#SOL17:  Structure

I had to go back. my fifth time to reread the opening chapter.  This is the first paragraph:

” She stood at the window of the Manhattan apartment, peeking through a slit In the drapes. Her hands trembled.”

I knew the “she” was Gabriela. That was obvious from the first reading. But what did I know about Gabriela. Or more importantly, what had I MISSED about Gabriela?

MY task . . . Self-imposed . . . To make sense of Jeffery Deaver’s The October List. 

I had already read the preview on my kindle. I was going to check the library for a print version, but there it was at eye level at the Dollar Store with a $3 yellow sticker.

The inside flap:

“Gabriela waited desperately for news of

Her abducted daughter.

At last, the door opens.

But it’s not the negotiators.

It’s not the FBI.

It’s the kidnapper

And he has a gun.”

How did Deaver create suspense?

He chose Structure.

He began with the ending and went backwards one scene at a time.

As a reader, I had to figure out which details were important in the past and where were the red herrings that led me off the path? Rocket science? No! BUt I was reading this book as I began Vicki Vinton’s,  Dynamic Teaching for Deeper Learning, and I did not want to merely read it as a “plot junkie” as mentioned in chapter five.  I wanted to consider HOW I deliberately made sense of this text in order to better inform my reader lay self (and perhaps borrow the idea for a longer writing task).

I started a list. Basic jots of key details.

I wished for a talking partner to share ideas.

I made some oral notes on my phone.

I began to look for patterns.

How much time and how many chapters elapsed between key details?

Tally marks were replaced with questions

And then with possible solutions.

But how could they be solutions when I already knew the ending?

Events revealed.

Important?

Too soon to know.

But the compelling story line . . .

Two days,

A mother, a kidnapped six year old daughter,

A half million dollar ransom

And “The October List” to be delivered within 30 hours

OR . . .

Narrative Structure?

Typical structures include:

Plot Line

Story Arc

Story Map

Sequential

Flashback

Episodic

Scene by scene

Beginning, Middle, End

How does an author decide?

And even more importantly, how does a reader make sense of the structure?

What works for you?

And thanks to fellow slicer”Arjeha”, I already knew the key to the Structure, but not the key to the kidnapping!  Check out additional slices at TwoWritingTeachers.wordpress.com

Thank you, Betsy, Beth, Deb, Kathleen, Lanny, Lisa, Melanie, and Stacey for this weekly forum. Check out the writers, readers and teachers here.

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6 responses

  1. I love how you share your process as a reader. Maybe when the writer gives the reader the ending, in the beginning, it helps the plot junkie phenomenon. Or maybe it’s reading Vicki’s book that helps!

    1. Vicki’s book made me think there was more. There’s a subtle reason why even authors should NOT tell EVERY detail. Some of the work has to be left to the reader!

  2. The format of this book is what really grabbed my interest when I read it. Glad you found a copy. Must admit that I was surprised by the ending, or would it be the beginning? It is interesting to see how different authors grab our attention and keep us reading.

    1. Surprised? I was totally shocked!
      That’s why I started writing ideas down as well as slowing way down. Now I’m curious about whether other authors have done this!

  3. Oh, gosh, Fran. Now I will be ordering The October List and thinking about your post!

    1. Lynne,
      “The October List” felt a lot like 24 – only in reverse. Vicki said “The Lovely Bones” also begins at the end. I just ordered it so I don’t know if the whole book goes backwards. It was so interesting to try to solve in reverse!

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