June 27, 2024

Hail Flash!

So, I’d like you to cast your mind back a few weeks to when I told you what we’d talk about next time. Which, by odd coincidence, was casting you mind back a few weeks to thhink about what I told you then…

Yeah, I’m running late, but it turns out it works thematically so… yay.

I thought it might be cool to talk about flashbacks for a minute or six. I’ve mentioned them half a dozen times over the past few years—usually relating to story structure, but I haven’t really talked about how to do them in a couple years. Maybe ten years? Wow I remember it as if it were only yesterday…

Anyway, for our purposes, when I’m saying flashback it can cover a few things. It can be an element within the story like a recalled memory, or something more physical like a letter or journal entry. Sometimes, like in my Ex-Heroes series, it’s part of the way the narrative has been structured. All I need to remember is that whatever form my flashback takes, it just needs to follow a few rules-of-thumb if it’s going to work.

<insert usual disclaimer of yes it’s always possible to find a way, exceptions do not disprove the rule, etc, etc>

Now, first rule of thumb is I can use a flashback anywhere in the story, but this switch in the narrative structure can’t affect the dramatic structure. If I’m going to drop linear point E between points R and S in my narrative, it still has to keep the story moving forward. It needs to keep building tension and/or pushing the character arc. If it doesn’t do either of those things… what was the point to this flashback?

A lot of writers use flashbacks as infodumps. The flashbacks are seen as a chance to show how Wakko met Phoebe, how Phoebe became a ninja, why Wakko hates snakes, and so on. The mistaken belief is that if I do this in a flashback, I’m not affecting the pacing or tension of the present storyline because these events aren’t happening now—they’re happening in the past.

When I do this, I’m confusing linear structure with narrative structure. A flashback has to keep moving the story forward. It doesn’t matter where the events fall in the linear structure of the story, but wherever I’m using them they have to fit into the narrative structure I’ve established.

I mentioned the Ex-Heroes books and, in all fairness, I did this with the first one. I dropped a flashback dead in the middle of the big climactic end battle and brought things to a grinding halt. Full-tilt, non-stop action to no-tilt, standing-in-place dialogue chapter in one page. Which meant (once it was pointed out to me) weighing if I needed this flashback or not, and if I did… where should it be instead? Where would it actually fit?

Now, the second rule of thumb is just the reverse of the first one. It’s when I confuse the narrative structure with the linear one. This is similar to a problem I’ve mentioned once or thrice before, understanding when something happens for the first time in my story. When I do this with flashbacks, instead of messing up the tension or the pacing. I mess up the internal logic of the story. It also happens sometimes with poorly set-up twists or reveals.

F’r example let’s say I’m telling a werewolf story, and on page 100 my protagonist has no idea who the werewolf is. Then, on page 200, I flash back two weeks to something that happened “off camera” earlier. Here I reveal that she learned the identity of the werewolf because of a clue she spotted in the old family Bible.

And yeah, in a quick, don’t-think-about-it-too-much way, this makes sense. On page 100 she doesn’t know, but by page 200 she does. Except… it’s new information for the reader on page 200, yeah, it’s not new to my heroine. She’s known all along, right? Pg 200 happened before page 100 once we look at this in linear order. Which makes her actions, motivations, and even some of her dialogue for the last hundred pages… probably don’t make a lot of sense.

The simplest way to test this is to take my narrative apart and put it back together in linear order. When I read it now… are people doing or saying things that don’t make sense? Does that twist land really flat? Are they acting strange for no reason? If my flashback doesn’t work once it’s in linear order… something probably needs work.

Now there’s one last thing I need to watch for, and that’s my third rule of thumb. This one had a bit of venn diagram overlap with the last two, but I think it’s pretty its own thing. It’s also a common problem in prequel stories which, if you think about it, are just big flashbacks.

By its nature a flashback is giving my readers a glimpse into the past. This also means, though, that they’ve effectively seen the future. They know, to a large extent, how things are going to play out. So trying to create a lot of drama and tension within my flashback can end up feeling… well, a little silly. Did forty-year-old Phoebe get eaten by a shark when she was fifteen?!? Hopefully we’ll find out in her next flashback…

I think some writers feel like they’re adding to the tension or suspense when they do this with flashbacks. Thing is… there really isn’t any tension in this cliffhanger, is there? Because y’see, Timmy, the moment the reader pauses, even for an instant (like, say, at this chapter break), they’ll remember forty-year-old Phoebe’s back here in the main narrative of the story and pretty solidly un-shark-eaten. No missing limbs. No major scars. Not even any nibbles that we’ve seen or heard her mention. So the attempt to build tension here just feels, well, artificial. It’s me trying to create tension in a situation where there clearly isn’t any.

