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W is for “Wired” and “Writer’s”
Book: Wired for Story: The Writer’s Guide to Using Brain Science to Hook Readers from the Very First Sentence by Lisa Cron
My dice roll: 221 (ebook location out of 4030)
Lesson: What a story is.
“A story is how what happens affects someone who is trying to achieve what turns out to be a difficult goal, and how he or she changes as a result.”
Plot is what happens; it’s the issue that keeps the protagonist from the goal.
The protagonist is the someone.
A goal is a story question.
The change is what it’s all about.
Readers want to experience how it feels to be in the situation, all from the safety of their reading spot.
Here’s an example of this lesson using my Fractions of Existence book.
The plot is that Xavier needs to reunite his kind, but he doesn’t know where to look or why they’re separated.
The protagonist is Xavier.
The story question is “will Xavier reunite his kind in time to prevent the apocalypse?”
The change is when Xavier decides he’d rather the world ends than risk Gwendolyn’s happiness.
Fractions of Existence is a story where Xavier needs to reunite his kind, but doesn’t know where to look or why they’re separated, and this affects Xavier, who is trying to achieve what turns out to be the difficult goal of reuniting his kind in time to prevent the apocalypse, and then he changes his mind, deciding he’d rather the world ends than risk Gwendolyn’s happiness.
The plot is then that Gwendolyn leaves her life to be with Xavier, but it’s a struggle to get there.
The protagonist is Gwendolyn.
The story question is “will she make it, and, if so, will he keep her?” (One could argue the bigger question is “what are they”…)
The change is when Gwendolyn climbs out of her shell and bravely crosses the country to get to Xavier, not knowing if he’s even still interested.
The second half of Fractions of Existence is a story about Gwendolyn leaving her life to be with Xavier, and the struggle to get there, which affects Gwendolyn, who is trying to achieve what turns out to be a difficult goal of making it across the country to man she’s not even still sure wants her there, and how the journey changes her as she climbs out of her shell to take the road-trip.
In Fractions of Existence, Xavier needs to reunite his kind, but he doesn’t know where to look or why they’re separated. He needs them to reunite in time to prevent the apocalypse. He changes his mind when he gets to know Gwendolyn, the missing one he sought, who has no idea what she is. He decides he’d rather let the world end than risk Gwendolyn’s happiness by ripping her life apart. The second half is about Gwendolyn leaving her life to be with Xavier and her struggle to get there. She crosses the country alone, still unaware of what she is, to reach a man she’s not even sure still wants her there— a journey that requires her to climb out of her shell.
Does that story sound interesting? Have you ever broken down one of your stories this way?
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