Sunday, October 27, 2013

The Story Skeleton

(Like the last post, this is one of the lessons I've written up for my writing class.  I know I've already discussed this Here but this is different in some ways.  I have included that week's worksheet.)

So now that everyone has an idea as to what you’re going to write, today we’re going to start plotting out your short story and getting a rough idea of all the events of the story.

Some writers don’t like to outline their stories, and rather wing the entire story based off of one idea or spark of inspiration.  They’re called seat-of-the-pants writings.  For my first novel, The Traitors Tale, I wrote it entirely seat-of-the-pants.  Looking back, I know that, for me, was a mistake.  I had to take out entire chapters because they just didn’t fit with the story.

Now, this is purely my own style, there are many writers out there who use this method, but for this club we’re going to use the plotting way for two reasons.

One, it is much more organized, especially for beginning writers, because we need guidance when we’re starting out on just about everything.

And two, planning out the story saves a lot of time because you don’t have to go over it and edit so much.

So for this club we’re going to use the plotting method.  It’s fairly simple, you just need to fill out a form of five basic questions for the plot.  The Inciting Incident, which is what starts off the adventure and goes beyond normal days, and then there’s the Rising Action, which is the build up after the Inciting Incident to the third element of plot, the Climax.  Everything up until the Climax is a foreshadowing and stage basis.  The Rising Action is where the reader and the character connect.  If the reader understands the character like a friend, they’ll be dying to find out if the character is alright after the climax.  The Rising Action is also where the struggle escalates for whatever prize the end may hold.  It’s also where the stakes increase right up until the Climax, which is what keeps readers reading.

Why?  Because the reader knows the character, they care about him or her, even though they’re fake.

After the Climax, everything wraps up quickly in the Falling Action and Conclusion.  The Falling Action is basically any remaining action that precedes the Climax, while the Conclusion is in essence, “And They Lived Happily Ever After.”

For instance, if any of you have read the Lord of the Rings, you know that the final battle in Morder is the Climax, the moment when Frodo is at the edge of Mount Doom.  The Falling Action is just after this when they return to the Shire.  There they find Saruman had taken it over.

That conflict, after the Climax, is the Falling Action.  The Conclusion then, would be Frodo, Bilbo, and the others going off into the west.  The happy ending.

If you haven’t read or watched the Lord of the Rings, that was probably really boring.

Many stories actually leave out the Falling Action for the most part, so you don’t necessarily have to have this in your story.

Each element of the plot has to change the hero of the story, be it internally or externally.


What unusual thing makes the day your story begins different?  (This is the Inciting Incident).

What action goes on during the Rising Action?  What changes the hero in that action? (Try to think more than just physicals - maybe he (or she) is braver now that he or she found courage within, or maybe he’s come to realize something in himself he need to change.)

What two forces clash during the Climax?  (This doesn’t have to be a battle, just a clash of morals or a struggle.  For instance, a boy could be trying to rescue his lost dog, but then find that another boy had found the dog before him and claimed it, now he must prove that the dog is his.)

If you have a Falling Action Element after the Climax, what makes this important to the story?  Does it fulfil what the hero has learned or how he has changed over the course of the story?

What wraps everything up and satisfies the reader?  Is it more than just the externals?  Has your hero changed?

Over the course of your short story, how does your hero change?  (Does he go from a resentful man to forgiving one?  Does a shy girl go from a pushover to someone who can stand up for herself?  These are just examples.)


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