Oh, I Juggle!

Home, Family, Success, Peace… Can a woman really have it all?

Mechanics of a Story

Amy Deardon’s ‘The Story Template’ arrived by courier last evening. I am super thrilled!

I have always been fascinated with learning about how things work. The mechanics of machines, food, life, relationships, happiness, anything. I want to break down the processes which go on within. See how they connect. Learn what makes them work together as a whole. The workings of a successful story, I feel no differently about. Even though spontaneous creativity must be valued and cherished, there are certain invisible laws at work which make a story attractive or not. And that is what seems to separate the successful ones from the also rans.

Randy Ingermanson’s book with Peter Economy, Fiction Writing for Dummies is a wonderful book which summarises the essentials of fiction writing. I read and reread the book. I was so much in love with the ‘how to’ aspects that it took a fair amount of willpower to actually create a consistent writing schedule and get started with the actual work. Things started looking up when I decided to become an early riser. It has been nearly a month since I began waking up at 4 am. I cannot begin to extol the benefits. As any busy mother can understand, two solid hours of focus time without any other distractions (kids, doorbell, phone) can make so much difference to a cluttered schedule.

As I work along any project, I keep looking for new inspiration to motivate me. So, instead of spending time writing, I took a break to look for inspiration ;-). I found Amy’s blog. When I learned that she took apart twenty entertaining modern novels and films to study story progression and determine common pathways, I knew that this lady was one after my own heart. I had to have the book in which she captured that learning.

So, here I am, holding it in my hands, excited as a child with an unopened present. Can’t wait to begin reading, doing the exercises and then seeing how I can implement them in the novel, a third of which I have already written.

And if indeed storytellers are born, not made, I will just pretend that I am honing the skill I already have.


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15 thoughts on “Mechanics of a Story

  1. Sounds interesting. When I was in college I came across a non-fiction book by horror author Stephen King called Danse Macabre; this book gives an insight into how a popular author goes about his work, his influences and the history of horror genre. May be you can give this a try too.

  2. I have heard that his ‘On Writing’ is also good. Will certainly love to read both.

  3. Juggler, thanks a ton for the kind words that you left behind on my blog! I think creative writing would be difficult to address using ” how to’ books alone. The thing is to write and take feedback. As another aspiring writer ( Like you) I have learnt a lot from the feedback that people visiting my blog have provided. One important thing about creative writing ( particularly fiction) is that if you do not have good command over the language the communication is very pathetic!! So the creativity does not come through – I think this is different from writing anything else where bad language often can be ignored since you have a point to make… !! I just cannot abide bad language and poor narration when I read a story!

    • I cannot agree more, Meera. I am sometimes put off by some writings just because the language is bad, even if the ideas might be good. It is too distracting:-) . But, I also believe that all learning can be hastened if one analyses and understands certain underlying processes and tries to master them too.

      I am working on a full length novel. After I complete the first draft and comb the manuscript to smoothen it out, I will send it out to a few readers for critique. Like you said, feedback puts things into perspective.

      This is such a long road. It sometimes gets lonely. Blogs like yours help keep up the inspiration to go on.

  4. Juggler, this world is new to me. I have not read any on this topic except Julia Cameron ( Artist’s Way).I liked the introduction to Amy’s Blog.

    I find your pages are shaping up very well, with promises and surprises bidding their time. I am sure you are going to pull out some soon. Waiting.

    • Sorry for responding late, you comment was in my spam and I just found it.

      I tried Julia Cameron’s morning pages for a while. Had to give up when my mornings become more busy.

      Thanks for your kind words. Sometimes things flow smoothly, other times it is quite a challenge. Will keep working at it.

  5. I have been promising myself to get a copy of Danse Macabre by Stephen King (pointed out by a visitor above) for over a decade. I find it hard to start reading books like that.

    You are doing a blessed thing by rising early in the morning. Wish you all the best.

  6. Loved the way you have written this post. I am also feeling like owning this book now 🙂 btw, first time here and loved it.

  7. Nice to read about this. Practice is the key, though 🙂
    Stories mostly are emotional which according to me follow the language to the heart and what heart says is the key.

    Nevertheless, good luck

    • Yes, Divenita. Emotion is what makes the reader care and compels him/her to read further. Ananlysis is never to manufacture something using a formula. It is just to understand how the magic works.

      Each of us has her own favourite way of going about things. I just need to employ my intellect to analyse things so that it gives my creative mind enough breathing space to do its thing. The analysis is for understanding and celebrating the heart not replacing it.

      I really appreciate you sharing your honest opinions. Such debate with emotionally mature people deepens my own understanding of who I am and what I want to do.

      Thanks for your good wishes!

  8. aarathiselvan on said:

    That is amazing Juggler! I kept off from taking lessons in writing fiction after I realized I wanted to write in the genre that I do now (no idea what the genre would be called, maybe some category under creative spontaneity). I am so impressed that you wake up at 4!!! I agree with you on waking up early. I’ve been doing it for the last four months and I absolutely love it 🙂

    • Wonderful! I would love to learn more about what you write.

      It was a battle between late night or early morning. Since the kids compete for night time attention and they definitely will not wake up early, mornings won hand down.

      Downside, I get cranky by 8 pm.

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