1. Lone Vista
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    Lone Vista Member

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    Mid-level story construction

    Discussion in 'General Writing' started by Lone Vista, May 1, 2016.

    I'm having difficulty assembling individual scenes into a comprehensive story.

    I have no difficulty working with the big picture of the narrative (e.g. The main conflict is A, the point of the story is B, the ending is X) or writing small, individual scenes (A walks over to B and they converse, argue, then fight etc). But when it comes to stringing scenes together to make the plot, I find myself at a loss as to where to begin.

    I can certainly appreciate the basics, (beginning, middle, end, etc.) but beyond that I feel like I have no idea what I'm doing.
    Should this character reveal their plot-relevant secret in the same installment as another character coping with the death of a loved one? Is it better to resolve conflict A at the midpoint, or at the end alongside conflict B? How many simultaneous threads at one time is too many? If there are multiple characters with arcs and development, all independent of the larger plot, how do I work with each of them equally and still keep the story rolling?

    I'm basically asking for advice about narrative construction in general, but especially regarding works with multiple episodes/installments; works made up of smaller, individual stories that all fit into a larger whole.

    I recall asking for help about this topic once before in another thread, but it was a fair while ago and I'm not sure where the dickens it's gone to. I hope starting a new one like this is alright.
     
    Last edited: May 3, 2016
  2. Sack-a-Doo!
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    Sack-a-Doo! Contributing Member Contributor

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    You might consider reading Save the Cat! by Blake Snyder. That's about as mid-level as it gets. It's for movies, but storytelling is storytelling, right?

    He breaks a story down into 15 'beats' which is pretty much mid-way between beginning, middle, end and scene-by-scene. It's not the be-all-end-all of mid-level structure, but it should get you thinking along the lines you're... um... thinking of. You might end up wanting to read all three in the series. (You can find them on Amazon, but since Amazon sells by country and you didn't specify where you live, I'll leave it to you to find links appropriate for your area.)

    You might also dig into Dramatica theory. It's not quite as beat-y as Snyder's approach, but does have some interesting insights in its Plot Outline in Eight Easy Steps. I'd still check out STC! first, though.

    Both approaches give you an overview of the hills and valleys a story is expected to traverse along the way toward a climax.
     
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  3. Feo Takahari
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    Feo Takahari Active Member

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    I don't have a one-size-fits-all solution, but I do have two ideas for narrowing the field:

    1): Create patterns that show similarities and differences between characters. For instance, if each main character faces their greatest fear, each experience might have the same overall structure, but differences will appear in what exactly happens to each character and how they react.

    2): Eliminate all possibilities that would create plot holes due to the amount of time that can believably pass and the order in which events must happen. You may have only a few options left, of which one is noticeably better than the others.
     
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