Wednesday, January 2, 2013

Make Your Story Matter

Lately I've been reading lots of articles and insights into story structure.  Have you come across the 3 Act Plan, or the Skeleton or maybe the Hero's Journey?  Well I've decided that all of these "plans" don't mean a thing if your story doesn't matter.  Readers don't care if your work follows the 3 Act Plan.  If they care about the story, then they will keep reading.  So how do you make your readers care?  I took a look at the timeless tale of Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte for some inspiration.
Peggy Ann Garner in the 1943 version
1. Hook:  Grab your reader from the very start.  Show your protagonist in their state of normal but them give a glimpse of an upcoming transformation.  From the very beginning we care about Jane Eyre.  She is an orphan living in a house where she is hated and treated cruelly but she is strong and suborn and dreams of a better life.  Form the start, the reader has a promise that something better is in store for Jane.   
Toby Stephens and Ruth Wilson in the 2006 version
2.  Create a Crisis:  Turn the protagonist's world upside down in a way that can't be immediately resolved.  The best way to do this is by taking something away from our hero and dangling it just out of reach.  For Jane, this happens when she is just about to marry Mr. Rochester and make all her dreams come true and then learns that he is already married.  This problem is one that is not going anywhere anytime soon. 
Mia Wasikowska in the 2011 version
3.  Take Steps to Solve the Crisis:  The protagonist them takes transformative steps to solve the crisis that leads to a greater change.  Our hero will never be the same.  Once Jane learns the truth, she runs away, adopts a new name and starts a new life so that Mr. Rochester won't find her and tempt her into a life of immorality.  Her life is never the same.
Zelah Clarke and Timothy Dalton in the 1983 version
4.  Metamorphosis:  The protagonist makes a life changing discovery that is followed by a critical decision.  This decision changes the game and leads to a final metamorphosis.  This will either result in some kind of death but more often than not, it leads to a new life that resolves the story and establishes a new normal.  Jane realizes that she is irrevocably connected to Mr. Rochester and he needs her.  She decides to leave her newly found cousins, reject an offer of marriage and go back to Mr. Rochester.  He is now single and blind and Jane stats her happily ever after with him.
Anna Paquin in the 1996 version
 Making your readers care is so much more important than following a structure formula.  Because readers care, Jane Eyre's story has been read for over 150 years and it has seen many a film adaption.  Is it because Jane Eyre follows the perfect 3 Act Formula?  No it's because we as the reader care.   


Leyla Brooke said...

new follower, so glad I found your blog I love reading!

Leti Del Mar said...

Glad you like it! I'm checking out your site now!

Angie Ouellette-Tower said...

You have a wonderful blog!! I'm your newest follower from the "Aloha Friday" blog hop - this is my blog if you wanted to follow back:

Leti Del Mar said...

Thanks for the follow. I've followed you back. I'm a horrible gardener but hope to improve with your site.

Amy said...

Interesting post,I enjoyed reading it..
Visiting you via Aloha Friday,and I am your new GFC follower....
would love if you visit my blog

Leti Del Mar said...

Glad you liked it. Thanks for the follow! I've followed you right back.

SimplyyMayra said...

Hola Leti!
Stopping by via Aloha Friday and left you some GFC love and support! I too am co-hosting and am now your newest reader #63! Congratz! Looking forward to getting to know more about you and yours.

~SimplyyMayra of
PonderWonders at

Leti Del Mar said...

Thanks for the support! I've already followed your blog. hurray for Latinas blogging!

Brittney D said...

Hi Leti! I am co-hosting the Aloha blog hop as well! Lovely blog, new follower:)

Leti Del Mar said...

Thanks! I've followed you as well.

Tamara Woods said...

Aloha Leti! I found you via the Aloha hop, and I followed you because I like your point of view on writing. Feel free to check out mine: Take care!

Leti Del Mar said...

Hello! I'm glad you liked the post and hop you continue stopping by for more. Mahalo for the follow! I've followed you back.

BOOKWORM said...

Glad to see your post Leti. A structure won't produce a good novel. It will create a good story. But it is the way of telling and the music of words that make a reader care.
Happy blogging!

Leti Del Mar said...

You get it! That is exactly what I was trying to say. Thanks for following my blog!