Poetics Serendipity: NaNoWriMo I

06 Nov

8:23 a.m. — Atlanta

listening to Pentatonix singing Say Something

Hello, all. Today I am going to talk to you for a bit on some random considerations to do with plot and then provide a couple of links to things NaNoWriMo. Some of the musings will seem basic, yet if you were to look at your own story, or another participant’s would you really be surprised to not find these elements. After all, you are writing to a timetable and the revision will happen later, unless, of course, that’s what you are doing now. I find it still helps to have basic narrative elements wandering around the brain.

A story has a beginning, a middle, and an end.

girl meets boy
girl loses boy
girl gets boy

Cinderella can’t go
She goes anyway
Cinderella gets prince

Man lures rats
People won’t pay
Man takes children

Take a story [your story?] and break down its main idea into three sentences of three words each. This will help you understand the structure of the work. By choosing three verbs, you are forced to consider the three parts of the action. You’ll also discover whether you have a main idea.

Two basic plot lines:

sin    suffer    repent

quest      obstacle    overcome obstacle

Think of the novels you have read. You should find they fall into one, or both, the above.

This is the picture that should sit in the forefront of your writing brain:




Caveat: of course, there are exceptions. We’re talking the generality of fiction and this is very basic. The Pyramid (Freytag’s Pyramid) is often lopsided with the rising action being the longer arm. If you only remember three things, remember that the rising action contains the major conflict (and a host of minor ones); the climax is the point at which the main character makes a decision to do, or not do, something about the main conflict; this decision leads inevitably to the denouement, or resolution of the main conflict which you set up in the rising action (Roby’s Circle).

Yes, yes, I’ll stop. I get carried away. I love discussing narrative structure and the elements that provide it. I promised links. I won’t say anything, just provide them. Okay, minimum commentary. The first is a list of 42 Fiction Writing Tips for Novelists, by Melissa Donovan. I would go through and create a short-list for yourself. The second is Stephen King’s Top 20 Rules for Writers. Pay attention.

I will see you tomorrow for the week’s roundup of prompts; Tuesday for a narrative prompt; and Thursday for another little talk and possibly, links.

Happy writing, all.


Posted by on 06/11/2014 in links, writing


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2 responses to “Poetics Serendipity: NaNoWriMo I

  1. julespaige

    06/11/2014 at 3:10 pm


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