Thursday, January 12, 2006

Confused About Story Structure or Plot? Have I got a book for you!

Over at her curiously named blog--Kittens Come From Eggs--Dineen Miller has posted a two-part "chat" with Victoria Lynn Schmidt, the author of a couple of helpful books for writers.

You might even own one of them already.


Well, you may want to hurry to pick up STORY STRUCTURE ARCHITECT. (The little writing on the cover explains it as, "a writer's guide to building dramatic situations and compelling characters." We all wanna do that, right?)

I like this book. The design is aesthetically pleasing to me (nice blues and grays), and it's got artistic flourishes that give it a "blueprint-ey" look. The lay-out is just delicious. I like when books are more than just some plain font on white, don't you?

But the best part for those of us who get stumped sometimes during plotting sessions or get confused figuring out what the heck writing folks mean by "story structure." This book simplifies the matter and gently instructs. Any doofus could get the drift.

And, well, if you read my blog, you are NOT a doofus.

Ms. Schmidt covers many types of plots. You'll be familiar with them if you've read Polti on the 36 plots (dramatic situations). She, however, expands on Polti's work. There are a lot of choices for you to use in assembling your story:

5 dramatic throughlines
6 conflicts
21 genres
11 master structures
55 dramatic situations

She uses graphs that show how action rises and falls for each structure, even. Is that cool or what?

If you like the hero's journey, she covers that as well as a feminine hero's journey, which is a bit different.

The best part is that after you've figured out where your novel falls, you don't have to reference the whole book, searching for pages. You just mark the few spots that apply to your particular work (conflict, genre,structure,situations). I use paper clips, colored ones. (Although, I shamelessly dog-eared the page on the hero's journey.)

I actually read this book AFTER I did most of the broad plotting of a fantasy novel, and my plotting coincided very well with one of her structures (a heroic journey). But the breakdown she includes, the steps of each major plot category, showed me something I needed to add and emphasize. That alone, I think, was worth the book.

Still, it's an adorable, eye-friendly reference. And fun to read. AND USEFUL. She really does help you become the architect of your own novel.

*Recommended for your writing reference shelf (or, in my case, bookcase).

You may want to hurry to get a copy, and, hey, I'm even happy to give you a link:


Camy Tang said...

I got that book, too! Can't wait to read it. I'm reading a couple books on writing discipline right now, though. Those are more important at the moment.

Dineen A. Miller said...

Hey Mir,
I just got that book last week. Can't wait to start it. Thanks for mentioning the interview too!

Mirtika said...

Camy, what are the titles of your "writing discipline" books. I sure need them.

Heather said...

Hey Mirtika - thought I'd visit you at your blog. LOL!

So, where are you in the writing process? Anything compleated? quiered? Agented? Sold?

I'm editing curently and I have to tell you - I HATE EDITING.

Hopefully I can get my act together and start trying to find an agent!

April said...

Thanks for sharing about the book. I've gotta pick it up. Sounds great!

Mike Duran said...

Thanks for the info, Mir. I'll be checking out Dineen's site and the book.

Mirtika said...

Heather, hey girl.

I haven't completed a novel, I haven't queried. I got a request years ago and never followed through. This is the year I get the job done! (I'm psyched.)

I have submitted stories. And I want to write a screenplay.

Good luck with the agent search. I know you'll do fine with the editing. Call me greedy, but I wanna see all my pals in print.