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Johne

The 5 Essential Story Ingredients

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https://www.writersdigest.com/online-editor/the-5-essential-story-ingredients

 

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what is a story?

Centuries ago, Aristotle noted in his book Poetics that while a story does have a beginning, a middle and an ending, the beginning is not simply the first event in a series of three, but rather the emotionally engaging originating event. The middle is the natural and causally related consequence, and the end is the inevitable conclusive event.

In other words, stories have an origination, an escalation of conflict, and a resolution.

Of course, stories also need a vulnerable character, a setting that’s integral to the narrative, meaningful choices that determine the outcome of the story, and reader empathy. But at its most basic level, a story is a transformation unveiled—either the transformation of a situation or, most commonly, the transformation of a character.

Simply put, you do not have a story until something goes wrong.

At its heart, a story is about a person dealing with tension, and tension is created by unfulfilled desire. Without forces of antagonism, without setbacks, without a crisis event that initiates the action, you have no story. The secret, then, to writing a story that draws readers in and keeps them turning pages is not to make more and more things happen to a character, and especially not to follow some preordained plot formula or novel-writing template. Instead, the key to writing better stories is to focus on creating more and more tension as your story unfolds.

Understanding the fundamentals at the heart of all good stories will help you tell your own stories better—and sell more of them, too. Imagine you’re baking a cake. You mix together certain ingredients in a specific order and end up with a product that is uniquely different than any individual ingredient. In the process of mixing and then baking the cake, these ingredients are transformed into something delicious.

That’s what you’re trying to do when you bake up a story.

 

 

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As I understand The Story Grid, every scene has its own narrative structure. A scene that doesn't change the overall situation doesn't have a purpose and is a candidate for the scrap heap. Or a rewrite!

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48 minutes ago, EClayRowe said:

A scene that doesn't change the overall situation doesn't have a purpose and is a candidate for the scrap heap.

 

Yes - the theory is that every scene should turn on either an action or a revelation, thus serving as the narrative drive which propels the story forward.

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That's interesting, Johne.

2 hours ago, Johne said:

At its heart, a story is about a person dealing with tension, and tension is created by unfulfilled desire.

 

This is what makes the most sense to me.

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17 hours ago, Johne said:

Imagine you’re baking a cake. You mix together certain ingredients in a specific order and end up with a product that is uniquely different than any individual ingredient.

 

This is a good analogy. And cake bakers use different techniques with the same recipe. Some measure, others don't. Some experiment, others don't. Some taste as they go, others don't. Tasting as they go is the editing that authors do.

 

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I also like what has been said about the importance of a scene changing something. I am returning to a novel I put aside two years ago to finish where I left off. However, I am now a different person (if only slightly) and the course I had outlined for the remaining chapters no longer feels right.

 

The next phase of my story is an elaborate robbery which in my original outline is heavy on plot, but weak on character development. Now I am rethinking how to tinker with the flow of events so that it taxes not just the characters' courage and ingenuity but also transforms them at a deeper level. I am glad I took a break from writing it, because otherwise I would have kept plunging ahead. Part of the story is a romance, and the couple is the core of a team that is trying to prevent the robbery. I realized that the only way to really ratchet up the tension in the story is to shatter their romance just hours before the robbery and have the fallout wreck all their plans. Back to the drawing board. Every scene will count.

 

Paul

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20 hours ago, EClayRowe said:

As I understand The Story Grid, every scene has its own narrative structure. A scene that doesn't change the overall situation doesn't have a purpose and is a candidate for the scrap heap. Or a rewrite!

But sometimes the thing that changed there isn't revealed until later.

 

One of my CP's thought I had a lovely scene of my characters taking some time to have fun when they found a skateboard park. And, true. That is what happened.

 

However, had they never done that then the rest of the story wouldn't have happened. (Climax and ending.)

 

I have made the same suggestion to other writers, but only after reading the whole thing and figuring out it wasn't needed.

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3 hours ago, carolinamtne said:

 

This is a good analogy. And cake bakers use different techniques with the same recipe. Some measure, others don't. Some experiment, others don't. Some taste as they go, others don't. Tasting as they go is the editing that authors do.

 

My last novel, I didn't taste until the end. This novel I'm tasting as I go. It was easier to wait, however, it feels like my last baking session was at sea level, and this one is in the Alps. (Leavens reacts differently depending on altitudes.) o_O

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On ‎8‎/‎21‎/‎2019 at 3:27 PM, Johne said:

The secret, then, to writing a story that draws readers in and keeps them turning pages is not to make more and more things happen to a character, and especially not to follow some preordained plot formula or novel-writing template. Instead, the key to writing better stories is to focus on creating more and more tension as your story unfolds.

 

Yep- I read this again, and boy does it make sense!

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