Tag Archives: story structure

#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.

#SOL17: And before that . . .


 

 

deer deer deer

Three deer strolled casually across the road.  I breathed a sigh of relief.  No slamming of brakes.  No sliding bags.  No coffee spilled.  I had already hit my brakes when the rear outer red lights flashed on the car in front of me.

And before that, I had just mentioned to a friend on Voxer that it was either

  0: dark : thirty OR

0: deer : thirty.

I guess I knew the most accurate time.  No rain so deer were moving.  Slow and steady for the next four miles down Deer Alley.

And before that, I had just commented on an open gate:  “Will those cows be out on the road, in the ditch, or behind the house?”

And before that, I was driving down the road en route to the office for my early morning appointment in the tech department.  I was sick and tired of issues with posting my slices 3/4 of the days of the March SOLSC.

And before that, I was racing Mya to the end of the driveway and amazed (daily) by the fact that her four legs regularly beat my four cylinder Vibe.

And before that, I was packing my work bag.

  • a Dell laptop
  • a Chromebook plus
  • an iPad mini
  • a Samsung phone

“Did I have all the necessary devices for the day?” I wondered.

And before that, I was enjoying a peaceful second cup of coffee.  Silence.  Coffee.  Peace. Thinking time.  No noise.  No devices.  No conversation with Mya.

And before that, I was packing my lunch of a granola bar and a turkey and jalapeno cheese wrap.  Plus a travel cup of coffee.

And before that, I was drinking that first cup of coffee for the morning. Savoring the smell of those coffee beans.  Hearing the drip.  And waiting eagerly for that first jolt of caffeine!

And before that, shower . . . shampoo . . . and the rest of the story is not available for print.

Do you always tell a story in chronological order?  

Have you tried reverse order?  

Does it feel uncomfortable to you?  

What structure might you try as an innovation?



Thank you, Betsy, Beth, Deb, Kathleen, Lanny, Lisa, Melanie, and Stacey for this weekly forum and the #SOLSC that runs from March 1 to the 31st. Check out the writers, readers and teachers here.

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