Number 41 — July 8, 2005
Suspense — Part 3

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I continue the subject of suspense looking at the practical interpretation of the meaning of the term. As I write, I attempt to be aware of the suspense questions I am trying to create. They must come to the reader's mind through the skill of my storytelling. The conflicts keep the reader's interest because they introduce suspense. If I hang my readers between a question and an answer, then I'll achieve suspense. This is difficult to incorporate into my work. As a wordsmith, I want to select exactly the right word, place it in exactly the right phrase, and create exactly the right scene, leaving the readers unable to resist the spell. It's magic, and I envy those who can do it with ease. But, I do not let such thoughts discourage me; my struggle to master suspense does not upset me. I have to work at it, but it is the carrot in front of my nose, motivating me onward until I write no more.
     Here is an example from my new novel Goad of Honor. This passage comes at the bottom of page 169.

     While driving home one evening, an inspiration came to Jakob in answer to the same nagging question. What could he do to express his thanks to Ben? Quigley objected to everything, but this was brilliant. Jakob wondered why he hadn't thought of it sooner. There would be no ceremony, no speeches, and no embarrassment. Nobody needed to know. He'd just slip it into Ben's pay envelope.

     My intended inference is this question: How much will Jakob give him? For the benefit of the readers of this article, Jakob is a millionaire miser who reveres money above all else? Benny is an illiterate security guard.
     The preceding paragraph ends a section. The next few pages deal with Benny coming home, telling his wife prohibition is over, and he won't have to work nights anymore. When he arrives home the pastor is there. I pick up the story again three pages later.

     Among the evidence where the pastor saw the hand of the Lord at work was the reward given to Benny for faithful service. No publicity accompanied the award; no ceremony took place. It was a small chit of paper, folded over twice to fit in his pay envelope for the first week of April 1933. Benny couldn't figure out what it was and took it home to Maude. It happened Pastor Reilly was visiting.
     "Pastor! Maybe you could help me. This here piece of paper come in my pay. What's it say?"
     Reilly almost broke out in song. He looked heavenward for an instant, smiling broadly.
     "Ben and Maude, this is a receipt from the company for your next year's rent."

     Notice the underlined words carry essentially the same message from the first passage to the second, which I intended as a reminder to the reader. The inference from the answer to the earlier question is that Jakob, the miser, didn't give him anything; the company gave it to him.
     Too subtle?

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Number 42 — July 15, 2005
Test Your Editing Skills — Part 1

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The time has come for a little fun. As it happens, our book-reading club selected the most poorly written book I have ever encountered, bar none. I will not name the book or the publisher, but I will say I am astounded that any publishing house would affix their name to such an inept product. Not only does it show poor authorial skill, but it establishes beyond doubt the publisher has no editing skill.
     Anyway, here's the fun part derived from the foregoing. I am going to give you the opportunity to test your editing skills. I offer a series of questions for your consideration. Here they are.

Question 1: The ordinary use of a comma is for separation of parts of a sentence, indicating to the reader that what follows the comma is related to what came before. In the case when two independent clauses are joined only by a comma, the result is called a comma splice. There are three ways to correct such an error. Here are three sentences with comma splices. Correct the sentences using a different technique in each case.

  • 1a: The car was worth restoring, the trailer was trash.
  • 1b: We're out of widgets, we expect more tomorrow.
  • 1c: Don't trust anyone under thirty, they're not as wise as they think.

Question 2: When too much information gets crowded into a sentence, the result is a run-on sentence. When not enough information is present, the result is a fragment. And two independent clauses without punctuation between them is a fused sentence. Here are six sentences; identify each type and correct the error.

  • 2a: You can bake oysters or fry them or steam them there are various options.
  • 2b: On the occasion that found him in Bordeau Jakob noticed a problem.
  • 2c: Or any time for that matter.
  • 2d: On the fourth of July in our neighborhood the kids went wild the fireworks display was called off because of rain.
  • 2e: A brush toothbrush comb and soiled tissue, nothing else.
  • 2f: On Tuesday late in the afternoon the manager said the lion escaped.

Question 3: What are the punctuation errors in the following sentences and why?

  • 3a: This is a list of items; item 1, item 2, and item3, and spare parts.
  • 3b: How was it Jane wore her raincoat.

Question 4: I'll end with a tricky set of sentences, telling you before hand that I have four children. Answer the questions and correct the punctuation where required.

