Tuesday, April 18, 2023

3T Writing Tidbit - story structure part IV

I've been reviewing story structure lately. Despite what the pundits say, there's more than one way to tell a story! You have your 3-17 step hero's journey, your 5 plot-point, your 3 act, your 2 step scene/sequel. Let's start on the far end and work our way in.

Last month we did the 3 act. Let's do scene/sequel today. 

This structure was most famously articulated by Dwight V. Swain in Techniques of the Selling Writer. It has two parts, the scene and the sequel.

A scene is a unit of conflict. It is broken down into 3 parts, Goal, Conflict, Resolution. The resolution can be: the protagonist attains their goal; the protag does not get their goal; the protag doesn't get their goal because of a disaster.

That one's my favorite, lol.

The special sauce with this particular structure is the sequel. It explicitly adds in the tendons and muscles that make the skeleton of the plot work. 

The sequel links two scenes in this way: the protag reflects on what happened in the first scene and translate that into a goal for the next scene. In reflecting, of course they're going to go through all the emotional upheaval that might have been missed in the frenzy of the scene! So a sequel is also used to control the pace of the story.

Published since 2009, over the years I've accumulated various items of writing wisdom. The Third Tuesday Writing Tidbit showcases these items in no particular order. Click here to see all 3T Tidbits


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