writing recap 2019: w15

Something of a tough week. Mechanically rather than creatively. I spent the majority of it finishing a short story that I started during the MRK Short Story Intensive. This story really did not want to be out in the world — each word was like pulling teeth. Impacted wisdom teeth. Requiring lots of heavy machinery. Or, if you’d rather, I really had to mine for each word.

I’m not sure exactly why this is. I had the same feeling writing the beginning of this piece during the intensive, and I was convinced that it was terrible because it felt so hard to write. But when I went back to read it, it was fine. I received good feedback from my fellow MRKers too.

I’m wondering if it’s because I’m trying to use a specific outlining technique. Normally when I write, I start by discovery writing to find a direction. Well, scratch that. I start by noodling on an idea, holding it in my brain and feeling some of the edges. Usually, I catch on something and I go with that. Then I discovery write to figure out where it wants to go. But what ends up happening is that my arc lacks meaningful conflict and tension (so more of a line than an arc, I guess). Or, for longer form works, I get lost in the middle and I’m not sure where to go.

This is an issue I’ve run up against repeatedly.

And this is where the MRK Short Story Intensive* came in.

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outlining a story

There’s more than one way to outline a story.

(TL;DR Story outline template at the end of this post!)

You’ll see a myriad of methods published all over the place about the best way to do it, but ultimately, the best method is just the one that you’ll use. That is, if you plan to outline at all – many people don’t and discovery write their way to success.

I haven’t done too much research into all the different methods, because I just latched on to the first one that I learned about (from Writing Excuses, natch), which is the Seven Point Story Structure a la Dan Wells (he originally got it from a role-playing book, but it’s now widely associated with  him). The idea is that every story goes sequentially through the following seven points:

  • Hook
  • Turn 1
  • Pinch 1
  • Midpoint
  • Pinch 2
  • Turn 2
  • Resolution

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