I’m really quite fascinated by the balance between originality and formula. The more I learn about storytelling, the more I’m amazed about its formulaic nature – the repeatable structure you can find, like a skeleton beneath the flesh, in any satisfying tale.
This week I’ve been reading about the interior mechanics of scenes and sequels, thanks to Scene and Structure by Jack Bickham. It’s part of the much-loved-by-me Elements of Fiction Writing series. I’m feeling pretty good about act one of my new WIP, so so now I’m using his teachings to test my instinctive rough-draft plotting. Ensuring each scene has a goal, an external conflict, and a disaster – and ensuring each sequel has an emotional response, some thought and then a decision that leads to the next scene – has been quite revealing.
Okay, it has been more than revealing. This process has generated small breakthrough after small breakthrough, plot-wise. It has knit my ideas tightly together, building momentum and keeping my eye on the big picture – the story question.
Taking an original idea and viewing it through the lens of a tried-and-true formula: perhaps this is alchemy…where the magic happens.