So, to recap, my three three rules-of thumb for flashbacks.

1) My flashback needs to work within the narrative structure.

2) My flashback needs to work within the linear structure.

3) My flashback can’t create tension that’s undermined by the present.

Also, as I’ve been doing for years, I’m going to suggest some homework for you. Go watch the first Resident Evil movie. Yeah, the one with Milla Jovovich. Seriously. It’s action-horror fun but it’s also got some of the best flashbacks I’ve ever seen. Each one nudges either the plot or Alice’s personal story forward a little bit more, they all fit together flawlessly (as the movie even shows you), and rather than get undermined by the “current” narrative these flashbacks actually rack up the tension in it. Honestly, it’s well worth a watch and you can probably find it for free on Netflix or Tubi or something.

You only have to watch the first one. I mean if you want to watch them all, I happen to think they’re kind of fun. No, they don’t follow the games but it’s a pretty solid sci-fi/ horror series in its own right, especially when you consider almost every movie is clearly done as “okay, this is the last one…”

Anyway, next time, I’m going to revisit my simple four step plan for success.

Until then, go write.

May 2, 2024

Onward and Upward

Very sorry this is very late. I ended up with a clever thought about how I could restructure the whole thing. And then ha ha ha ha I kind of slashed half my fingertip open while working on some little toy soldiers (always be extra-careful when you’re using fresh X-acto blades, folks) and the bandages made typing a little challenging for, oh four days.

But here we are. Finally. For one last blathering-on about structure. This is the cool one, though.

So, I started off talking with you about linear structure, and then I talked a bit more about narrative structure. This week I want to combine these two and talk about dramatic structure.

As the name implies, dramatic structure involves drama. Not “how shall I recover from this sleight, woe is me” drama, but the tension and interactions and momentum within my story. Any story worth telling (well, the vast, overwhelming majority of them) is going to involve a series of challenges and an escalation of tension. Stakes will be raised, then raised again. More on this in a bit.

Speaking of which, before I dive in… okay, look, on one level I hate breaking all this stuff down and quantifying it because we’re talking about art. We’ve all got our own likes and dislikes and styles and methods, and there’s rarely any good, one-size-fits-all advice The art part of this is personal, and we should all be a bit cautious when some guru starts telling you how stories go together and slaps down graphs and charts or some nonsense like that.

So. with that out of the way… let me dive in and tell you how stories go together. I’ve got graphs and charts to help out.

Now, dramatic structure means I want to arrange my story so tension is rising. The plot needs to advance. Characters need to make decisions, and those decisions should have an effect on them and what’s going on around them, for better or for worse. Usually for worse. It may sound silly to say out loud, but tension should be higher at the middle of my story than the beginning, and higher at the end than it was in the middle. That’s just common sense right? Nobody wants to read (or write) a story that gets less interesting and compelling as it goes on. Or a story that starts sort of compelling and then stays… sort of compelling, and at the big climax is sort of compelling. I mean, maybe I’m just weird that way?

Mind you, these don’t need to be world-threatening challenges or gigantic action set pieces. If the whole goal of my story is for science-nerd Wakko to ask out popular girl Phoebe, a challenge could be working up the nerve or just finding the right clothes. But there needs to be something for my character to do to bump that tension line higher and higher. Stand up to the bully. Get to work in time for that important meeting. Come up with $30,000 by five o’clock on Friday to save Aunt Dot’s car wash. And, yes, defeating the cyborg ninja werewolf from the future so I can deactivate the terraforming device before it turns North America back into primordial tundra.

So let’s talk and let me show you some fun visual aids. On all of these graphs, the individual points are going to represent the linear structure. I’m going to be using the alphabet to mark them because we can all recognize that order pretty quick– A, B, C, D, and so on. Our X-axis (oooh, look at me, talking all mathy and sciencey) is going to be the progression of the story—our narrative structure. Think of it as the arrangement of plot points from the first page of my story to the last page (and damn, I wish I’d thought of that explanation earlier). Finally, the Y-axis is going to be our tension levels—dramatic structure.

