Tuesday, March 11, 2014

RMIT YA Teaching - Week Three

On Structure: the not-so secret-actually-all-over-the-internet-magical-formulas that will help you write your novel*

It is only week three (four) and I already have too many pieces of paper floating around. Last week we talked structure. I avoided The Hero's Journey and instead shared my favourite paradigms - links to the following.

The Syd Field Three Act Paradigm (heavily cribbed from Aristotle)
Link to The Paradigm worksheet here

The Blake Snyder 'Save the Cat' 'formula' -
Blake Snyder website

In this article author Jessica Brody adapts the formula to her YA novel

I did a breakdown of my book Everything Beautiful according to the formula and found that *most* of the beats were covered - but then there are subplots and those babies are hard to track.

We looked at the 8 Point Arc - from Nigel Watts' "Write a Novel and Getting it Published"

A link to the 8 points here

"The story should unfold as life unfolds: relentlessly, implacably and plausibly."

My favourite visual outlining breakdown is here:

From JohannaHarness.com

And my other favourite, cribbed from Christopher Booker's The Seven Basic Plots - Why we Tell Stories  is "Voyage & Return", a nice breakdown from TV Tropes here.

All of this structure stuff is maybe only helpful when you actually have a chunk of work.  My favourite summary comes from Fiona Wood, who is a smart plotting lady. She said, and I'm paraphrasing:

"Beginning, middle, end = Set it up, mess it up, fix it up." 

What else? We read this piece by Vicki Wakefield on how she approached structure in Friday Brown.
"I asked of Friday, ‘How did you get here?’ instead of, ‘Where are you going?’"

We also read a chapter from Adam Rapp's The Children and the Wolves, which is interesting structurally because of where it sits within the novel, and is a fascinating portrait of a sociopathic character besides.

*DISCLAIMER: I am not so sure they help. Sometimes they can be fun though. 

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