  • 4a: My daughter, Sheila, married Paddy Cook. Question: How many daughters do I have? How did you tell?
  • 4b: My wife Mary was Rod's mother. Question: Have I had a second marriage? How do you know?
  • 4c: Rod parked and gave the keys to the attendant, who sat in the booth. Question: Is there more than one parking attendant? Why?
  • 4d; Archie arrived later and gave his keys to the attendant who sat in the booth. Same question: Is there more than one parking attendant? Why?

     Test yourself; see if you can determine the answer before reading on.

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Number 43 — July 22, 2005
Test Your Editing Skills — Part 2

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Here is my commentary dealing with last week's questions.

Number one:
     Three ways to correct a comma splice. Each sentence contains two independent clauses. An independent clause has a subject and a predicate and may stand by itself as a complete sentence. Three ways to correct a comma splice are: With a period, creating two sentences; with a conjunction, joining them; or with a semi-colon without a conjunction. My answers:

  • 1a: Separate into two sentences: The car was worth restoring. The trailer was trash. Why? Because I don't see any cause and effect relationship since restoring the car has no effect on the trailer.
  • 1b: Use a conjunction: We're out of widgets and we expect more tomorrow. Here, I see the same subject in each clause. I intended to include a cause and effect relationship thus justifying the conjunction, but as I look at it this week, making two sentences seems to flow better. (Nothing wrong in re-editing your editing.)
  • 1c: Use a semi-colon: Don't trust anyone under thirty; they're not as wise as they think. In this case, a semicolon signals the implicit relationship between the clauses. Try inserting a conjunction. None fit. Make the clauses two sentences and the link breaks, or at least, becomes less implicit.

Number 2:

  • 2a: You can bake oysters or fry them or steam them there are various options. This is a run-on sentence crying out for punctuation, so let's start there. You can bake oysters, or fry them, or steam them; there are various options. Word repetition rings an alarm in my mind. "Them" twice suggests this correction: You can bake, fry, or steam oysters; there are various options. The rearrangement reveals another sin—redundancy. The three verbs—bake, fry, steam—define the cooking choices. No need exists to tell the reader the obvious.
  • 2b: On the occasion that found him in Bordeau, Jakob noticed a problem. This is a fused sentence consisting of a phrase—words that do not qualify as a clause because they lack either a verb or a subject—and an independent clause. Separate the two parts of the sentence with a comma.
  • 2c: Or any time for that matter. This is a fragment. The best use of fragments is for emphasis. The context must define the intent. Use them wisely and sparingly.
  • 2d: On the fourth of July in our neighborhood the kids went wild the fireworks display was called off because of rain. This is a mixed-up sentence that falls into the category of run-on. To save the form of the sentence, I would insert a comma after neighborhood and a semi-colon after wild. A better solution is to put the fireworks first and use a conjunction. As for the eight words starting the sentence, I suggest using neighborhood as an adjective to qualify kids and July four as an adjective to qualify fireworks display. "The July-four fireworks display was called off because of rain and the neighborhood kids went wild." Now I have a clear cause and effect relationship with a conjunction joining two independent clauses.
  • 2e: A brush, toothbrush, comb and soiled tissue; nothing else. Another fragment sadly in need of punctuation.
  • 2f: On Tuesday late in the afternoon, the manager said the lion escaped. A run-on possibly yielding misunderstanding. It appears the manager announced late in the afternoon. But the meaning might be the lion escaped late in the afternoon. Insert a comma following afternoon and the confusion goes away.

     Gosh! I've used more than my allotted space. I'll finish next week.

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Number 44 — July 29, 2005
Test Your Editing Skills — Part 3

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Continuing my commentary on questions posed in article 42.

Number 3.
     I threw these into the mix because they represent two common errors that turn up all the time. 3a: the correct way to punctuate a list—the introductory statement ends with a full colon and a semicolon separates each item with a period after the last one. 3b: a frequent error is the omission of interrogation marks in statements of this kind.

  • 3a: It doesn't matter whether the list is linear or vertical, it punctuates the same way. This is a list of items: item 1; item 2; item 3; and spare parts. Or, this way. This is a list of items:
         Item 1;
         Item 2;
         Item 3;
         and spare parts. (The 'and' is optional, I think more commonly used in the linear case than the vertical.)
  • 3b: How was it Jane wore her raincoat? Sometimes a question is an exclamation, but I suggest omitting introductory interrogators like why, how, or what makes exclamations clearer. Punctuation makes a difference. "Jane wore a raincoat!" is not the same as "Jane wore a raincoat?" An actor speaking those two sentences would stress Jane in the first one and raincoat in the second. How would he know to do this? Because of the punctuation.

