stitch your book together. Your book needs the wordsmith in you to do better.
SENSORY -- This fastener is used especially in setting. You must make your readers feel. Every book has a sensory psyche that creates mood. Setting must engage all five senses, and you will turn yourself inside out trying to find the perfect vivid descriptors. Do it. Surpass yourself.
SOUL -- This fastener is used to shore up theme. Stories must say something. Tiny fiery thoughts embedded throughout your story will give it a soul. Yes, you challenge readers. Slap them. Wake them up. Infuse your story with immaterial bits. What are you circling?
SUBTEXT -- This is a dialogue fastener.You must create tension by having your characters say one thing but mean another. Look closely at dialogue. Are your characters saying things they should be thinking?
SUFFERING -- This fastener is used to hinge character and plot. This isn't just about one more stupid thing happening to your character. You must do what rips out her heart, defeats her soul, breaks her spirit, ruins her life ... dang, writing is hard.
SURPRISE -- This is another plot fastener. It is all about finding the uncertain instead of the expected. Turn corners that are unexpected. Contrast characters, moods, settings in interesting ways. This tension keeps the reader with you. Take our breath away, please...
TRANSCENDENCE -- This fastener is a big risk one and isn't found in every book. If it works, you will never be forgotten, If it doesn't work, it will wreck your whole book. It takes chutzpah to use this one. Well crafted foreshadowing leads to that moment when the reader is like: Did she really go there? It's shocking. Readers will freak out. Blog posts will fly. Think about those moments that you can never forget in your reading experience and then let that into your creative blood and see what happens. Does your structure need this?
Be aware of the fasteners that hold your book together. Place each carefully with confidence. Donald Maass in his book FIRE IN THE FICTION has some good thoughts about micro tension that may be of some use to you. Whew, this was a big topic. I hope that you have enjoyed this series. Come back next week for my next series: Pitfalls in writing.
Here is this week's doodle: Abstract in watercolor
And finally a quote for your pocket.
I believe a leaf of grass is no less than the journey-work of the stars. Walt Whitman.