From Idea to Story: Part 3

Here are Parts One and Parts Two of this series. I recommend you read them in order.

Let’s talk about story components and interlocking them, I wrote. That’s definitely the next step, I wrote.

That’s getting a little too technical and prescriptive for what I want this blog series to be, and more importantly, I don’t think it’s actually the next step as I think about our story so far: a sinking house on a disappearing island, girls abandoned in an asylum, forgotten, and with the option to get off the island but not all the girls want to leave. Some would choose the sea.

(Amusingly, I used that news article in Part One because it stuck with me, and by the end of writing Part Two, I can’t stop thinking about how much I want to write this story now. And now I have a title, from writing the last line of the previous paragraph. Some Choose The Sea. See? This is how you chase an idea. By asking questions. By listening to it. And we’ve done that together. Let’s continue!)

Let’s talk about the components of the story as the gears of the story.

Setting, premise, conflict, and characters interlock with each other, like gears, and these turn the story forward. These become plot.

If we look at this story we’re writing together, our setting is a sinking house, our premise is girls abandoned there and forgotten, and the conflict is to use the boat to leave the sinking house on the sinking island, or to stay. The plot of this story will depend heavily on what character I choose to narrate the story. If I choose a girl who wants to stay, the story ends with a girl who chooses the sea–unless that’s not how she sees it. If I choose a girl who wants to leave, then the story ends–where? Who knows? But she leaves behind her island-sisters, doesn’t she? So here, our external plot of “do I stay or do I go” drives the internal plot for each character of “who is with me when I go or who do I leave behind.”

If you pick a girl who wants to stay, but try to make it about the conflict of who is leaving, the spokes of your gears won’t line up and the story won’t move forward for you. It’s a thin line, but when we’re talking about story, “who is leaving” is a different question than “who is staying.”

Whenever you get stuck with a story, go back and break down your story into its elements. Look at your characters. What do they want? What’s the relationship to what they want and the conflict of your premise? Is that the right conflict? Is this character in the right story? What’s the distance between what your character wants and their current station in life? How can they achieve what they want by using your setting, your premise, and your conflict to their advantage? Does it backfire?

And we’re back to the questions, you see.

Whenever you’re stuck, you need to ask more questions.

 

Sorry for the delay! Been a busy two weeks. I’m back at it! 

 

 

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