Presentation on theme: "Structure of Stories Creative Writing, Ms. Manfra."— Presentation transcript:
Structure of Stories Creative Writing, Ms. Manfra
Connections between genres Narrative: a story being told Memoir: a story told about ourselves Short story/novel: a fictional story being told in prose Scripts: a story told in a script form, for stage or screen
Structure Conscious, purposeful arrangement Some writers naturally understand flow Some writers need to learn the basics of flow Structure creates a framework for your story, but allows for creativity
Elements of a Story’s Structure Bits Beats Scenes Sequences Structure combines these elements to form an engaging story
Bits Small images or moments Show who people in a piece are Show what people are doing
Bits 1.Bits reveal something about a character But I'd like the pie heated and I don't want the ice cream on top, I want it on the side, and I'd like strawberry instead of vanilla, if you have it. If not, then no ice cream, just whipped cream, but only if it's real; if it's out of the can then nothing. Scene from When Harry Met Sally
Bits 2. Bits establish relationships In Of Mice and Men, the opening bits demonstrate the relationship between Lennie and George
Bits 3. Bits move the plot forward In Star Wars, Luke Skywalker finally hears a mysterious message he’s been wondering about
Bits 4. Bits serve as backstory to give the story depth ▫One or two sentence flashes into past actions, images from the past ▫Reveal background on the character or situation Hey, remember that time when…
Using Bits Brief, active, make a single point Distinguish bits from summary ▫“They fought in the kitchen” is summary ▫“When he turned, she wound back and struck him across the side of the head. Dazed, he stepped back and muttered unintelligibly, knocking over a pile of dirty pots she’d left on the counter.”
Using Bits Summary doesn’t allow quick, efficient establishment of relationships Overuse of summary is seen as immature Bits add depth and layers Bits reflect human behavior—shaded, complex, nuanced Bits are micro-movies
Using Bits Lean towards bits more than summary “Bits are tiny images, the cells of the body of your work”
Beats Beat: a unit of action or thought in a story Beats are bits with plot implications Beats use cause and effect ▫A megalomaniac threatens to take over the world, so… ▫A groom is left at the altar by the bride, so… ▫After you slay the dragon, you…
Beats Beats use implications, stakes, and results The direction of the story changes Use emotional turning points Every story has a minimum of 3 beats: a beginning, middle, and end
Scenes Beats combine to make scenes A fixed location A contiguous span of time When you change location, you change scenes When you change the time, but not the location, you change scenes
Sample Beats in a Scene 2 PM, Sally’s Salon Sally’s customer Bob becomes angry because she dyed his hair green. Bob’s wife is flirting with Sally’s son. Sally refuses to refund Bob. Bob and his wife storm out, as Bob screams, “I’ll ruin your business!”
Scenes Scenes have four features: 1.Problem. 2.Polarity. 3.Time Limitations. 4.Space Limitations.
Scenes: Problem Conflict drives scenes, gives them shape and dramatic interest The main character needs a clear problem There needs to be a worthy “opponent”
Scenes: Polarity The scene needs an emotional direction: better? Worse? What is the impact of the solution? What is the energy of the scene? If nothing changes, the scene is static; what is its purpose then?
Scenes: Time Limitations Pressure from time can make a stronger scene ▫The boss is coming ▫The rent is due ▫You’re late getting home As the writer, be conscious of the time used in the scene—when it begins, and when it ends
Scene: Space Limitations Have a specific location with boundaries Imagine the setting in detail before you write At some point, introduce the reader to this concrete world
Try It In a story you have read (consider a memoir excerpt): Outline the beats in the sequence Identify 2-3 bits used and state their purpose.