In section four of “Telling True Stories,” famed journalists and screenwriters spill a lot of ink about the organization of stories.
They mostly said, and I am paraphrasing: STRUCTURE. YOU NEED STRUCTURE. FOR THE LOVE OF GOD, PUT STRUCTURE IN YOUR STORIES.
This made me cringe. I am notorious for being lazy with this. Guidance has never been my strong suit. I am horrible at giving directions. It’s not that I purposefully want to confuse my readers. I just can never figure this out. Because of this lack of structure in my writing, I have decided that I should not pursue architecture. Or bricklaying.
In Jon Franklin’s contribution, ‘A Story Structure,’ he explains the import of chronology and finding what the story is truly about. This is deceptively difficult. It’s like when you tell your friend a brainteaser. You know the answer and can’t help but think, “This is easy! Why can’t you get this? It’s right in front of you!” However, when the tables are turned and your friend tells you a brainteaser, you can never seem to figure it out.
For me, writing is like that. I just can’t find my focus quickly.
Kelley Benham takes an interesting approach to writing in her short “Hearing Our Subjects’ Voices: Quotes and Dialogue.” Benham writes that she tries to use quotes sparingly. This is quite interesting, as I tend to think that quotes are the most important part of a story. After all, they are the subject’s thoughts directly presented to the reader.
The one example that truly struck me was Deneen L. Brown’s example of a little girl named Jessica Bradford. I love the characters in this story. Brown represented them well. If you want to read the story, it can be found here.
The phrase I am going to take away from this section is Phil Dixon’s phrase “evoke the soul of a place.” After all, the best stories are the ones who seem to completely capture the essence of a person or situation. These seem to get stuck in my brain and linger while the rest of the information I take in flies out.
I am going to task myself with three writing challenges:
- Add some structure. I don’t want my writing to be confusing and end up crumbling all over the page.
- Figure what a story is truly about. What is the kernel of information that needs to be shared with others? What is the soul of this story?
- Keep it brief. Nobody likes rambling. Get to the point, Amanda!
Wish me luck!