My NaNoWriMo Word Count Widgets!

Sunday, 24 July 2011

Key Questions and Story Baselines...

I've had an unproductive productive day today.  I might not have much written (a couple of hundred words at most, I haven't counted), but I've developed the structure of the book quite nicely.

I made a start on another of my reference books - The Story Book by David Baboulene.  It's very VERY technical but utterly brilliant.  It also nicely ties together psychology and writing - my two favourite subjects!  I never thought you could apply Maslow's Hierarchy of Needs to a storyline, but there you go.

After thinking carefully about the structure of my story, I've had to shuffle a few sections around, expand on a couple of points and add a new mini-chapter.  It will probably change again before I'm finished, but that's not a problem.  The idea is that you tell your story, THEN work on the structure.  I might not have the whole story written, but I have the main parts down on paper.  It's just linking it all together now....and that's where I need a solid structure.

So I've spent my afternoon looking at each section of my book and asking myself who the protagonist is, what their goal is, what is the inciting incident and, most importantly, what is the key question.  All this pulls together to make a good story (hopefully).

As a taster, here is my story baseline (apparently this is a handy document to have when you reach the stage of talking to publishers):

  • My book is called Hospital Corners.  It is literary fiction, set in Lovingdell General Hospital, a fictional hospital on the outskirts of Bath. 
  • My protagonist is Miss Esme Smith (75).  She has cut her arm while preparing dinner, and comes to the hosptial for treatment.  Her goal is to get home as quickly as possible.
  • The inciting incident occurs when her arm is examined and reveals an obvious history of deliberate self-harm, raising two key questions.
  1. Did she harm herself deliberately?
  2. Who is Miss Esme Smith?
  • Esme is opposed in her quest to go home by Dr Rosanna Blake.  At the start of the book, Dr B's goal is also to get home as quickly as possible.  She is impeded in her goal when she is asked to examine Esme.  She is then determined to find the answers to the two key questions.
  • At the resolution, both key questions are answered and both Esme and Dr B are able to go home. 
I'm now into the section on "knowledge gaps" which I'm sure will highlight many gaps in my own knowledge!

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