Monday, April 10, 2017

Weekend Drama & Story Structuring

I've been working on The Long Summer Run this weekend. Saturday was the first time I was actually awake a whole day in a couple of weeks. I was able to do some planning here and there and Sunday I began to work on the structure and plot of the story. Not actual writing but some organization I've needed but didn't really understand how to fix until I started listening to a podcast called The Story Grid. It is based on the book by the same name and written by Shawn Coyne.

 On Saturday I cleaned, with the help of Sarah's mom. We're still good friends and she came and dusted, swept, and mopped - jobs that really cause me a lot of pain and fatigue. I rarely get through the whole house in one day. Sometimes I don't get through it in a month. I have a similar problem with putting away laundry. It is the bending motions of back and shoulders that do it.

The weekend was not without excitement. Becca was nearly finished with the floors and I was in the kitchen, putting away some things. I got my feet tangled in the vacuum cord and stepped in a bit of water on the floor. I was thrown off balance and since I was holding 10 lbs of oranges, there was no way to compensate. I did not bounce when I hit the floor but neither did I break. I did, however, feel it in ever inch of my body. Took several moments and two people to get me up. Mike had been working on the car and just as he came in I fell. So, between the two of them, they got me up and into a chair so we could determine the extent of the damage. Mostly bruises and by Sunday, a whole lot of stiffness and achiness.

I went to church on Sunday but left after the first service. I simply couldn't sit for another hour and a half. Everything was getting stiff and it was very painful. Getting up and down was difficult as my lower back, which had taken a licking the day before, was causing pain in my hips and legs. So, I came home, put the new recliner on the patio and carried out my computer. I stayed there all afternoon. I worked about two hours on the novel and I think it has helped me understand a few things. I knew that I had more to write but I couldn't figure out where some things went and how to get it organized.

Even though I've been writing stories for about 40 years, I didn't really understand story structure until recently. I think we inherently know the structure, at least I did. That's something I realized as I've been studying story structure for the last three months. Story structure seems to be mapped into our brains. That's my terminology.

I read The Power of Myth, by Joseph Campbell probably more than a year ago and based on that, I think that human beings are designed to tell stories and that story structure is probably just a part of us. However, I think it hasn't been clearly defined until Campbell's work. I could be wrong but I think his work is the first research of its kind to reveal that.

Anyway, since I've been studying it, three books later, I seem to be getting the idea. One book gave me a great explanation of the different types of story structure. Another one, Story Engineering, by Larry Brooks was so horrible at explaining it I couldn't get a quarter of the way through before I tossed it aside. Thank goodness I had checked it out of the library.

However, as I mentioned above, I stumbled on this podcast based on Shawn Coyne's book, The Story Grid and as I listened, and visited his website, something clicked. So, on Sunday, I sat down to look for some of the things he talked about and see if there were structured correctly. The story is a mess, as I knew, but one thing that began to show was I was very close in my structure to his example. Not in every instance but in some very important aspects.

I want to finish the basic outline (Scrivener helps with this) and get the whole story on the grid so I can clearly see where the fault lines are. They are many. This makes me feel much better about the story. If I can work on it every day, at least several days a week, I might have it done in a month. Of course, waking at 4 a.m. in terrible pain, as I did this morning, is not going to help matters. My hands are killing me as I type this but dictation is out of the question. I'm not waking the tiny blond beast down the hall this early. That would be as bad as the fire breathing dragon that woke me at 4 a.m.

I will stop now. I need another cup of Joe and prepare myself to face the beast in half an hour. Pray for me. She is not a morning person.

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