July 9th, 2010


Things I Tweeted Today

Today I used my bandwidth to say:

  • 07:16 Contemplating buying a floor AC unit this weekend. Me and about a million other people in the area, I suspect. #
  • 10:23 Working on LJ post on story structure and what makes a story "work". If you've got ?s about that you want me to touch on, ask now. #
  • 19:19 Posted piece on Google and Facebook on daniweb.com - www.daniweb.com/forums/thread295346.html #
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two heads

Stories as Arrangements of Patterns

One of the things I like about teaching is that it makes you think about the things you're trying to teach. In the first Writing F&SF class, I asked the class what makes a story a good one - how do we know it's good? Answers included a world so well constructed you can sense it; immersion in the text to the point you forget you're reading; something you can identify with.

All of those are fine and true answers, but it occurred to me they point to something beyond that: a story must consist of a pleasing set of patterns, ones that fill it out and create its shape. For example, tension must rise and end in a climactic moment. The point of view must not change or at least do it in a meaningful way. What's allowable in the world of the story is usually set up in the first few paragraphs and they usually echo or foreshadow the main source of conflict in the story. For me, thinking about patterns and the shape of the story is a crucial component of my writing process.

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