A Crash Course in Story Structure – Flash Fiction Horror Challenge!


Hello, writing faithful!

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Short post today about a contest going on over at Chuck Wendig’s blog–its a short fiction challenge and the winner recieves some of his non-fiction books about writing! I entered and you can read my story in his comments.

The prompt is:

“Write a scary story in three sentences.

That’s it.

Remember: a proper story has a beginning, middle and an end.

It is not merely a vignette.

And, no, really – make it scary.

You will write these stories in the comments below, not at your websites or blog spaces.”
-Terrible Minds by Chuck Wendig

I’m posting about it here because I wanna give you guys some tips on making good entries!
I see a lot of people on there writing stories I don’t think will qualify because they’re all vignettes without structure. So I’m gonna give y’all a VERY brief crash course in story structure. Yay!

Chuck stipulates you gotta have a beginning, middle and end. He doesn’t mean spatially; he means story movement-wise.

First thing most stories need is CONFLICT. Usually conflict stems from a desire that cannot be fulfilled: Character A wants B but can’t because C.
Without conflict it’s a little more difficult to craft a story, seeing as how it’s such a basic part of our daily life.

Anyway, next is the structure. Beginning Middle and Ending need some clarification for y’all.

Beginning = “Precipitating event” as it’s called in technical terms. What this means is something happens that’s different from the status quo (normal daily life) of the characters.

Middle = In dealing with the precipitating event, things change for the characters. This can be a twist of fate, but it basically boils down to the CONFLICT mentioned above; here’s where we explore C, the reason why Character A can’t get what he wants and HOW it interferes. The most important part to address is how the characters deal with the precipitating event from the beginning. This also sets up the climax.

Ending = Climax and Resolution. This is where your story should be most exciting–to reward the reader for sticking with you all this way–and it’s also where you need to show WHAT happened to Character A when he came up against C. It doesn’t have to be a happy ending, but it has to RESOLVE the issue somehow.
Your story can’t  just stop without a resolution; you need to devote at least a tiny bit to what happens AFTER the climax–giving the readers closure. Even if your character‘s issue is unresolved, you should have your character acknowledge that somehow.

SO TO REVIEW: Story = Something wierd happens, the characters react, and then, for better or worse, they resolve the situation.

Now this is, as I said, a crash course, and I’ve basically boiled down about 1000 years of storytelling theory into a paragraph and a half, but keep this in mind and do more research. There are, as ever, no absolutes in art but this is an observation which is true for 99.999999% of fiction.

I will address these issues more fully in later posts, but this oughtta give you a leg up in the competition on Chuck’s contest!
Also, my contest is still live! Enter it!

And leave me a comment–did I get the story structure right? Anything important I missed? Let me know.

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