Got all that?

Also, apologies up front. I didn’t realize how rough these graphs would be shrunken down. Sorry. Just open ’em in another tab. Also graphic design is my passion, yadda yadda, moving on.

Okay, let’s do an easy starter graph.

This is the story of me sleeping. It’s pretty simple. We start when I go to bed, and end when I waking up. It’s told in a linear fashion, so the linear and narrative structures line up. There’s a brief moment in there when a cat woke me up (maybe Julius or Alucard?) and I went back to sleep, but that’s pretty much it as far as dramatic tension goes.

Like I said, simple. Really, this is a story where nothing happens. It’s pretty boring. You may notice it’s pretty close to a straight line. A flat line, really. And if you’ve watched a lot of medical shows, you probably know what it means when they say something’s flatlined

So, if we want to see our heroes overcome challenges and watch the overall tension rise… what would that look like?

Well, here’s a very bare-bones dramatic structure. We start small, and tension increases as time goes by. Low at the start, high at the end. Makes sense, right?

But… this is pretty much another straight line, right? And straight lines are pretty close to flat lines (see above). So how am I supposed to have a dramatic structure that constantly rises but isn’t a straight line?

Well, let’s think back to high school physics for a minute (sorry if this is traumatic for any of you). Did any of you ever deal with that problem of playing pool on a train? As long as the train’s moving at a steady speed, you can play a game of pool on a moving train without any weird effects. Because you, the floor, the pool table, the balls… all of it’s moving together at the same speed. We’re not aware of the speed because everything’s moving together. We don’t hit a problem until the train speeds up, slows down, or goes around a corner.

Maybe a more familiar example—if I’m driving my car at a nice, even speed, I can reach out and play with the radio. I can have a drink of water or soda or coffee. I can wiggle around and take off my jacket or get my wallet out or whatever. And it doesn’t really matter if I’m moving at 40 or 60 or even a hundred miles per hour. Going in a straight line at an even speed is just like… well, not moving at all.

Y’see, Timmy, we don’t feel a constant velocity—it’s the change that stands out. That’s what grabs our attention. When I have to hit the gas or slam on the brakes or turn fast. that’s when I’m very aware I’m on a train or in my car. And these are the moments that demand attention. These points stand out above the constant ones.

So my dramatic structure can’t be a nice, even rise like that last graph. In a good story, there’s going to be multiple challenges and my hero isn’t always going to succeed. No, really. He or she will win in the end, sure, but it’s not going to be easy getting there. There’s going to be failures, mistakes, and unexpected results. Ups and downs. Because that’s normal. We don’t want a character who’s good at everything, never has a problem dealing with anything, maybe never even encounters anything to deal with. So that line is going to be a series of peaks and drops. For every success, every time we get a little higher, there’s going to be some setbacks. Any time my characters complete a challenge, new, bigger challenge is going to appear. Hell, it might even appear before they finish the current challenge.

Still with me?

Okay then, let’s try a third graph.

So, now we’ve got peaks and valleys. Things start small, but are pretty much always rising. Also, notice how even when there are lulls or setbacks, things never go all the way back to zero. The breather we get on page 150 is not the same as the one we got back on page 16. The overall dramatic structure is that tension is rising.

This might sound like a blanket statement, but pretty much every story should look something like this graph if I map it out. I mean, they’re not all going to match up precisely peak for peak, but they should all be pretty close to this pattern. Small at the start, increase with peaks and dips, finish big.

That’s it. The easy trick to dramatic structure that Big Novel doesn’t want you to know. No matter what my narrative is doing, the tension needs to keep going up.

Simple, yes?

Okay now let’s take a look at another one…

Do you see what’s different about it? Looks the same at first glance, yes? But check out that bottom row. I’ve changed the narrative structure by breaking up the linear structure. There are three flashbacks in the story now. So—for the reader—the events aren’t unfolding the same way they did for the characters.

BUT… again, the overall graph still isn’t that different. For this story, the flashbacks are adding to the tension. Learning this information at this point has made the drama stronger. I’m choosing to put this plot point here in order to create a specific dramatic effect.

This is something I’ve mentioned twice or thrice here on the ranty blog. There needs to be a reason for this shift to happen at this point—a reason that continues to feed the dramatic structure. If my dramatic tension is at seven and I go into a flashback, it should take things up to seven-point-five or eight. And if it doesn’t—if it actually drops the dramatic tension to go into a flashback—why am I doing it? I shouldn’t be having a flashback right now. Not that particular one, anyway.