Number 4:
     Now we come to the tricky questions. I addressed this topic in Articles 5 and 6 of this series. If you couldn't answer these questions correctly, it would be a good idea to read those articles again.

  • 4a: My daughter, Sheila, married Paddy Cook. The inference is, I have only one daughter. Setting the name off in commas makes the information non-restrictive, that is informative. If I wrote, "My daughter married Paddy Cook," somebody who knew me would not need to be told that her name is Sheila because they would know she is my only daughter. For those who don't know me, the non-restrictive construction of this sentence says, "and by the way, her name is Sheila."
  • 4b: My wife Mary was Rod's mother. In this case the name Mary is not set off with commas, hence it is restrictive identifying which of my wives bore Rod. (I lied; Mary and I have been happily married for 56 years.)
  • 4c: Rod parked and gave the keys to the attendant, who sat in the booth. Only one attendant is in the lot; the comma makes the information following it non-restrictive—that is informative—and identifies the attendant who happened to be sitting in the booth.
  • 4d: Archie arrived later and gave his keys to the attendant who sat in the booth. In this case, more than one attendant is present; the lack of commas makes the phrase restrictive, identifying which of the attendants got the keys. Isn't English a fun Language to learn?
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Number 45 — August 5, 2005
Parenthetical Interjections

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A parenthetical part of a sentence is one which is not necessary for the sentence to make sense. Or to put it another way, removing it would leave the sense of the sentence unchanged. Let's explore this a little by looking at a short paragraph from my new book, Goad of Honor. (Note that I separated the title by inserting a comma because it is non-restrictive. By definition, I can only have one new book at a time. Therefore, including the name of the book is informative. Had I written … from my book Goad of Honor … it would have been restrictive—not set off by commas—because it identifies which of my six books I referenced.) The last comment is a sentence presented as a parenthetical element. Why? Because, as theater people say, it is an aside; a momentary departure from the main theme or subject of the paragraph of which it is a part. (In passing, I want to point out that a parenthetical element that is a sentence has the final punctuation mark enclosed by the brackets. Otherwise, the period would be outside the brackets if the element ended a sentence.)
     Now, study the preceding paragraph from an editing view point. It consists of 183 words with 45% (82 words) enclosed in brackets. What writing sin have I committed? Examine the first sentence of the paragraph and you should see the problem. A reader expects to find the main theme of a paragraph in the first sentence, subconsciously asking, "What is this paragraph about?" In this case, the reader expects a discussion about parenthetical parts of a sentence. However, in writing the paragraph I put apples, oranges and bananas in the same barrel by mixing three topics:

  1. I began with an introduction suggesting a dissertation on parenthetical parts of a sentence as my topic;
  2. I digressed to a comment about a non-restrictive elements;
  3. And threw in a second digression with a comment about punctuation.

     This leads to a general rule: Keep parenthetical interjections short. When they become long-winded, they may be diversionary and off-subject. In such a case, consider separate paragraphs each dealing with its own topic. I should restructure the whole mess, making it at least two paragraphs. Back to parenthetical considerations.
     I opened Goad on page 110 and found the following paragraph.

     Gino estimated the service and the eulogies at forty-five minutes. To be on the safe side, he would have to be back in his pew in thirty minutes; thirty-five max. If the nameless guy—whoever he was—didn't show, Gino wasn't waiting.

     I used em dashes to set off the diversion. What other choices did I have? Answer: commas and brackets.

     If the nameless guy, whoever he was, didn't show, Gino wasn't waiting.
     If the nameless guy (whoever he was) didn't show, Gino wasn't waiting.

     My analysis. The brackets are awkward in that they act like trip wires to the reader's eyes; they simply don't look right. Rewrite without the brackets and the sentence still makes sense, but something is lost. If the nameless guy didn't show, Gino wasn't waiting. So, the choice is between commas and dashes. I decide which depending on the message I want to deliver; commas are less emphatic than dashes.
     Scan the paragraph. "Gino estimated …" tells the reader we are inside Gino's head reading his thoughts. The words "safe side" suggest danger. The next words set up a time element. Then, he realizes he doesn't even know the name of his accomplice.
     I chose dashes because they are speed bumps that jolt the reader in a way that commas cannot, keeping the tension in the scene. If I wanted a casual interjection, I would use commas.

