Nail your story

One of the beauties of this book are the examples it gives. It is through examples of popular fiction that this book comes alive – The Hunger Games, Harry Potter, The Vampire Diaries, even films like The Martian and TV series like Arrow.

The book refers to story structure in 3 or 4 parts:

  • The beginning or first incident.
  • What the character decides to do in reaction to this incident?
  • The reversal of fortune.
  • All or nothing, cards on the table.
  • The transformation or conclusion.

The author suggests such a structure can be part of a plan or intuitive. Personally I think seeing it spelt out in black white gives any new or budding author greater awareness of what they are creating even if they don’t follow the framework.

There is also a section on concept, premise, theme and genre.

  • Concept is the hook of your story. It can usually be phrased as a “What if?” question.
  • The premise points to a major conflict and usually starts with a specific, named character.
  • The easiest way to go from concept and premise to theme is to ask, what does my main character represent?
  • Genre represents the fictional category – romance, thriller, YA etc.

Character arcs are the most commonly talked about devices and relate to the progress of a character throughout the book. This can be from a child to an adult, or a more spiritual and enlightened path. The author also talks about groups of characters and how they act as a group. Their symbols and motifs, shared beliefs – such as the different houses in Harry Potter.

It is rare that I find a book which moves me so far forward in terms of my writing. Usually progress is incremental, someone pointing out a mistake which makes me more aware of what I am doing wrong.

Not everyone can afford expensive creative writing courses or has the luxury of going to university full time, that is why reviews are so important. They give you an insight into the good and the bad.

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