The Writing Life, Part II: Framing the Story; Surprising Find!

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Although I haven’t done much in the way of ‘writing’ this month, I have accomplished a lot on Emmett’s story architecture. The framework looks fairly solid up to the midpoint of his story. Over the next few days, I’m sketching in Part III — the ‘hero in action’ part of his story.

I’m following a fairly common writing model demonstrated by the writer Larry Brooks in this link.

  • The hook
  • Part I — set up
  • First plot point
  • Part II — hero’s ‘journey’
  • Midpoint — new info enters story/hero changes direction
  • Part III — hero in action
  • Second plot point
  • Part IV — final story change
  • Ending/resolution

I tested this ‘framework theory’ before I jumped into the workshop Brooks has online. I selected several books from different genres (including a bio), and ‘mapped’ the stories using this framework. Sure enough, there was a very similar framework in place across the different genres.

I love putting large puzzles together: The more difficult they are, the better I like them. Source: www.librarything.com

I love putting large puzzles together: The more difficult they are, the better I like them. Source: http://www.librarything.com

Emmett’s life is like a jigsaw puzzle with 5,000 tiny pieces, and the box with the picture to guide me is lost. It has taken about 18 months to gather enough pieces to start fitting things together, and that’s not been easy without a guide or framework. Fiction writers can create a framework from the get-go. Biography and history writers have to get the pieces together first and determine if there is a story there. Sometimes, you can find the guide/frame to use in your digging around. I’d say most of the time, you have to create your own frame.

You can’t tell the story without both the pieces and the framework. Prior to taking this workshop, I was just working with the puzzle pieces and getting frustrated.

Using this storytelling model is already paying off. In addition to putting a structure on Emmett’s story, I found something new and interesting: I’ve discovered Emmett’s story includes TWO antagonists, and they are real SOBs, playing very subtly with, yet against, each other. It appears Emmett was not even aware of how they were connected until almost the end of his career — and by then, it was too late. I wouldn’t have seen this without this framing process. And — big surprise to me — the second antagonist was not who/what I expected!

I expect to do a lot of rearranging, streamlining, improving as new information comes available, and the writing begins. I feel confident enough to write most of the book now, but there are still information holes that I plan to fill over the next several months. I don’t expect a major adjustment to the story structure at this point…but who knows?

Perhaps Emmett’s scrapbooks may turn up and reveal…a third antagonist! 🙂

 

 

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