So, first of all, it’s worth noting that most of the story’s momentum comes from the “What’s going to happen next?” question, and that’s a question that arises from present-time story. Most of the story’s meaning, however, arises from the time digressions.
I work with a lot of manuscripts–everything from novels to short stories; chapters, scenes; essays, memoir–and in this video, I go over four of the most common problems I’ve encountered in the work I’ve read in the past year or so.
I introduced this concept of scenes vs. summary in my post on the four ways to break down page-level craft. Here, in more detail, is what scene vs. summary is all about. And I’ve included some explanation on how the story writer can benefit from knowing this aspect of craft.
To understand the substance of story and how it performs, you need to view your work from the inside out, from the center of your character, looking out at the world through your character’s eyes, experiencing the story as if you were the living character yourself. –Robert McKee
Here are four ways to break down what can be included on a page. There’s some overlap between these, but it’s helpful to consider these four breakdowns when you’re crafting your scenes.
There’s a lot of writing advice out there. It is not difficult to find. It is also not difficult to feel overwhelmed by it all and, consequently, a bit inadequate as a writer. If you’re like me, you may question yourself on occasion. Am I doing this right? Should I be waking up at 4:00am every morning to write for three hours? Should I be outlining using the hero’s journey? My God, do I need to tweet?
In my MFA program, we were required to read 80 books over the two-year course of study. Like most writers, I was already a voracious reader, but time constraints and job demands had meant that I read far fewer than 40 books a year. In reading such a large volume of books, though, I came to embrace some tenets of story consumption: