Do you know what the basic steps are in a story? I’m sure you’ve all gone through this at some point in your education. I can’t recall all the exact terms but I still remember the gist of things:
2. Turning Point
3. Rising action
5. Falling action
Ah! And I even got denouement spelled correctly! Well, it’s French and I suppose I retained a lot of that from school as well. OK, moving on… My point is, every story has to have these main points in order to be considered a story. Now, of course, with some stories or novels, these main events are difficult to detect. I still remember being in grade 8 and my teacher showing the cartoon/Disney version of Beauty and the Beast (one of my all-time favorite Disney cartoons. Absolutely enchanting!) as a perfect example of each of these moments.
Introduction: Back story on the Beast, Belle singing in town about wanting adventure, running into Gaston, discovering that her father is a bit of a nutter.
Turning Point: Maurice (Belle’s father) getting lost, finding the Beast’s castle, getting thrown in a prison cell, etc, etc.
Rising Action: Gaston’s marriage proposal, Belle rushing off to find her father, trading her life for his, falling in love, Gaston hunting the beast – basically, the main portion of the movie is all rising action.
Climax: The beast being magically transformed back into a man by the power of Belle’s love.
Falling Action: Everyone else changing back, the wedding, the happy dancing.
Denouement: The stained glass portait of everyone, with the song playing.
Now, I may not remember the details exactly, but this was a very clear example of each moment in a storyline. There was also a very clear protagonist, antagonist, theme, and a bunch of other stuff I can’t remember. 🙂 Hey, we’re talking grade 8 here, people!
As a writer, I still rely on these basic lessons though. Your story, long or short, does need to have all these main points. They may not be as obvious as Beauty and the Beast was, but that’s all right. As a reader, you still recognize what might be standing in the way of the happily ever after – or at least, the conclusion of a story, happy or not.
I went back through my “Ice” stories for a quick skim, and found that I was pretty good about including the intros, rising action, climaxes (LOL!) and all the rest. They weren’t always in-your-face obvious and I never had a mustache-twirling villain as an overt antagonist. Instead, I had things like insecurities and misunderstandings as the antagonists, and falling action that usually involved falling into bed. 😉 On the other hand, my TAITS series has some pretty clearly defined moments and some villains, thrown in for good measure.
I wonder sometimes though, how realistic are my conflicts? I don’t mean in the TAITS series because, let’s face it, that series is this close to being pure fantasy. 🙂 In the “Ice” series, or any of the romance I may write, are you frustrated by my choice of conflict or can you relate to it?
In one, I had a woman afraid to fall for a younger man. In another, two friends were afraid to get together because of all it might change. I also had a workaholic trying to fit a relationship into her life, and a student wondering if love can start with a one-night stand. Did you ever get any of that or were you turned off by the silliness of those conflicts? I guess, if you follow my blog and read my work, you must enjoy some of what I write, even if you don’t always agree with it.
But think about real life for a few minutes here. In your previous relationships, you must have, at some point or another, had a miscommunication or moment of doubt that led to an even bigger conflict or fight. I know I have and still do, on occasion. My stories, and those of other authors, are only a snapshot of a bigger picture. Your romantic life doesn’t end after six months of turmoil and drama, even if that’s the picture we’re portraying in our stories. Real life is even more conflict, but also constant resolution. You’d have gone through eighty relationships by the time you hit fifty years of age if you always threw in the towel at the first sign of trouble. And hey, maybe some people do that. As a writer, if I’m constantly striving for only the most realistic scenarios, I’d be writing the same damn story for the rest of my life. Right?! I think you know what I mean.
On the other hand, I don’t want to make my simple romances so chalk-full of dramatics that it makes the reader roll his or her eyes. So of course, I want my sometimes unrealistic conflicts to be as realistic as possible. Realistically speaking. 😉 Ha!
So the long and short of it is this, what is too dramatic or unrealistic to be in a story? As I asked above, have any of my couple conflicts made you roll your eyes or throw up your hands in frustration? Or can you see these things happening in real life? In your life, even.
I wonder about these kinds of things in relation to my own life, of course. I do about so many of my topics on here, really. Hey, life is inspiration! I wonder if I’m too much like my characters sometimes, if I make too much of something little, and if it leads to unnecessary conflict? I mean, I’m allowed to be frustrated or annoyed with the people around me, right? I’m not saying I pick a fight over the toilet seat being left up or the dirty dishes in the sink. But some of the simplest misunderstandings or miscommunications can lead to bigger issues or arguments. However small or insignificant a comment might seem to one person, they can still be hurtful to the other person. So, how small an issue am I allowed – or is anyone allowed – to be upset about? Is there a limit? Should there be?
I think sometimes there aren’t rules for this, or any measure really, because every person is different and every couple makes their own rules for their life together. The thing is always to keep talking and to not let these little things fester into something bigger.
Often, in my stories, and other authors’, that’s exactly what happens. Something small, maybe even said in passing, turns into this huge problem that sometimes seems insurmountable. Again, that brings me back to my point of what is realistic in a story. If these small things become big fights in real life – whether you can manage to work past it or not – why can’t it be a reasonable conflict in a romance you read?
All right, I’ve rambled on enough about that.
Guess what starts tomorrow?!?! You got it! NHL Playoffs, y’all! 😀
I’m going to go ahead and make everyone place bets here – for bragging rights, nothing more! Tell me who you’re cheering for and who you think will make it to the final two.
My own beloved team didn’t make it, again. *sigh* I think I’m going to cheer for my back-up team, the Penguins. 🙂 In the west, I might be able to get my cheer on for Nashville or St. Louis, because both teams have been so surprisingly good this year, and surprising always makes for some damn exciting playoffs. As for who will be in the final two… I guess I’ll go with Pittsburgh and St. Louis. Gah! It’s so hard to pick. We’ll all check back after the first round and revise our picks. 😉
Until then, take care and happy reading!