Monday, September 28, 2015

Structuring a Story by Connie Vines

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As many of the readers know, I write in multiple genres of fiction as well as nonfiction.  Therefore, it only goes to reason I have attended workshops, conferences, enrolled in extensions classes, and networked with other authors to discuss the topic of story structure.

So many ideas, so many strong opinions, but no fail-proof map to success.  What I have discovered is that many authors (Note: my personal findings only), agree that there are thirteen basic plots.

The following are common plot motivations that have appeared in written literature for centuries.  Of course, more than one of these plot motivators may exist side-by-side, affecting the story.  Take your story idea, add one or more of these motivators to it, and, so I’ve been assured, you’ll have a plot and a storyline.

  •  Catastrophe  
  • Vengeance
  • Love and Hate 
  • Persecution
  • The Chase  
  • The Quest
  • Grief and Loss  
  • Rivalry
  • Rebellion         
  • Betrayal
  • Survival  
  • Ambition
  • Self-Sacrifice

So, is this true in my own novels and fiction stories?  I have three books published at Books We Love, Ltd., as well as an anthology featuring five stories to be released this fall.  Let’s see if this is programed into a writer’s psyche, or if it is a learned skill. 

With my Rodeo Romance, Book 1, “Lynx”.  I have added Grief and Loss into my basic storyline for my heroine.  While my hero deals with Ambition, and one other (I don’t wish to give away too much of the story).

In Rodeo Romance, Book 2, “Brede”, Survival, Vengeance, are added to my romantic suspense novel.

“Here Today, Zombie Tomorrow”, obviously, deals with Catastrophe and Survival (with a light-touch).

Not the result I was expecting. Why?  Because, if you’ve been following my blog posts, you are aware that I follow Joseph Campbell’s “A Hero’s Journey” when plotting my stories.   Joseph Campbell based his teachings/writing on the power of the ancient myth. 

Of course, there is more to a story than just a great plot!  So, using the accepted rule of thirteen, let us progress to adding another layer or two to our story line.

 These added layers to the story do not appear to be genre specific, though some are more commonly used in romance than, say, mainstream fiction.

  •      Authority        
  •     Conspiracy
  • Criminal Action/Murder 
  • Deception
  • Honor/Dishonor        
  •      Making Amends
  • Poverty/Wealth  
  •      Rescue
  • Mistaken Identity         
  •      Searching
  • Suspicion                 
  •      Suicide
  •      Misplaced Affection (or unnatural if it is a human and supernatural being)

I believe, for a story to be an excellent story, which of course, is every author’s goal. These plot motivators with the added layers to drive the characters in the story, result in the depth (landscape) and richness (emotion) we all crave in a good story.  

Readers, do you agree that all the stories you’ve read and loved these plot lines and motivators?
I admit was able to spot many of these plot lines and layers in the works of Homer, Shakespeare, and may of the Classic Greek Myths.

What do you think?  Are there certain plot lines that appeal to you more than others?
Thank you for stopping by today.

I hope to see you here next month.

Connie Vines