Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Story Structure? Um, I thought I knew ...

Big writing day today. I worked on a short story that, when I wrote it back in the day, I didn't have the skills to pull it off. I did a rewrite from memory, remembering only the good parts (in theory.) After I transcribe it and edit it until it's all clean except for the remaining bits of glitter that stick to it from the glitter editing soap I use, I'll hand it over for critiques.

I also spent some time trying to analyze "The Incredibles" for story components. Dark moments. Turns of event. Action rise and fall. False triumphs. Sub plots. Theme. Set up, hook, setting development, character introduction and development, what's at stake, and so on. I got all tuckered out after a short night and an early morning, so we didn't finish the movie but we got a good start. What I learned, fast, was that what had been clear in my mind, when presented scene by scene, became unclear and debatable. Novels and feature-length films, done right, have an interesting weave and scenes multitask, thematic elements leap between story lines, and foreshadowing as well as revealing the true nature and importance of certain characters is masked or subtle. One of the reasons I glommed onto "The Incredibles" is that I'd seen it so many times. Seeing it many times didn't help me as much as I'd thought it would. It was a humbling experience, and informative, and it helped me appreciate all over again the very fine writing that went into that movie.

I imagine as it all sinks in I'll re-envision writing yet again. Going back to a beginner state of mind can be daunting because I know I'm going to flail and make more mistakes. But beginner mind states of mind are when I learn the most the fastest. It can be exhilarating.

Once the beginning stages are done with, the rush is over and learners hit a plateau. Learn the lessons deeply takes a long time, well after the thrill is gone, and it'll seem like I'm getting nowhere. That'll take patience and perseverance. Learning deeply has its own rushes and epiphanies, but those are fewer and far between. The commitment to learning is the only thing that gets me through at times. That and I just can't seem to stop writing.

In the meantime, I get to play with story structure, something I've used by instinct but never examined. I thought I knew so much. Ha!

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