Re/vision: Story Shapes

Wayward Writers

This week in Seed & Structure, we’ve been demystifying the sometimes dreaded, sometimes over-romanticized idea of PLOT. We used Janet Burroway’s Writing Fiction to break plot down to its essentials: desire – conflict – crisis action (aka climax) – resolution, and then looked at four different metaphors to discover that shape within the finished first drafts of our stories: story as war, story as power struggle, story as a series of connections and disconnections (or emotional highs and lows) and story as Greek theater (Frietag triangle/inverted check mark).


So why bother? Isn’t this all a little formulaic? Well…maybe. But more importantly, it really works. I personally like to use these models as a diagnostic tool. When something doesn’t quite jibe in a story I’m revising, I go through the different models and see what ingredients are missing. Chances are good, that my problem is sitting right in…

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