Write Monday: a story must have legs

A story must have legs

I believe this phrase comes as part of a fable or joke, if you know the origins please leave me a comment. A big part of my day ended up being in learning mode on human and mammalian evolution. We even took a turn into the engaging long galleries on dinosaurs, filled with families taking photographs and selfies posed before the bones of many an extinct creature.

So we sit, still in Act I, our opening for creative nonfiction or fiction. Of course, the legs our stories need do not have any real component, these legs we think about help us to define, form and structure our story like an animal that can stand up and walk. Why do I suggest our stories need to walk on their own legs?

Can you believe these were herbivores?
Can you believe these were herbivores?
Writers need surprises, too

When a story has good or great bones, it can walk, swim or fly off into surprsing territories. Once you examine what type of animal or genre you write. Much of your headaches settle in the area of telling the story. No matter what Act you happen to be writing, knowing the bones of your story makes the writing come much more easily.

  • bones give shape to stories
  • bones help stories walk, crawl, swim or fly
  • bones help writers pace their stories in readers hands
  • bones lend mood to stories & hint at the ending
  • bones can glow in the dark, long after the story has end
Does this start a story?
Am I looking down or looking up through a mirror?

“…no surprises for the writer, no surprises for the reader.” Robert Frost

Comparing stories to stage plays

We can also look at stories and compare them to types of performance art or stage play. Choosing wether your story leans into comedy toward laughter, romps, mixups and ending in marriage and song, or if your story leans toward tragedy bring tears to our eyes and ending in the main character’s death, or for that matter if your story fits a hero’s journey full of challenges, action, thrills, fear. death, mystery and triumph. Defining your genre or story type helps the read know right away what type of a story he or she has landed in.

Tune in next Monday for more on Act I

I promise to talk about POV or what is known as point of view and choices available to writers as they being a story of any length. If you write for adults and an educated audience, then switching points of view can work well. Often writers of fiction tell stories from multiple points of view. Your first choice does not have to limit you in your revisions, but it helps to have a solid idea, through reading many, many books like the one your are working on, to gage what works effectively for you as the reader.

  • First person point of view uses the pronoun, I..
  • Second person point of view uses the pronoun, You…
  • Third person point of view uses the pronouns, she, he, and they,

    Does this dog look fearful?
    What’s the story here?

Thanks for reading, caring and sharing, Deborah Taylor-French

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