So, you’ve made it this far, huh? You’ve taken all the basics of story building (The Tri-Core Substructure, the Five Act Structure, Genre, Genotype, Character Development), you’ve carefully designed your story (Five Stage Plot, The Hero’s Journey, Micro Stories, Episodic Reduction), but that’s not enough for you. You want some tricks and tools to make your story unique…to make it stand out. Most importantly, you don’t really want your reader to figure out what you’re up to. You want to grab the reader by the nose, lead them through your complex, masterful, story weaving, and deliver a climax that will leave them breathless. You want your story to be unforgettable.
Welcome to the club.
Here are a few common tricks and tools you can use to twist your story exactly the way you want. You’ve probably thought of a few of these things, but for the best effect you should make sure they are implemented properly. Each item has some peculiarities you should remember, otherwise your efforts may fall flat or go unnoticed by the reader.
This way of classifying a story is perhaps one of the most important yet overlooked items. It’s easily confused with genre…probably because there are a few common genres which actually double as a genotype. Yet there is a distinct difference. Genre is best understood as the designation of the story’s setting, style, and audience. Essentially, it is how the story relates to the reader. (See the previous article in the series.) So root that firmly in your brain as we go forward.
Genotype is how the story relates to the characters in the book. The characters aren’t experiencing a genre of setting, style, and audience. They are experiencing life…their lives. Genotype helps us to understand what aspect of life that they are experiencing. This has a TREMENDOUS effect on how plot and characters are developed, because plot and character development are directly related to the experiences of the characters. Let’s look at a few examples.
THE TRI-CORE SUBSTRUCTURE
This week I want to talk about the foundational layer of story building, the Tri-Core Substructure. Shiny, huh? I made that term up myself because neither my publisher nor I could think of a proper pre-existing term.
What is the Tri-Core Substructure? It is the very basic most primitive form of a story: Character, Experience, Reaction. Or in other words, he came, he saw, he did. Each of these three primitive parts of a story can be reduced to the three core parts of which we will be talking about. Character (personal development), Story (experiential objective), Plot (action/reaction).
THIS ARTICLE SERVES AS THE MAIN MENU FOR THE SERIES. CLICK EACH TITLE TO ACCESS THE FULL INDIVIDUAL ARTICLES.
What you’ll get from these articles is not a “how to” on plot development or character development, but rather a wider view on the construction and development of the story as a whole. Having no formal education in creative writing, no doubt some of my terminology may be foreign to creative writing students. Keep in mind, though, I have been a self-student of creative writing for twenty years or more. Maybe my way of approaching things will be refreshing encouragement to the rigorous tenants of traditional writing study. So here comes lesson one. Step into my mind and see how I analyze a story…