Tuesday, 10 February 2015

Story Shapes - according to Chuck Wendig

Today, I'm posting a link to the latest post on Chuck Wendig's terrible minds blog.

Basically, it's about story shapes. It's written in typical Chuck style (which means language!), and I could never hope to paraphrase what he's written so I'll send you over to his site to read it for yourself. It's an incredibly good description of some methods you can use to build your own story shape and I know I shall be coming back to it frequently over the next few weeks as I start to work on Ani's story.

Er...yes... I know I started working on Ani's story a while back, but I have gone back to grass roots with it and started all over again. I wasn't happy with it, y'see. Couldn't find the right motivation for some of the characters and I'd stalled at the half-way point.

To get me going again, I re-read Les Edgerton's Hooked about openings, and tried to get to grips with Ani's story-worthy problem because what I had as an opening was a bit...boring, if I'm honest.
I also read Nicola Morgan's How to Write a Great Synopsis, which helped me to discover what the true heart of the story was.

As a result of reading both, the story has been simplified yet keeps many of the elements I'd written in before. And it actually has a story-worthy problem that wasn't what I first thought it was...

And now, I have Chuck's post as well.

I feel a story coming on... *scuttles off to grab a notebook and pen*


  1. I just wonder if sometimes we 'overthink' the whole story writing process with arc this and motivation that. Sure the characters need to have depth and we have to care, but this whole scientific dilemma / resolution stuff does my head in. With my current WIP I am trying to let it write itself. It's a kind of organic entity - so is a steaming pile of crap for that matter... Oh, I've just come over all philosophical.

    1. I think you're absolutely right, Abi, in the sense that overthinking can really knock the life out of a story. I get lost if I try to follow others' methods too closely.

      However, as a tool to spark an idea or a direction to take you in...or even a different way of seeing the twists and turns of story if, like me, you're not a plotter...I think these kind of studies are sometimes very useful. I tend to use what works for me and discard the rest. Chuck's post resonated with me because I'm much more of a bigger picture than detail person and his suggestions in this case are loose enough for me to take some of it on board without having to analyse what I'm doing too much.

      That said, the planning - and I use that term loosely - that I have done so far using different methods has cemented the story more firmly into my head before I begin that 'let it be written' phase... I might still end up with an organic entity as you described (!) but it'll be a start. ;)