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Number 46 — August 12, 2005
Self-publishing Discipline

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Everybody writes differently. Ask any group to write on a specific event with which all the members are familiar and no two responses will be identical. Ask the same group to write the answer to this problem: 2 + 2 = ? Ninety-nine times out of one hundred, every person in the group will respond 4. On the remaining occasion, one person will make a different response and that person is the only one who is not hidebound by the rules drilled into us since birth.
     An infinite number of answers to the problem exist. All of them are correct. For example, 2 + 2 = 8 - 4; 2 + 2 = 100 / 25; or even an algebraic expression provides a response; (x + y)
2 when x = 1 and y = 1. Let me hasten to add that in my eighty years of life, I cannot recall an incident when I felt the need to respond to the question with any other answer except 4, but that is not the point. I present this absurd example only as an illustration of how traditional and mechanical our responses become. When we translate that idea to creative writing, we discover despite the differences of wording in the articles we asked the group to write, a remarkable similarity of ideas and expressions emerge. I conclude one of our goals as writers is to escape the bonds of rote response without thought. Writers that learn to consider other choices will have a better chance for success, possibly becoming famous authors, while the rest of us will meander on in our mediocre way. I do not intend that as a criticism, but rather as a realism.
     One of the oft-repeated ways of leaping this hurdle is to read the work of others. "See how others do it" is a maxim widely accepted on its intrinsic merit. But what if I'm not a "reader." The standing joke in our family is if Daddy goes to bed with TIME magazine, he'll be asleep before he finishes the first word on the cover. I don't mean to imply I don't read anything. Sure, I do. Three or four novels a year perhaps, as opposed to my wife who may read that many in a week. Still, I am a writer; not famous, of course, and never will be, but a writer nonetheless. The question is, how did I do it?
     The answer is discipline. As an engineer with a proclivity for numbers, I applied myself to learning the rules in the same way I learned the rules of mathematics and science. Grammar to me is all-important. The fewer rules I break, the better my writing will be. Therefore, I have to know the rules, or to phrase it differently, I must settle on a style I can understand and work with. This is a matter self-published writers may ignore. The relative ease and low-cost of self-publishing has produced a vast array of authors, but much of their work lacks discipline. In the work that comes to me, I see both grammatical errors and style variations that are inexcusable regardless of whether the author read every book in the library, or experienced a life-time of limited exposure to comic books.
     Editors in the offices of traditional publishers spend untold hours inspecting the work that bears their imprint. A self-published book seldom receives editing at all, never mind a detailed examination. Editing is time consuming and therefore expensive, which means neglected by those who edit their own work. The lack of editing is the most serious condemnation of self-publishing.
     Before closing my business, I offered a cost-effective review and comment service in which I examined samples of work to identify places where the author should consider revisions. Very few people subscribed. I concluded that even at my low price, self-publishers did not see a need for editing. How wrong they are?
     I believe errors found in the first twenty or so pages generally repeat throughout the work. When the author knows what to look for, then it is possible to find and correct errors without paying somebody to identify each one individually.

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Number 47 — August 19, 2005
Writing Style

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This week, I address the topic of style. I begin with definitions of the word style as found in my Merriam-Webster Collegiate Dictionary, Tenth Edition that apply to creative writing.

  1. A distinctive manner of expression (as in writing or speech); writes with more attention to style than to content; the flowery style of eighteenth century prose;
  2. a particular manner or technique by which something is done, created, or performed; a unique style of horseback riding; the classical style of dance.

