By: Larry Brooks @storyfix
Unless something really cool or scary happens, a novel about what happened on your summer vacation probably isn’t going to work.
Yes, “Summer of ’42” (a film based on a memoir by American screenwriter Herman Raucher) was a modern classic. But really, did you fall in love with a married hottie like Jennifer O’Neal during your summer of “42?
Didn’t think so.
“Saving Private Ryan,” episodic as it was, wasn’t just a cinematic stage upon which the storytellers sought to illustrate the daily grind of Tom Hanks and Company as they plodded across the French countryside. Yes, it was indeed harrowing and scary – also totally linear, and thus, episodic – but that was never the literary point of it all.
It was never the story.
Saving a U.S. solider named Ryan, for reasons that bore significant emotional weight, was the point of it all. The mission had stakes. It gave us a reason to root for the hero as those episodic scenes ticked off.
As an author, you need to be clear on that same dynamic –the relationship between your scenes and the higher, broader arc of your story. The latter is what fuels the former.
Your scenes depend on, and are trumped by, the context of stakes and ultimate purpose, rather than the in-the-moment experience. (Writers of epic battles and long days on the trail, take note here.)
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If you missed my writing & marketing tweets and retweets yesterday, here they are again:
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- The Key to Writing an Inherently Episodic Story… Effectively http://ow.ly/s6A8P @storyfix