Friday, June 14, 2013

Every Memoir Has at Least Two Story Lines

First, if you are not interested in linking up your stories this week and if you don't have another idea to write on, feel free to pop on over to Share a Pair of Stories for a straight-up lifestory writing prompt.

Okay, if you are here to link up your stories, let's review our progress so far.
  1. We found the theme (or themes) that seems central or recurs often in our stories.
  2. We discovered which other genre's characteristics our story shares.
Today, we will be taking the combination of 1 and 2 and using them to discern the first of the two major story lines our stories follow.  It sounds confusing, but really it is simple.  Your story has:
  1. A literal story.
  2. An inner story.
 The literal story is what your character is physically doing throughout your stories.  Knowing what your genre is will help you define your literal story.  If your story is a(n):
  • Bildungsroman or Coming of Age story, then you will have:
    •  a period of childhood.  
    • markers moving you toward adulthood 
    • obstacles that stand in your way, all of which should arm you with skills you will need as an adult
    • a defining moment that marks you as an adult inside
    • a return to your family/home/other place where you are recognized as the adult you have now become
  • Adventure, then you will have:
    • A moment of decision in which you decide to take your adventure
    • A moment of setting out or definitively beginning.
    • A series of milestones which mark your progress
    • Obstacles which stand in your way
    • A defining moment or achievement that marks success or failure
    • A return to the beginning in which your accomplishment is acknowledged (This last step is sometimes skipped but is usually there.)
  • Mystery, then you will have:
    • Moments before the "crime"--a time when the balance has not been upset
    • A decision to begin investigating
    • A series of quandaries, some yielding good information, some not
    • At least one misleading piece of information
    • A clue that ties it all together
    • The solving of the mystery
    • Some semblance of a return to order
  • Romance, then you will have:
    • The moment of absence--when the main character recognizes a whole in his/her life
    • The entrance of the object of affection--this need not be a love interest, per se
    • A series of encounters or scenes in which the object of affection is considered
    • A moment when it becomes clear that you both care for one another
    • A series of obstacles that stand in the way of togetherness
    • The moment when these obstacles are resolved. 
  • Thriller/Horror, then you will have:
    • An average or weak hero who begins feeling average
    • A moment in which the hero is made (and feels very obviously vulnerable)
    • A series of surprising moments which may wound, but do not kill, our hero and all of which convince the reader that the danger is very real
    • A long rising action and a climax very close to the end
    • Very little resolution.  The thriller is about danger and the absence of danger and not much contemplation after the fact (there are some thrillers that involve lots of contemplation, but they are the classics and not the run of the mill thriller). 
  • Historical Fiction, then you will have:
    • A moment of beginning, grand exposition in which the stage is set
    • Your story will incorporate one of the other threads listed above but with this difference:  every action is correlated to the time period.  In other words, the individual does not function solely as an individual but as a function of an individual in time.
    •  As the story ends, it does not feel it is ending.  It should segue into the feeling that life goes on/history is still being written.
Your job now is to find the type of story your literal story is and match its plot points to the stories you already have written.  Find which stories you have and which ones you need to write.

Here's an example.  In my backwards devotional, I will essentially be telling a two-fold romance--one between myself and my children and one between me and God.  So I would take the plot points and fill them in:
  • The moment of absence--wanting children--wondering where God is
  • The entrance of the object of affection--childbirth--??  Maybe this needs to be written
  • A series of encounters or scenes in which the object of affection is considered
    • This will be a series of stories in which I discover God through parenting
  • A moment when it becomes clear that you both care for one another
    • Needs to be written--Good things verse?  
  • A series of obstacles that stand in the way of togetherness
    • Lots of these--learning issues (seeing and never perceiving), inability to obey (we all like sheep...)
  • The moment when these obstacles are resolved--big one resolving a fight (and a child shall lead them)
 Obviously, I haven't included everything, but I would guess that you want a list of twenty to thirty stories up there.  Once you have completed this step, identify your climax (the most exciting part or your turning point) and try to write it.  WARNING!!!  It can be very emotionally difficult to write a climax.  If it's too much, write as close to the scene as you can.  So if your climax is a car accident and you can't bring yourself to write about it, write about planning the trip or write about the ambulance ride afterward.

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