19 March 2009

How to Create a Classic Story Plot

The Universal Story form echoes in every great movie and in our lives, too, both as observers and as ourselves.

In some form or another, everyday we leave behind the known world and enter an unusual and exotic world of the unknown. Once there, we go through an outer journey that affects who we are internally.

The sequence repeats itself in each scene, at the chapter and act level, and in the overall story itself. We face foes and find allies. In the Middle, mostly unconscious, we stumble around, out of balance. A Crisis hits. The dark night of the soul overtakes us. Out of the darkness comes a gift = a wake-up call. But not everyone "wakes up" the first time disaster hits. Often, one Crisis hits at the halfway point only to be repeated again at the 3/4 mark.

The ascent to the Climax is about shedding the skin of who we or the characters were in order to become who we are meant to be.

How we face the Climax has everything to do with choices and grace. Transformation at depth or superficial proclamations that amount to nothing but air? Victim or victor? You decide about your own life and about your writing life, too.

When we enter a movie theater or begin a new book, we take the journey with the character.

The author creates an outer dramatic action story -- mystery, romance, historical, rescue, some concrete goal that is achieveable -- in order to show an inner character emotional development story. Both plot lines rise at the End of the Beginning, falter in the Middle, are shaken at the Crisis, and deliver at the Climax.

The showing of character transformation (along with incorporating tons of other aspects of good writing) suspends time and entertains.

At its best, a story not only transforms the character.

Truly great stories transform the reader, too.

What stories have transformed you?