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Story Building 7: The Block

Are you sick of plotting yet?  I certainly am.  I’ve almost come to the place where I’m going to start writing, even if I don’t have all the details figured out.  I feel stuck, mired in the mud, and I need progress.  Again, we come back to “do what works for you.”  If the process becomes painful, boring, or tedious, why are you still doing it?  However, I know from past experience that if I rush too much, I’ll have more revisions to make in order to tighten the story up.  The more thinking and planning I do now, the better the first draft will be.  I don’t want to spend a year revising this story — in fact, I’d really be happy if I could submit it by the end of the year.  (That’s my unofficial goal.)

Loosely, this stage ties to the spreadsheets I showed in the last post — but they’re not quite exactly the way I was taught by the Witch.  Originally, I learned to take a story and break it into 10 chunks, called blocks since they’re the building blocks of the story.  Act 1 contains 3 blocks, Act 2 contains 5, and Act 3 contains 2.  The hero’s journey lies very nicely on top of the blocks:

  • Block 1 = Ordinary World
  • Block 3 = Accepting the Call – ending with Crossing the First Threshold into Act 2.
  • Block 4 (first block of Act II) – Confrontation, Tests, Allies
  • Block 6 = Approach Innermost Cave
  • Block 7 = Dark Moment
  • Block 8-9 = Climax, turning point into Act 3.
  • Block 9 = Climax 2
  • Block 10 = Resolution

This helps you define the structure and pacing of the story and for the most part, this really resonates with me.  Where I ran into problems (creating those spreadsheets) was with the Maya thriller, where I had three major story lines all converging in the last half/third of the book.  I needed a bit more space to keep track of what was happening — so I technically added more “blocks” to the Acts.  It was more of a spacing/usability decision than a structure decision — I couldn’t fit all the details I needed into 2 tiny columns (blocks) for Act 3!

The point I’m trying to make is that structure is well and good — but it should be fluid and flexible too.  If the story you’re writing feels like it needs 3 blocks for Act 3 instead of 2, who cares.  The important part is that you recognize Act 3 should be roughly the last 1/4 of the story and should move very, very quickly.  Act 2 should be the meatiest and encompasses roughly 50% of your story.  Exactly how many blocks that means is up to you.  So feel free to modify this process for yourself, and for each book.

With Victor’s story, I don’t need nearly as much space to write out the rough details of the Block.  I only have 2 POVs.  I have the main story line of Victor and Shiloh’s romance, wound into the premise of the story, that it takes place on a reality show.  I have a subplot about an industry spy.  And that’s it!  The real meat of the story is the relationship and the conflicts that arise because of the show — which feeds directly into the romance, because Shiloh crafted this show down to the littlest detail, for him.

One fun thing that can help you think about structure and story at the same time is to NAME the blocks something meaningful to you and the story.  I had the idea this morning that I should base the blocks on the idea of episode titles for the show.  Not all of them are show titles, but this will definitely give you an idea of what kind of story this is going to be.

Block One – The Pitch

Block Two – Try Outs

Block Three – Premiere

Block Four – Serving Your Master

Block Five – Loving Your Master

Block Six – Do You Know Your Master’s Hand?

Block Seven – At Your Master’s Pleasure…or Displeasure

Block Eight – Miss Belle’s Thanksgiving

Block Nine – Coming Out Ball

Block Ten – V’s Gift

2 thoughts on “Story Building 7: The Block

  1. […] This post was mentioned on Twitter by joelysue. joelysue said: New post: Story Building 7: The Block ( […]

  2. Nope not sick of plotting. I’m doing my first NaNoWriMo this year so all this is happening at the perfect time for me. Love the idea of naming the blocks!

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