I love, love, love the idea that the hero and villain are two sides of the same coin. Yes, that was a nerdy Two-Face reference. Good catch!
One of my most dearly held beliefs is that you need balance in writing, so your superhero needs a supervillain. It’s such a yin-and-yang concept that it satisfies my compulsion for symmetry in the best way.
It feels like the hero and the villain are literary mirror images, as though they are twins in the mind of the author. The difference between the two lies in the choices they make and the resulting actions.
Think of the original Star Trek series in which one storyline sets up an alternate universe. The original, or Good, crew is facing the darkest parts of themselves in the Evil crew. The classic Good vs. Evil scenario is freshened with the idea that the sides are essentially the same, although skewed in different directions morally.
Have you had success in your writing using this concept? Let me know what you think about it in the comments.
This article sparked my imagination. Staci Troilo does a splendid job of illustrating the ideas of story structure using a couple of construction analogies.
She compares the timeline of a story with the structure of a simple house, like the ones you’d see on a kindergartener’s drawing. Marsbarn Designs has the perfect example.
You have the left wall, the left side of the roof, the apex, the right side of the roof, and the right wall. You need all of those things to keep the house from falling down. According to Staci, the left wall represents the introduction, the left roof line is the rising action, the apex is the climax, the right side of the roof is the falling action, and the right wall is the resolution.
Simple, but compelling. Any proud parent will tell you this basic structure is a work of art straight from the unfettered imagination of their little darling.
If you aren’t a fan of the house analogy, Staci presents an alternative – blueprints.
In this variation, the house is divided into three parts – the basement, main floor, and attic. These parts represent the Three Act Structure, so the basement is the First Act, the main floor is the Second, and so on.
Her explanation of these analogies got me thinking. My idea of structure is a little more complex. Instead of a simple A-frame, I want to build a cathedral.
The first step, for me, is the basic plan. Seven Point Story Structure, Three Act Structure, and the classic structure described above can all be used as the blueprint to give you the broad strokes of your story.
As anyone who has worked in construction can tell you, blueprints are subject to change. The owners change their minds on wall positioning, the supplier doesn’t have the right grade of steel for the supports, etc., etc. What usually happens to me is that at a certain point the characters in my head start telling me their story, instead of the other way around. Together, we finalize construction plans.
Using the blueprint for guidance, I begin the next and most important part – building the foundation and the support. Without a good, solid foundation, my cathedral will topple under its own weight. If the arches of my plot points aren’t properly supported, then they, too, will crumble. There is nothing more dangerous to the pillars of my story than a disbelieving reader who huffs and puffs and blows them off their shaky pedestals.
With my plan in front of me, my foundation carefully laid, my pillars and arches in place, I can apply the finishing touches. Now is the time for the decorative word work, the stained glass mood windows, the landscaping that showcases the setting, and the careful placement of all the furniture elements that give depth and richness. With a little editorial polish, my cathedral is magnificent.
Reading through it, I felt that thrill. You know what I mean. The thrill of finding the missing piece. The joy of an epiphany.
It isn’t what you think.
The article starts with clear examples of what to do. I found myself vibrating with anticipation. Yay! THIS will be the article that keeps me from screwing up from the get-go.
I read through the examples and nodded, smug about the secrets I was learning. Yes, that makes sense. Absolutely, Paula. Preach it!
I read Paula’s superstar advice about editing. What she wrote makes absolute and total sense – one of those pieces of advice that suddenly puts the world back into alignment. Oh, that’s genius. Totally going to do that.
I got up and looked for the tools I would need to follow her advice, then it hit me.
I CAN’T EDIT WHAT I HAVEN’T WRITTEN.
The thought smacked me upside the head so heard it made me dizzy. I haven’t actually written anything to edit in over a year. I have a piece of a novel, part of a short story, and a few writing prompts saved in a folder on my computer that hasn’t been accessed since 2015.
I am so afraid of failure that I haven’t even started.
Instead, I’ve been spending tons of money on e-courses, self-help books, copywriting classes, even a subscription to a site that will let you design your own book cover.
I’ve read thousands of pages of advice and instruction. I’ll start writing when I finish my e-courses. Or when I finish reading this how-to book. I still don’t know enough. Maybe I’ll start after this article. Or that awesome blog.
From what I’ve read, this phenomenon is common.
I have done everything except start writing. I made a Facebook page, a Twitter account, a Tumblr, and started this blog. I’ve designed headers and logos and created my brand.
I signed up for a course on writing, one on deconstructing popular bestsellers, one on grammar, yadda yadda, ad infinitum.
I’ve lost count of the email lists I belong to.
All of it is a distraction. A way to avoid doing what I’m most insecure about.
I love these case studies where they break down the plotting points in books we all know and love. A great way to learn the technique. Check this out!❤ In this post, I will show you the Seven Point Story Structure in a case study of Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban, written by […]