Now to be clear, this isn’t an automatic thing. Events E-F aren’t ten times more dramatic just because I stuck them near the end of the story instead of the beginning. This is something I need to be aware of—me, the writer—while I’m working out my narrative structure. if I map out my story like this, even in my head (and be honest about it), I can get a better sense of how well my story’s structured. I probably don’t want a super-fast, high-tension story beat right at the start of my story. A scene with no dramatic tension in it most likely shouldn’t be in my final pages. If I’ve got a chapter that’s incredibly slow, it shouldn’t be near the middle of my book.

And if I do have things like this—things that are bending that story structure waaaay out of shape—it might mean I’m doing something wrong.

Okay, I think with that I’ve thrown enough at you. Ask any questions down below. Just remember, a lot of this is going to depend on you. The other two forms of structure are pretty logical and quantifiable, but dramatic structure relies more on gut feelings and empathy with my reader. I have to understand how information’s going to be received and interpreted if I want to release that information in a way that builds tension. And that’s a lot harder to teach or explain. The best I can do is point someone in the right direction, then hope they gain some experience and figure it out for themselves.

On which note… next time, I think we’re due for another talk about Zefram Cochrane.

Until then… go write.

July 27, 2023

Devil In The Details

Hey, look! Lori made a request a few weeks back and we’re fulfilling that request. Because that’s how we roll here!

So, the question is details. How much is too much? How do you know if it’s not enough?

This won’t be great to hear but… this is pretty much impossible to answer. Mostly because writing is art and all art is subjective and a lot of the stuff we call “description” is a huge chunk of the art portion of this equation. Hypothesis? Theorem?

Anyway, my book isn’t going to be anything like your book. Your style isn’t going to be anything like my style. And we each probably have different ideas about how we want our respective stories to land. And that’s before we even touch on basic structure ideas, that different chapters and scenes are going to have different pacing and purposes and will need different levels of description and detail. Within the earlier restrictions I mentioned about our individual styles and all that.

Really filling you with confidence right now, aren’t I?

I thought about this a bit, and I think the best thing I can do is give you my own personal rules for how I tend to approach these things in my own writing. The sort of rules-of-thumb I use to decide if I spend a paragraph describing someone or something, or a full page, or maybe just half a sentence. And like any kind of writing advice, this is just what works for me, so it might not work for you. It definitely won’t work for that guy. But hopefully it’ll get you thinking and considering things in your own work…

So here’s my three guidelines for adding (or not adding) details/descriptions in my writing.

1) Are these details necessary

There’s an idea I’ve brought up once or thrice here before, Damon Knight’s information vs noise. Facts we don’t know are information. Facts we already know are noise. We like getting information and we pay attention to it. Noise is annoying, and we tend to ignore it whenever we can.

In my mind, describing objects, places, or processes that we all know is kind of a waste of my word count and the reader’s patience. Especially if these things aren’t somehow important to my plot or story. We all know what a smartphone looks like. And a grocery store. And how to pump gas. I don’t want to spend my precious words on things like this. I want to use them to describe the strange pendant that woman slipped into my pocket when she bumped into me. Or that alien in the middle of the road I might have just hit with my car.

What’s that in the back? Well, yeah, there are a lot of makes and models of phones out there. Very true. But honestly… how many of them look all that different, especially once they’re in a case? I mean, think of the BBC Sherlock with Benedict Cumberbatch. His smartphone was a huge part of his character and how he interacted with others, and the show itself changed how everyone does texting in television and movies.

Off the top of your head,…can you say if Sherlock’s phone was an Android or iPhone? You probably can’t because the truth is it’s completely irrelevant. It would’ve been a waste of time to make any sort of distinction.

In fact, as I’m scribbling this, I’d like to expand on the information/ noise idea a bit. I think the first few times we encounter obvious noise in a story, we tend to think there’s a reason for it. That the author has a purpose for describing something we’d otherwise consider not worth mentioning. I mean, they wouldn’t give us half a page of description of the waitress and give her a name if she wasn’t kind of important to the story, right? This has to be information. And that’s why this sort of thing can cause a lot of frustration, because at some point the readers realize the waitress is irrelevant and it doesn’t matter what kind of phone she uses and they’ve just been processing a lot of noise that isn’t necessary to the story.

