During a recent family movie night, my son exclaimed,"Now that's a climax!" The movie had reached its apex and begun its descent to the end. For him at least, the story portion of the film accomplished every story's underlying purpose. It used a series of engaging events to create anticipation then guide the viewer to the main event of the story. It seemed like he enjoyed the experience more since he knew the parts, much the same way music gains depth and meaining for educated listeners.
When writing fiction, a writer must effectively provide an exposition, a series of ascending events, a climax and a fitting resolution. All of these elements comprise the "plot" of a story. The simplicity or complexity of the plot must be dictated by the story itself--how the development of each element most effectively relates to the story told.
Writers must exploit these elements to the best advantage of each story they write. My son's observation reaffirmed the importance and significance of knowing the technical parts of a story well. Films, books, operas even video games--the best begin with a really great story. This knowledge enhances a reader's or viewer's appreciation of a story, because they can sense and discern the elements moving in concert.
Who remembers diagramming sentences? If you ever completed such an assignment, I commisterate with you. It was tedious; it was a pain; and it worked. You may not have mastered dangling participles, but you definitely know the basics, subject, verb, adjective and adverb. You probably could even still identify direct objects, prepositions and prepositional objects in a pinch, because you learned sentence structure.
Here's this month's challenge: create a story diagram. Take one of your previously written pieces preferrably a short piece or one of your favorite short stories. Make copies and then diagram the parts of the story. Mark the exposition, the ascesnding events, the climax, any descending events/resolution and the end. Does the story move clearly and effectively through each phase of the plot? Is it well paced? Does the story move too quickly or too slowly at any point? Is the climax fitting or does it underserve the building events, creating an anti-climax?
Have fun. I'll post my efforts to diagram one of my short stories at the end of the month.
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