See the bones, see the selfies
On my first and only visit to Washington D.C., a big part of my day I devoted to learning mode on human and mammalian evolution. My spouse and I even took a turn into the engaging galleries of dinosaurs. These halls filled with families taking photographs. Visitors even took selfies. Which rather startled me. They posed before the bones of many an extinct creature. Not sure what that means in the short term for their family vacation photos. I would not send a friend a shot of myself with a brontosaurus.
Stories must have legs
Of course, the legs our stories need do not been dinosaurs. Story legs mean a story must take us somewhere. Fictional characters need to be able to change. Who wants to read a four hundred page novel, where the main character does not change?
These metaphorical legs being referred to must take us somewhere. Hopefully, somewhere we have never been before. I do adore travel books because travel transports us. Even to unlikely and odd places, we can’t help but feel curiosity, right? I love fiction that takes me to new and often dangerous places. I used to read a ton of science fiction. I loved the exotic outer space worlds they introduced me too. These days, I read more mystery, suspense, and historical fiction.
I believe the phrase your story needs legs comes as from a fable or joke. If you know the origins please leave me a note in a comment.
Writers need surprises too
When a story has good or great bones, it can walk, swim or fly off into surprising territories. Once you examine what type of animal or genre you write. Much of your headaches settle in the area of telling the story. No matter what Act you happen to be writing, knowing the bones of your story makes the writing come much more easily.
- bones give shape to stories
- bones help stories walk, crawl, swim or fly
- bones help writers pace their stories in readers hands
- bones lend mood to stories & hint at the ending
- bones can glow in the dark, long after the story has an end
“…no surprises for the writer, no surprises for the reader.” Robert Frost
Comparing Stories to Stage Plays
We can also look at stories and compare them to types of performance art or stage plays. Choosing whether your story leans into comedy toward laughter, romps, or mixups. Does your story end in marriage and song or lean towards tragedy. Do you want to bring tears to your reader’s eyes? Do you plan on ending with the main character’s death?
Is your story a hero’s journey full of challenges, action, thrills, fear. death, mystery, and triumph? Defining your genre or story type helps the reader know right away what type of a story he or she has landed in.
Tune in Next Week for Write Monday
I promise to talk about POV or what is known as the point of view and choices available to writers in a story of any length. If you write for adults and an educated audience, then switching points of view can work well. Often writers of fiction tell stories from multiple points of view. Your first choice does not have to limit you in your revisions, but it helps to have a solid idea, through reading many, many books like the one you are working on, to gauge what works effectively for you as the reader.
- First person point of view uses the pronoun, I..
- Second person point of view uses the pronoun, You…
- Third person point of view uses the pronouns, she, he, and they,
Thanks for reading, caring, and sharing, Deborah Taylor-French