Tuesday, December 20, 2016

The Shape of Tales to Come

Well, the next prompt in line is to describe the view out my window, and… it's dark. So we'll hold off on that for now. Where does that leave us then? Besides in the dark.

Right here, digging through my stored up stuff. In the dark.

I have, in my possession, a list of plot structures:

  • Circular: End where you began
  • Sonata form: A "fast" movement, a "slow" movement, and another "fast" movement
  • Canterbury Tales: A group of characters on a journey together, sharing their life stories
  • Convergent: Seemingly unrelated story arcs which connect at the end
  • Parallel: Two or more narrators tell different, possibly contradictory versions of the same narrative
  • Divergent: Two related story arcs diverge from each other until they have nothing common at the end
  • Spoiler: Flash forward to parts of the climax at several points in the story
  • Micro/Macro: Alternate between a small, personal plotline and its historical or regional backdrop
  • How We Got Here: Start in the middle of the story, then spend half the book in a mega flashback working your way back to that point.
  • Frame: The story is being told within a larger story.
  • Retro/Future: Write the same character at two different points in their life, alternating between the two.
  • Nuclear Monkey Attack Sequence: A series of short stories in a sequence, and tied together by a thread of commonality between each one. Could be an event that affects characters in both scenes, or an email between characters, or an object that appears in both scenes, or a rumor that spreads between them. It's kind of a 'stages of separation' thing where you show how discrete characters are all tied together by seemingly random stuff.
  • Location POV:  For example, you could have everything told from inside an elevator, and see only the snippets of time that the doors are open for.
  • Alternating: Chapters that alternate between a group of travelers trying to get something somewhere, and a group of travelers hundreds of years later trying to find that thing. Whether the first group succeeds will impact whether the second one can. Or chapters or sections that alternate between 'the good guys' and 'the bad guys', or just teams competing for something.

Now, I've never really been clever enough to employ any of these, but I'd certainly like to try. I tend to tell my stories in a very straightforward, linear sort of way. That's all well and good, but maybe it's time for something different. I think that "Location POV" might be useful for a short story to submit for publication. The "Nuclear Monkey Attack Sequence" (which I didn't name) would be interesting if I could guarantee several stories published in one collection. Each would stand on its own, but be connected to the others. But I'll be lucky if I can get one story published.

Most of the structures are better suited for longer works, because you need room to have all of these parts and pieces all fit together. They would require planning. A lot of planning. An ambitious undertaking, to say the least.

So what do you think, readers? Any of these plot structures you'd like to see in action?

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