Thursday, July 05, 2012

Brick by Brick: Introduction




This will be the first post of many. I want to provide something substantive on my blog. If not every day for forever, for the next week or two. I want something in this space people can come back to or discover. In all honesty I've been blogging close to seven years and I think I've covered every subject that can be covered.
When I think about what I can blog about I draw a complete blank. Reviewing is a huge under-taking and it's not really my thing. But, I can talk you to death about writing books. (And that's probably not very interesting to readers. Sorry! I promise when I get more savvy there'll be something here for you too.)
Anyway, this is what my blog will be for however long it takes to revamp a workshop I did long, long ago and post it online. These posts will be epically long, but I'm normally long-winded. Just ask anyone who knows me.
I digress...I liked the quote from Seabisquit that quotes Shakespeare. Hence the name of the workshop. Plus, this workshop, and consequently these blog posts, are about structure. Small units that create a whole. You can build a city brick by brick. You can write a book doing the same, except the bricks are metaphorical.
So... let's start with my favorite quote from Stephen King. In regards to writing a novel he says, “...one word in front of the other.” I've taken this concept and used it to write my novels. No matter the size of the novel it's just more manageable in small parts. Not to mention much easier to revise, especially when you don't know where to start or where the problem is.
Yet, over the years as I've studied craft I've learned that structure is the root of every story I've read or written. I've heard it's the bones of the story. Structure is something you can hang your story on. I've also learned it can be frustrating to understand the different types of structure. Not to mention, understanding the concepts enough to use them.
I'm sure you've heard of the Hero's Journey, The Snowflake Method, and even Scene and Sequel. All structure. (If you haven't that's okay I've got definitions coming.) The important thing for you to understand now is that structure is like any other writing tool. It's something you can fall back on when all else fails. I will say there is no surefire way to write or revise a novel. There is only your way.
In the end it's only what works for you. That's the wonderful part about the journey of writing. You get to explore many ways until one settles over you and you know that's it, that's my way. Here's my way. (Do know this may change. Again and again and again.)
Some definitions to keep in mind:
Protagonist:
The good guy. Also, they're the person standing in the way of what the antagonist wants.
Antagonist:
The bad guy. The person standing in the way of what the protagonist wants.
Do note that despite the definition of antagonist I do not include an evil laugh.
Scene:
Has a beginning, middle and end. It moves the plot forward. It has a protagonist and antagonist. It’s also a small portion of the book as a whole, and it better have a purpose.
Four Turning Points:
It's an event or moment in which the character changes and that changes their path. It can be big or small. Real Life Example: Getting locked out of your car and from that moment on you carry a spare.
Three Act Structure: 
A larger portion of a novel that consists of both scenes and turning points. The first act is usually the set up of the story. The second act is the dreaded middle and the longest of all the acts. The last act includes the black moment and resolution of the story.
Overall goal:
In regards to the main character it means what they truly and deeply want. In regards to you, the writer, it means what the character truly and deeply needs.
*****
For an introduction I think this is more than enough to make your head explode. Next is the beginning. Just as long, probably longer. Book mark or whatever.
I'm more than open to questions or outright disagreement. Do so in the comments.

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