“I see structure…”

Okay, not quite the impact of M Night Shyamalan’s “I see dead people” (Sixth Sense), but my life is a bit tamer than that, admittedly. :)

But do you remember when I posted about ‘leveling up’ in your skills, just like a computer game (here). You know what? I think I might have just done it.

I’ve been writing a couple of short stories, polishing up some older ones and doing a new one. And what struck me was something interesting. I now see structure. It’s hard to describe exactly what that means. Before, I’d look at the story and see words, dialogue, sentences, all the little pieces that added up to a story. But not in the context of the building blocks of reader experience. Not with a sense of purpose for each paragraph, the ability to see why those pieces were there at that time.

Some of this may come with time and distance, looking at an older more story more clinically, but I don’t think that that’s all of it. I now tend to think of stories in terms of blocks of scenes, and how they might impact the reader’s experience in their order and purpose. I think that this is a critical advancement in moving the story telling to the next level (see being ‘god of your story’, as per here).

Now I look at work I’ve written and have a sense for what each paragraph is intending to do, and what lines are extraneous and can be cut, or shifted, or… whatever.

I see structure. This explanation may not help you at all (I am sure that I saw this type of post well before I actually felt this way).

But it makes me happy. 😀

Stepping Stones to Greatness. And the Big Splash.

When I was a kid, we had a stream in the field behind our house, where we would creep around when the cows weren’t let out (watching our footsteps!) and occasionally we would cross the stream. What you realize is that rocks just under or over the water, wet and dark, can be slippery. You need to be careful where you step (especially when it comes to avoiding cow deposits, but that’s a different post…)

In writing, the first chapter is your first few steps out into that stream. To get a reader to keep turning the first pages, whether agent or book buyer, you need an intriguing first line, an intriguing scene question that drags them at least a few more paragraphs in, a character doing something interesting, wanting something with some emphasis, and having a conflict to their achieving it. You want to hint at the main character’s personality, you want to promise to the reader the tone and style of your story, you want the reader to keep reading. Desperately.

And it’s not always easy, especially as not every person is really our target audience. Which makes it only that more imperative that we don’t lose those who are.

You are standing on the side of the stream, one foot outstretched, swaying, half-submerged rocks all around. You can wander any direction you want, but not all of those rocks lead to the other side of the stream. Some leave you sitting waist deep in frigid water, wondering how all those darn frogs make it look so easy.

(I think I just called published authors frogs. He he. Done in love…)

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Work remains challenging, but slowly inching along on my writing and even (fractionally) my art. I’ve done a fun Sherlock Holmes fantasy short story (3k words-ish) that was for an anthology call. Likely low chance of making it in, but the story got some good feedback on OWW, and I enjoyed it considerably. And I’m trying to keep forward progress on my adult fantasy major edit. I’ve done all the editing, chopping, and reworking. So now I’m at the rewriting stage, which is a a bit daunting, as I know that this will be over 100,000 words with the new POVs I’ve put in. I like this story and want to finish it, but it is not a small task. Oh well. :) I should get it done before the kids get to university. Or if I get laid off, it might go faster! :) Kidding. Kind of. Work is still crazy and some days the life of a writer does beckon. But we all have good days and bad days, so I’m sure things will get better…

Happy Canada Day / Fourth of July weekend! Best.

Oh, nearly forgot, the image here is a close crop of an old image I’ve shown on the site before, and which I think is in the gallery, of a woman near a pool. A mood experiment at the time…