Here’s an amazing truth: perhaps the most illuminating, valuable, and directly transferable – to the act of writing itself – thing an author can do in the pursuit of an understanding of how stories are developed and implemented. Which is… to tear apart – to deconstruct – a novel or film that is judged worthy of study, based either on critical or commercial acclaim.
Today’s deconstructed story is backed by both.
I mention film in the same breath as novels for two reasons: novelists can learn just as much from a good film as they can from a good movie (if you don’t buy that, then chances are you don’t believe in something called story structure, either, so never mind), at least relative to narrative flow and dramatic efficacy, and doing so only takes two hours, versus the 6 to 10 hours it takes (at least for me) to work my way through the latest Grisham.
Of course, just like doing exploratory surgery or trying to find the Titanic (back when that hadn’t been done), it helps when one knows what to look for.
When you do know what to look for, and you use that as context for a deep dive into successful stories, you have the means to send your learning curve vertical in short order.
If the principles of story structure and dramatic/character arcs are calling to you, or refusing to accept your rejection of them, or are already helping you but you’d like more… today’s post (and the links) are for you.
One of the major little-guy-wins-big writing stories of the past few years is The Martian…
… published by Andy Weir in 2009. There’s a really rewarding writer’s backstory about how he took this from an unambitious series of blog posts to a free self-published Kindle to the best-selling 99-cent Kindle ever, leading (unsolicited) to an agent and a six-figure advance, and then (four days after that news hit) to a movie deal. The fruit of which is still playing at a theater near you.
If you’d like that backstory, click HERE (so I don’t have to repeat it… you’ll be taken to my website for a post that covers that ground). But…
… don’t stay there for long, unless you encounter the forthcoming link, there, before you get to the next sentence, here. Because the real gold – the deconstruction itself, in exquisite structural and narrative detail – is in another Storyfix post… which you can read HERE.
As a student of the craft of writing fiction, I think you’ll find this a worthwhile exercise. One that will nourish both your wellspring craft, but your continuing hunger for it.