     Arbitrarily, I will use the term voice to mean "a distinctive manner of expression." And the term to mean "a particular manner or technique by which something (writing in this case) is done, created, or performed."
     We often hear the admonition, "write as you talk." I think that adage applies only to freewriting, if it applies at all. If you doubt that statement, tape one of your conversations. Unless you are the exception, the playback will shock you. You will find hesitations galore in the form of ums, ers and aws, frequent grammatical errors, poor word choice, and many repetitions of "you know," or the equivalent. I conclude no relationship exists between the "way you talk" and your writing voice any more than exists between apples and oranges.
     So what is a writing voice? It may have as much to do with how you handle grammar as anything else. My example is Mark Twain, one of the best dialect writers of all-time. What makes his work such a pleasure to read? It's his style even when the dialect is ungrammatical and words misspelled. Few if any can match his skill, but that does not mean we do not have a writing voice.
     I am convinced voice comes from style. When I look back at the books I published in 1999, I find they are not much different from the book I published two months ago. I can identify a likeness in sentence structure, word choice, and verb usage; in summary most of the stylistic parts of my writing remain unchanged, or at best, only slightly modified.
     I think two developments have occurred. The first is my knowledge of story structure has improved. I have a better understanding of the mechanics of storytelling and in particular the use of the "goals versus obstacles breed conflict that leads to resolution" formula. (See Article 30.) The other major contributing reason for my improvement is my study of grammar that comes from my creative writing workshops and writing these articles. I know my efforts helped a few people, but nobody benefits as much as I do. The result shows in my work. Goad of Honor garnered some rewarding comments from early readers. They come from family and friends, so I discount the praise and will not repeat them, with one exception; a remark from my brother.
     "All your books are the same," he said, "but this one is much better."
     When I challenged him on his intent, he had some trouble explaining, which meant he couldn't pinpoint the difference yet he was aware of it. 'All your books are the same' told me he heard the same writing voice telling the story. 'But this one is much better' told me my efforts to improve my style have yielded results.
     So I say to writers everywhere, if your goal is improvement, work on style.

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Number 48 — August 26, 2005
Character Interactions

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A careless fault that sometimes creeps into stories is character inconsistency. This may happen when the author speaks instead of characters, who do not necessarily reflect author's views. When the two are in opposition, the character loses out. Whatever characters do must be within their physical limitations; whatever they say must be consistent within their own ethical and moral beliefs.
     Imagine your characters' world surrounded by a barrier. A virus lurks outside the perimeter. That virus is the author who must be kept out of the story. (Remember show, don't tell?) To express the author's attitude or creed, model at least one character after the author so any reader, not knowing the author, will not find inconsistencies in the portrayal.
     This raises the problem of analyzing social interactions of individuals in the story. One way to do it is to consider benefits and costs. To understand this technique, we must first define the terms.
     A benefit of an act—I include both character's words and deeds—is the gain to the individual who performs it. The range of benefits is limitless. For instance: monetary gain; prestige enhancement; power position; emotional gains like love, companionship, contentment; and many more. The cost of an act is the loss to the individual who is the recipient of it. The same classifications as for benefits apply here except in the negative sense; loss of wealth, prestige, power, love, and so on. Every interaction involves two individuals; the DOER and the RECEIVER. Since each of these may benefit from or pay for an act, four possibilities exist:

  1. Both the doer and the receiver benefit;
  2. The doer benefits and the receiver suffers a cost;
  3. The receiver benefits and the doer suffers a cost;
  4. And both parties suffer a cost.

     Each of these interactions will require a different treatment regarding character's movements, words, and emotions. To categorize these, I'll give them the following names:

 Act benefits
Act costs
Act benefits
Act costs

     To understand how an author uses this concept, let's consider a scene between Jerry and Lois alone in their apartment. They watch the late news. He clicks off the TV. They sit in the semi-darkness and begin to discuss their circumstances.
     Now, author, STOP! Ask yourself the type of interaction that will take place in this scene. The question is, who acts in their own interest?

  1. Cooperative: Both benefit, suggesting they reconcile their differences. For instance, he benefits through counseling for his drug problem and she gains stability in her marriage.
  2. Selfish: Jerry announces his purchase of an expensive automobile, forcing Lois to abandon her dream of buying a family home.
  3. Altruistic: Jerry declines an advantageous career move, reducing his prospects for future promotion, while Lois gains the opportunity to further her career.
  4. Spiteful: Both parties suffer a cost, suggesting either a temporary or permanent disruption in some aspect of their association.

     Classifying character interaction is a tool to give direction to a scene and to keep character's words and deeds consistent.

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Number 49 — September 2, 2005
Story Structure — Part 1

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This week I begin a short series on the structure of a story. I'll start with a 2,000-word story that I stripped down to about 600 words. The take-home message is this: If your story includes goals, obstacles, conflict, surprise, emotion and pace, you may be on your way to becoming a wonderful storyteller. If you are a good storyteller, you can be a good writer, but it is more difficult because verbal presentations do not demand the discipline of prose. Here's the story. I'll discuss the format next week.


