Thursday, 7 March 2013

Story Structure - Hollywood style

Hollywood story lines
I came across a guide for a typical Hollywood movie structure a couple of years ago. It is designed to keep the film moving and viewer interested. At first glance, I thought little about it but then it came to me that it could be useful if adapted for a novel structure.

Personally, I think everyday life is far more bizarre that most Hollywood films, minus the special effects of course. Monsters exist, you only have to look at the news most days; mystery? well, a lot of things people do and say completely mystify me and as for aliens? I listen to people with weird perspectives and also the normal variety who are so normal it hurts and it's almost like they have been grown from an alien seedpod in a greenhouse somewhere and have just popped up. The planet I occupy and theirs is not quite the same.

So, anything that forces me, as a writer, to rethink and look again at story structures is another useful writing tool. The following are the bare bones:

1. Set time, space and setting
2. Something happens that refers to theme to show protagonists need for change or action
3. We now know who the hero is, what he wants, his plan to achieve it and the urgency and premise
4. Hero prepared to execute his plan, leading to the first turning point and his failure. His plan is pivoted unexpectedly
5. Hero tries a new way to achieve his goal and the plot moves forward through conflict
6. He fails again, but not as traumatically as his first turning point because the character is changing and adapting. Returning to his old life would be defeatist
7. The plot moves forward through conflict. He realises his plan failed again and he must move forward entering a strange new world / perspective to achieve his goal. This is the point of no return
8. Something gives moral support providing encouragement to move forward and strengthens character
9. Second turning point - hero will win or lose everything
10. Final climax, then resolution