Now, before anyone gets too grumpy, I want to move on to my next wishy-washy rule…

2) Do these details serve a purpose

A purpose? Wait, isn’t that what I was just saying? Am I having a stroke?

When I say a detail serves a purpose, I mean it might not be a necessary, integral part of my plot or story, but I still have a reason for including it. Maybe it’s helping me set the tone or the mood or it’s hinting at something about a character or location or an object. Whatever it is, if you asked I could explain the function of this bit of description.

For example, what color and model of car Yakko drives is probably irrelevant to my plot. It’s important that he has a car, but nothing hinges on him having, for example, an economy car vs a sports car. The reader could picture either and nothing would change in my story. But if I call it his fire-engine red midlife crisis on wheels? That’s giving you piles of extra information, isn’t it? It’s not necessary, but it serves a purpose.

A few key things here. First is word choice. Since I’m putting in this description for a reason, I should really make sure the words I choose push that purpose. Like with Yakko’s car. It could’ve just been a red sports car, but describing it the way I did told you it’s a red sports car and about Yakko, and about how I (or maybe the narrator?) want you to view him in this story.

Second is not to go overboard. It’s easy to describe more and more and more and come up with a rationalization for all of it. Like, if I want to show how wealthy someone is, I could give lush descriptions of every item in their office and it’d all fall nicely under the umbrella of “showing how wealthy they are.” But I could also probably do this by focusing on just one or two things– maybe that painting or the weird glass sculpture of.. whatever that is. Friggin’ modern art. Costs a bundle and I can’t tell if it’s supposed to be a flower or a naked woman or maybe it’s just a shape? I don’t know. Some people have money to burn, right?

I’ve got one more details guideline for you. I really think this is the most important thing about including details. If you want to ignore the last two things, fine, but please consider this one…

3) Are these details affecting the pacing

Almost universally, things are going to get faster and tenser as my plot and story progress. That’s just basic narrative structure. It picks up its pace as it moves along. And I want my readers to feel that quickening of events, that rise of tension. I want it to carry them along like a wave carries a surfer.

Description almost always brings things to a halt. It can’t be helped. In the real world we can actually see/ hear/ feel things and absorb all those details almost instantly, but on the page we have to write them out. A single glance can take four or five paragraphs to cover everything we saw.

This means it’s very easy for details to mess up my pacing. If things are moving at even a mild pace, one or two paragraphs of description can slow things down and knock us out of the story for a moment. If we’re near the end and things have really picked up speed, hitting even a few lines of excess description can be jarring. So I need to be careful about where and when I deploy them.

It’s my own personal style, but I’ve mentioned before that I like action (as in fists and guns and swords and car chases action) to feel like it takes about as long to read as it would take to happen. As close as possible, anyway. It doesn’t sell a blinding-fast martial arts fight to write out each strike, each block, each counter. Same with running in sheer terror from the monster in the woods, which has two primary horns on each side of its head, three smaller curled horns clustered around them, and a sort of ridged brow over each eye, which are a fiery red. These are times when–IMHO–pausing to add a lot of detail can really kill the pacing or tension. It knocks us out of the fast-paced flow of the moment and suddenly we’re standing around counting eyebrow ridges instead of running for our goddamned lives.

Also, overall, I feel it’s better to describe things earlier than later. The pacing should be slower in the beginning of a story, so it makes a brief pause here or there fit in better. Plus, it makes sense to describe things when we first see them (or when we eventually stop running away from them)

And again, there could always be an exception to this. There might be an all-new element in the third act that has to be described in detail. But really, if you think about it, structure kind of demands these things be rare. If I’m introducing a lot of necessary stuff in my third act… something may have gone wrong somewhere.

So that’s it. Those are the three ways I tend to screen my descriptions and details to figure out if they’re good, excessive, or just completely unnecessary. Hope they help a little.

And if you’ve got a question or a topic request, please let me know.

Next time here, I’d like to talk a little bit about one of our planet’s great philosophers, Ludwig Wittgenstein.

It’s going to be so much fun.

Until then, go write.

May 12, 2023 / 1 Comment

The Right Kind of Doctor

So, rather than talk about writing, I wanted to spend a few minutes talking about doctors.

