Sunday, April 12, 2015



Without structure you have no story. Structure in story must include a character in a situation with a problem who tries over and over again to solve that problem but fails again and again and then, at the climax of the story, makes a final last-ditch-effort attempt and proves himself or herself. Within this framework, you have plot or story arc and character arc.

Joseph Campbell's HERO'S JOURNEY contains the best story structure formula and is used by novelists and screenwriters.

1. The hero is confronted with a challenge,
2. rejects it,
3. but then is forced (or allowed) to accept it.
4. He travels on the road of trials,
5. gathering powers and allies, and
6. confronts evil—only to be defeated.
7. This leads to a dark night of the soul, after which
8. the hero makes a leap of faith that allows him to
9. confront evil again and be victorious.
10. Finally, the student becomes the teacher.

Every book or film can be analyzed according to the Hero’s Journey.

Once you learn to plan a story this way, it becomes much easier to plot stories and to critique your own work as well as the work of others.

Basically what's happening in story is a character must make a CHOICE and this choice is shown by ACTIONS and all those actions must have CONSEQUENCES.

The character must make a choice required by the story and there must be action because of this choice. Think CAUSE and EFFECT. Something happens, the character reacts based on who he or she is and that causes reaction and so on. There's a SET-UP, aRESPONSE, an ATTACK, and a RESOLUTION. This paradigm will make it easier to structure your story.

The MAIN CHARACTER or PROTAGONIST or POV NARRATOR has a history (the character sketch and backstory you've created) and something changes that creates the story: a bomb drops, a best friend betrays, an opportunity arises, etc. The hero attacks the problem or goes after the goal and something else changes and then, finally, things resolve: the mountain is climbed, the treasure is found, therace is won.

Story is like life. As heroes of our own stories, we are constantly responding, reacting, changing, adapting, shifting and, because of our actions, something changes.

That brings about conflict and that is story.



April is National Poetry Month and it's time to celebrate poets and poetry.  The bestfiction writing uses the same literary elements as seen in poetry: metaphor, symbolism, alliteration, and subtext.

Where do poets get their inspiration? "Poems come from ordinary experiences and objects, I think," Sharon Olds, winner of the 1984 National Book Critics Circle Award for her book, The Dead and the Living, says. "Out of memory—a dress I lent my daughter on her way back to college; a newspaper photograph of war; a breast self-exam; the tooth fairy; Calvinist parents who beat up their children; a gesture of love; seeing oneself naked 
over age 50 in a set of bright hotel bathroom mirrors." 

How do we read poetry?

First of all, we turn off the television. Secondly, we're prepared; we have a book of poetry on hand for those surprising moments when we have a chance to read. Third, we read silently and then we read the poem once again out loud, paying attention the rhythm of the lines as we slowly absorb the poem's meaning. 

Poetry demands our attention and concentration. Being able to concentrate in today's hectic world is sometimes impossible. Waking up in the middle of the night unable to sleep is the perfect time to turn on a light and read a few poem. Time spent having to wait 
for an appointment can be better utilized by pulling out a volume of poetry.

Good poetry has clarity of language that will help us in our own writing. The closer we 
look at poetry, the more we will discover about excellent writing. Poetry is, after all, words put together in the most perfect order.

Put a poem in your pocket during National Poetry Month. Read one, write one, and share one with others. We have 26 letters to play with and mold into art, and poetry makes the best use of those letters.