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Formula . . . The Bones of Your Story

Friday, 2 July 2010  |  Posted by Brenda Drake

Okay, well, coffee will never be the same again *shudders*. This morning’s coffee is Starbuck’s skinny, sugar free, caramel latte. I might as well be sipping air, in my opinion (can you say diet–I wish I didn’t have to). Anyway, my husband is always mocking the movies us girls watch. He ‘ll say stuff like it’s a classic RomCom or Thriller–always the same formula. Of course, this  makes me send hate-eyes his way and say, “It’s not about the formula, it’s about the journey.”

Really, every story fits into a formula. We’ve been telling stories since prehistoric men drew them on their cave walls. All novels, whether fantasy or thrillers, follow the same basic structure. They all have an arc–beginning, middle, and end–where the characters must travel across the plot to arrive at the resolution of the story. It’s the author’s life experiences that infuse the story with a unique flare.

What makes a story  worth traveling across the three hundred plus pages to that resolution? The flesh of the story. That’s the characters, the setting, and the author’s voice that gives the story a different feel. When I read a novel and fall in love with the voice of the author and the characters she’s created, I’m hooked to the end.

So, when writing your rough draft, forget about the plot and write from the heart. You’ll be surprised where your story will go. We have read stories in  books and seen them play across the big screen our entire lives and our brains already know how to structure a story.  It is during revisions that we can fix all the plot holes and technical stuff. Writing from the hip can uncover raw emotions you never knew were there.

That’s it. Slurp! Yuck! *shudders again*

Filed: Misc

  • LOL! LowCal is definitely an acquired taste. Sympathies from one who doesn’t dare go back the the real thing.

    I tend to write my outlines the way you write first drafts. I put all my madness and joy into the outline, then work to make the story come alive in the novel. I’m one of those people who needs a road map just to get across town. 😉

  • Brenda Drake says:

    A road map? How funny. I know what you mean, right? If I could get away with it, I’d use my GPS but my husband and boys would tear me up for that.

  • granny1947 says:

    Very interesting post.I always thought one had to have the plot all figured out.Have always wanted to write…it is on my wish list.
    Thank you to the Twolisas for pointing me in your direction.

  • Brenda Drake says:

    Hi Granny,

    Thanks for visiting. I’ve always kind of written from the seat of my pants. I usually get a scene idea and then start writing. Characters and plot just keep popping up after that. I don’t know what will happen if I ever mapped it out first.

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