I’m guessing most of us have dealt with a doctor at some point in our lives. I know I’ve dealt with a bunch. General practitioners, sure, but I also had a long bout with a nose and throat specialist that ended with… well, a lot of stuff cut out of my head. I’ve also seen doctors for a pair of knee injuries that I’ve talked about once or thrice. And another doctor for one of those, well, men-over-a-certain-age examinations. And one of those led to another specialist doctor, and another surgery, where I believe a few other specialist doctors were in attendance.

That’s not even counting dentists and orthodontists. People like to make jokes, but they’re doctors too. When I finally fought my way out of poverty, well, my mouth was a mess. I hadn’t seen a dentist in over a decade. I’d had one tooth actually crumble in my jaw. Another one cracked in half. I probably count as a cyborg with all the metal and ceramic in my head now.

Plus, I had a high school biology teacher who was very firm that we call him doctor, not mister. He had a doctorate and he wanted to be sure everyone knew it. And I mean, most of my college professors were doctors. English literature, comparative literature, astronomy, art history, anthropology, and more. Hell, I had one anthropology TA who had his doctorate, he just couldn’t get a better position, job-wise.

Oh, and my friend Mary (credited in the back of several books) is a doctor, and she puts up with so many bizarre questions from me about drugs, injuries, zombies, stuff like that

Point is, I’ve known a lot of doctors. You probably have, too. We all understand that doctor can mean a lot of different things. I don’t want an art history professor operating on my throat, and I probably have a better understanding of early American literature than my proctologist, even though he’s got a doctorate and I don’t.

And there’s nothing wrong with this. We’re not putting anyone down, we’re just acknowledging that doctor is a term that can mean a lot of very different things. The advice my dentist gives about, well, dental matters is not going to apply to art history. And vice versa.

Okay, yeah, I’m really talking about writing.

Structure is one of those things people talk about a lot, but so often it’s clear (to me, anyway) they don’t really know what they’re talking about. They’re that guy whining that their art history professor can’t treat cancer or Jill Biden isn’t really a doctor. They’ve chosen one definition for structure and they discard (or mock) anything that doesn’t meet said definition. One example I see a lot is folks railing against three act structure, but I’ve found most of them don’t seem really clear about what three act structure is. Especially in relation to other types of structure.

Structure can be confusing in writing because there are so many different types. Three act structure is a thing, yes. But so is dramatic structure. And linear structure. And narrative structure. And network TV shows and movies tend to have a four or five act structure (or even six in some cases) but that has to do less with storytelling and more with how many ad breaks said network insists on.

I think the problem some folks have is that when the idea of three act structure got more or less loosely codified, it became something they could point to. Especially people who… well, didn’t know what they were talking about. What was supposed to be guidelines suddenly became RULES. Solid, well-defined rules, which meant I could now say you were breaking the rules or following them.

The problem was, they were trying to apply the rules of three act structure on television’s five act structure. Or they’d insist narrative structure had to follow the rules for linear structure. Which, again, is like insisting Jill Biden isn’t a real doctor because she doesn’t do open heart surgery. Which would also apply to Dr. Mendelsohn, the guy at UCLA who spent several hours poking around inside my neck and skull, as mentioned earlier. He’s clearly not a real doctor.

(He is. He’s fantastic. Honestly saved my life)

Anyway… my point is, structure is a big umbrella with a lot of things under it. And if we want to get good at this, we need to understand the differences between them, but also how they work together to create a good story. I can’t just take one type of structure and say this is the only one that matters. Especially if I’m applying the basic rules of another type of structure to it.

Think of it this way (to use our doctor analogy again). Your body has a digestive system. And a nervous system. Circulatory, endocrine, skeletal, so many systems. We understand they’re all separate things that operate in different ways. The rules of one don’t apply to another.

But we also understand all these systems need to work together. Even on our basic, layman’s, non-doctor level we can see the places they overlap or brush up against each other. How changes to this one will affect that one.

And that’s how stories work. We’ve got several types of structure, each with their own individual rules, each working in their own way. But they rub up against one another, and this structure is going to affect that structure. Making some blanket, universal edict that covers all of them just shows I don’t really understand any of them.

And I need to understand them if I want to tell good stories.

Yeah, I’ve mentioned a lot of different types of structure. There are links to more detailed posts about almost all of them. Which also means I need to go clean up at least four or five older posts so they don’t look too chaotic when you click on those links.

Anyway, next time… I wanted to talk about getting the last word.

Until then, go write.