I am all about passing on good information when I find it and I am also, at this point, a card carrying member of the Larry Brooks fan club. It’s a dynamite combination.
That Larry sure knows how to put together a story.
Jamie and I have written many times about Larry’s story construction books (let me just say that if you don’t have them in your library, you should.)
Now I’m not going to go into the pantser vs plotter controversy here (by the way I am firmly in the plotter camp) but I am going to tell you about the brilliance of doing at least some planning (aka plotting.)
Or at least being aware of how planning and structure is used in a story.
Larry explains the technique brilliantly. In a recent post, on The Kill Zone titled: The Two Minute Writing Workshop Already At Your Fingertips, Larry uses a highly available tool (movie trailers) to teach the difference between concept and First Plot Point.
Larry walks us through his first two examples, a recent Jack Reacher trailer (by the way I am just now getting into Jack Reacher books, where have I been to be missing out on Jack all this time?!) We read about the trailer’s plot structure and then we see it.
Larry then uses a trailer from the 2011 movie The Help. Again we read about the structure and are able to see how it is effectively used to explain and sell the story.
The post is a clever read along while someone sings the words.
BUT… it’s in the final two examples that Larry hits the ball out of the park. He includes an early working trailer for the Disney movie – Tomorrowland and then compares it to the final finished product.
It would be near impossible after seeing those two trailers to not understand the importance and placement of the first plot point. The first trailer is all about concept. The second trailer introduces a problem that must be fixed.
It is only when the problem is inserted that things get interesting.
This needs to be repeated: It is only when the problem is inserted that things get interesting.
And guess what? When you understand story structure, not only will you be able to plan your story, but (and this is important so pay attention) YOU’LL BE ABLE TO DESCRIBE YOUR STORY which will be imperative if you are ever asked to pitch your work. (It’s that ‘ole elevator speech that agents so love to hear.)
Every story must a problem that launches the plot. If it doesn’t, I don’t want to hear about it (and more importantly no one will want to read it.) That problem-less story will die a painful death.
After reading Larry’s post, do yourself a favor and follow his suggestion – go to YouTube and spend a few “two minutes” learning about concept *and* First Plot Point by watching some movie trailers.
It will be time well spent.
Wendy Thomas is an award winning journalist, columnist, and blogger who believes that taking challenges in life will always lead to goodness. She is the mother of 6 funny and creative kids and it is her goal to teach them through stories and lessons.
Wendy’s current project involves writing about her family’s experiences with chickens (yes, chickens). (www.simplethrift.wordpress.com) She writes about her chickens for GRIT, Backyard Poultry, Chicken Community, and Mother Earth News.