Rewrite – structure

The next stage of the rewrite. Recapping briefly, I am rewriting a short story. I have selected a set of 6 stages of rewriting – understandability, structure, character, dialogue, style, polish. Yesterday was understandability, so today I focus on structure.

If you search for terms about story structure there are thousands. Story structure at it’s simplest might be attributed to Aristotle’s “whole” having a “beginning, middle and end”. I prefer something slightly less nebulous, so I am using Nigel Watts 8 point guide. There are many other guides, but I had to start somewhere. I won’t describe them in detail but suggest reading the link or making an Internet search.

My short story in this case – woman chased by men, runs down haunted path, meets stranger, attacked by evil spirit – has a limited breadth to cover the 8 points in detail. In terms of ‘Stasis’, my story only suggests the every day life with hindsight. The start of the story, with the woman fleeing, has already initiated the trigger. Her fear, I am hoping, is sufficient to portray that this is not a norm and thus one can extrapolate some broad idea of her every day life not involving being chased in the woods.

So we have moved very quickly to the ‘Trigger’. Indeed, I literally cut to the chase in the first paragraph. The men are chasing her.

The ‘quest’ is partly to escape the men, but it becomes more for the Protagonist as her story goes on. This is one part I definitely need to flesh out in the story, because there is very little to safeguard her return home and I don’t think I successfully articulate her decision making very well in the story.

The ‘surprise’ elements are broadly interlinked, but involve falling into a river, meeting a stranger, and the dark spirit at the end. I was pleased to get feedback that the ending remained obscure, I haven’t telegraphed the conclusion.

The protagonist needs to make a ‘critical choice’ about returning home. As I’ve written, I don’t think I have covered that area very well, so I need to think more about her motivations, and those of the dark spirit and the stranger in counter balance.

The ‘climax’ and ‘reversal’ come very quickly. Again, I think I underplayed the tension for the Protagonist – her decision making is a little too simplistic. Worse still, it reads to me that she simply does an about turn without reference to what has occurred before (there is a lengthy section of dialogue with the stranger). I could have cut that section and it oud make no difference to her train of thought.

The ‘resolution’ is pretty well set, and just needs some tweaking. My original premise was quite vague, but I can flesh this out quite easily. 

Apologies for the succinct nature of this description. As always, this blog is written on the bus, so I am a hostage to a limited timeframe. I might do a follow-up once I’ve completed the 2nd draft, to explore the story in more detail. Tomorrow is characters.


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