     In the cold of winter when the days were short, before sunrise my sister, Esther, and I would leave on our four-mile trek to school. One cold morning, I trudged on with my head down against the blowing snow when I turned to see her a long way behind. [Focus: setting the scene.]
     "Come on, Esther," I said, "we're going to be late for school." [Goal 1.]
     "I don't care," she said. "My feet are frozen. I can't walk any more. Carry me." [Obstacle 1.]
     "Carry you! I can't carry you. I've got your books, your lunch, and your extra shoes; I can't carry any more." [Conflict 1: Goal versus obstacle causes conflict.]
     "Well, I guess I'm going to die right here. Frozen to death in the snow; that's what they'll say at my funeral."
     She looked like an angel, her eyes glistening with tears, her steamy breathe freezing a halo on her woolen hat. [Emotion: He loves his sister.] A smile crossed her face as if her tears washed away the cold. [Scene shift 1: surprise.]
     "Elijah! Do you remember last summer when we saw the old man in the ditch all bent over?"
     "I remember. I asked him what he was doing."
     "That's right," Esther said. "He was picking up sticks and throwing them over his shoulder. He looked at you like you were a dumb kid. He said any fool could see he was picking up sticks."
     "What for?" I asked.
     "And he said he was looking for magic sticks."
     "One after another, he picked up a stick and threw it away. Then he found one he turned every which way and told us it wasn't any good because it had only one magic."
     "That's right. I pleaded with him to let me have it." She knelt down in front of me, begging just as she did that day. "Please! Please, let me have it." [Goal 2.]
     The old man scowled at her and said, "What for? It's only got one magic." [Obstacle 2.]
     I didn't believe anything the old man said. But Esther was bursting to get that stick so I asked the old man how come it was magic when all the others he threw away weren't. He held it under my nose.
     "'Cause it's got this here bump on it."
     It looked like any other old stick to me.
     "I see it," Esther said. "Oh! Let me have it, please."
     He handed it to her. "T'ain't no good, it's only got one w i s h in it. Soon as you say that word, won't be no use no more."
     Esther put her hand on the stick. "Faith," she said. "I wish—"
     The stick flew in the air and disappeared. [Surprise 2.]
     I forgot about the crazy old man, but Esther didn't. She saved that magic stick in her heart. [Resolution of conflict 2.]
     [Return to the original scene.] Standing in the snow two miles from school, she'd forgotten the cold. She wore a blissful smile like the Mona Lisa with her eyes shut. [Emotion: His love for his sister again.]
     "All right, Essie", I said, "I'll carry you. But tomorrow, if it's cold like this, we're bringing the sled so I can haul you."
     She climbed on my back. [Resolution of conflict 1.]
     "Elijah. You're so good to me. I wish we were already at school—" [Crucial Event.]
     The instant she said wish, I fell to the ground with a terrible thud. She crashed down on top of me; almost broke my neck. I could see stars. [Climax.]
     I caught my breath and looked up. I'd struck my head on the threshold of the schoolhouse door.
     Do you wish you had faith like my sister?. You can, if you try. [Story resolution.]

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Number 50 — September 9, 2005
Story Structure — Part 2

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Last week I showed a simple example of the anatomy or structure of a story. I condensed it, omitted exposition, and identified the critical elements. I diagramed the story form in condensed graphical form on the next page. Such presentations have an inherent danger in that they may be taken literally instead of schematically. Before you study the graph, read on for an explanation of its intent.
     I do not mean to suggest a rigid structure. On the contrary, story structure is flexible, but nonetheless it does have elements that authors should keep in mind. I have written about these before in this series, but a reminder might be in order.

     First, and very important, is to let the reader know the story problem. What is the situation these people are trying to resolve? Although not all instructors agree, I contend that the "focus" of the story should be identified early. By focus, I mean time, place and problem.
     Then, move to events using scenes and sequels, each incorporating the basic writing formula: Goal versus obstacle breeds conflict that leads to action and results in resolution. Along the way, emotion is critical to good storytelling. And then comes surprise; something unexpected leads to a turning point and the story moves in a new direction. This sequence repeats throughout the story with each conflict requiring a resolution. In the graphic, I have shown the resolutions at the end, but that also is flexible. The only one that must occur at the end is the resolution of the story problem—the climax—which is preceded by the crucial event—after the last turning point (second in the graphic). The reader must be made aware of how these people resolved this problem. And it also involves change in attributes by at least one character. Going back to the welder in Article 11, he either gives up his hopes of forming his own company, or Mrs. Welder changes her attitude and accepts her husband's dream.
     My final comment is to not leave conflicts unresolved. A recent letter from a reader of Goad of Honor had this to say: " . . . as with any good novel, the loose ends are tied up very nicely."

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