Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Stories and Jenga

You know the game. Stack 54 wooden blocks in a tall criss cross pattern and then take turns trying to pull out a block. Without letting the tower fall over.

It's full of tension. Suspense. Aggravation. Disappointment. Hmmmm sounds an awful lot like a good story.

A story has a basic structure: Beginning, middle and end.
It also has some important elements: Plot, theme, setting.
Then you have what makes it special: Emotion, tension, suspense.

Take away any one of these elements and you have an "eh" book (Although I've seen some brilliant ones pull it off, though I can't for the life of me figure out how they did it. Which is to say...why they're called brilliant.)

Take out the Plot? *cue toppling of tower* (unless your book is Portrait of a Lady and then you'll be studied in British Literature where many a student will scratch their head and either hate you or hug you.) Or maybe you could just take out the ending, in which case you'll be like Thomas Hardy and everyone in British Literature will call you a cheater. Except you'll be a beautiful cheater.

When I think of Plot I think of all the key sequence of events that comprise my story. Take out one of them and you spend the next week rearranging all your events. It can be kind of cool actually. Messing with people's lives is great that way. And no one gets hurt. Except your characters, and well that's kind of the point.

We like reading about other people's lives and seeing how they deal with things. It gives us ideas of our own...without having to pull out a piece and watch our world come crashing in on us. It's much safer to watch someone else do it and learn from their mistakes.

Reading is so awesome that way. Writing is even better. I love trying out new plots, new theories, and meeting new people. *waves to characters* *they wave back because if they don't they know I'll off them in the next book* :)

What about you? What do you think one of the most important elements of writing is? What do you struggle with the most? What author do you wish you could write like and why?


  1. Great post!

    Gosh, I'm such a plot driven writer, so I have to *force* myself to focus on character. And my fav author is Diana Gabaldon... the way she makes everything so REAL... it's incredible. :D

    1. *looks up Diana Gabaldon* I love learning about new authors! Thanks Morgan!

  2. What a fun analogy! I would love to write like Gertrude Chandler Warner (Boxcar Children) or Enid Blyton (Famous Five). I strive for it every day...

    1. Awesome Sharon! We have a few Boxcar Children at our house (the books, not the children. :))


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