December 27, 2017 at 3:42 pm #346674
I’m trying to wrap my head around a very important part of story writing, but I can’t think of the term.
Firstly, I am writing a sci-fi/fantasy novel series with a multi-pov ensemble cast. To break my series down to a basic level, my world is a mix of ancient mythology, the mechanics of a comic book universe, and video game RPG characters forced to adventure. I have YEARS of world building, connecting backstories, and outlining the outcome of the entire series. When it comes to the storytelling, I ask myself, “what would I enjoy reading?”, and it’s something to do with superpowered people banding together to fight an opposition. But damn it, it’s boring at face value–without the same amount of effort put into the storytelling. I feel I’ve fallen in love with the idea of these characters/world for too long that I want to jam everyone into every scene. However, I’ve worked hard to conceptually outline chapters to prevent this, but I still feel scenes are rushed because the other characters aren’t there.
So my question is: I’ve gone back and forth on how I want my story to unravel. When I say “unravel”, I’m trying to figure out what path to go down: Shakespearean, Machiavellian, etc… What is this “path” called? I don’t think it’s “The Hero’s Journey” per se (I have that), nor Drama/Mystery (I have that too), but rather the manner events unfold and cascade into pools of realizations and questions; revealing the nature of the characters and their motives.
Anyway, here’s a braindump I wrote to realign myself with what’s important. It might have the key to what I’m looking for–maybe someone can point it out:
“You can come up with as many plot devices, twists, connections, characters, backstories, world building, exposition as you could possibly self-indulge in. But none of it means anything if there isn’t an emotional connection, flow of story, emersion, relatability, realism. You need to be able to feel the world. Breathe the air. You need to make sure you aren’t just “connecting the dots/connecting the plots”. The people needs to live–to feel like the world would go on without the reader being there.
The characters really need to be affected by events that happen. Their dreams need to be derailed. Their solutions need to dissolve and any bridge they thought they built, comes crashing down. It is in these events that show a character’s true self–building a true connection with the reader.”
December 27, 2017 at 6:02 pm #655183
Does it matter what the term is? You know what you want to do, right? So just write the story and don’t get hung up on terms/mechanics that readers won’t care about anyway. It’s a sure way to get bogged down and never finish.
December 27, 2017 at 6:57 pm #655184
*sigh, very true, that is typically my way of thinking. And thanks. However, in order for me to shape it, I need to understand it; and to understand it, I need to give it a name. I am aware that there is no formula. But for example, there is meaning and purpose behind “how” Hamlet unravels–I would like to know what that meaning and purpose is called. It’s like a dance with rhythm and a destination, but I don’t know the steps. Maybe I’m not explaining it well enough. It’s kind of a revelation I’m having that I can’t quite vocalize.
I suppose at the heart of good storytelling is showing characters who want something, but other characters/force of nature is getting in the way, and we get to see the outcome of how they react. I really don’t feel the question is answered though–I’d like more insight.
December 27, 2017 at 9:07 pm #655185
You might be referring to the story arc. You want the story to move and progress along a smooth curve, not have corners and too-sharp turns? That’s what I call it, anyway, if I understand you correctly.
December 27, 2017 at 10:35 pm #655186
Hmm closer, but maybe more like “the style of a story arc”. Sorry to use TV shows in comparison to a novel, but these all have similar styles of story arcs that branch out: The Sopranos, Game of Thrones (and the books), and Empire (basically Shakespear)–unlike a show Daredevil where the arc is more linear. It appears there are more “powers at hand” than meets the eye. A kind of clockwork, geared to surprise and entice the reader. Ugh, I’m doing a terrible job of explaining this.
I think my problem is I focus too hard on connecting the plot points and it makes all the scenes in between seem superficial. I figured I was missing some style points–whatever that may be.
December 28, 2017 at 9:20 pm #655187
> Hmm closer, but maybe more like “the style of a story arc”. Sorry
> to use TV shows in comparison to a novel, but these all have similar styles
> of story arcs that branch out: The Sopranos, Game of Thrones (and the
> books), and Empire (basically Shakespear)–unlike a show Daredevil where
> the arc is more linear. It appears there are more “powers at
> hand” than meets the eye. A kind of clockwork, geared to surprise and
> entice the reader. Ugh, I’m doing a terrible job of explaining this.
> I think my problem is I focus too hard on connecting the plot points and it
> makes all the scenes in between seem superficial. I figured I was missing
> some style points–whatever that may be.
I don’t know the term you’re looking for, but this breakdown of how the writers make you care about the characters in Game of Thrones has some excellent advice for giving your scenes more weight.
December 29, 2017 at 3:15 pm #655188
@updog, this video is a great reminder–thanks for posting. I’m aware of these mechanics and I’m actually proud of how I’ve applied this so far. I do need to give myself credit as I’m being overcritical of my writing. When I say superficial, I suppose I mean “more wisdom in the writing” or more finesse in the scenes. The rule of 3 purposely being broken is sort of it, but not quite. I’m aware of devices like that. I believe I’m looking for something more to do with character interaction and set up to make development that more heartwrenching.
I think the guy in this video below brushes up against it, but doesn’t call out what “it” is. He just tells the viewers they need to listen or they’ll miss the small things. @12:53 he says, “…always in Shakespear, in crucial scenes, when he wants us to listen, there is a listener on stage. And here it’s Lady Capulet.” I feel Shakespear and other writers always have a _______ in the scene–a handful of people and situations that are put there with a purpose to strike emotional values, resonating throughout the book or series, making the piece more human.
This is one of the many facets of the genius within Shakespear, and these are some of the writing components we all strive for to make good stories. I’m just trying to wrap my head around these “small things” as I feel there’s an unsaid understanding of them. I suppose I have to get to reading and researching. I’m still listening for clues.
December 29, 2017 at 3:34 pm #655189
It’s almost like a mastery of tropes. Knowing when and where to apply these people. Hmm…
April 26, 2018 at 12:28 pm #655190
“Storytelling” might be the right term to cover the description given. 🙂
On the other hand, when a known word or phrase seems inadequate to the task and no others come close, coining a new one might work.
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