Happy Easter! Although by rights the Saturday is not really celebrated, I’m excited because this is the beginning of a three week holiday. Next Friday I’ll be on Flinders Island visiting a certain Monkey person.
Pondering over things as I did my last post, I realized that you cannot really have one element that makes a story work.
I have always liked the rule of three with story construction – Setting, Character, Conflict. I know there are so many more elements, but if I had to pick three, these are always a great guide. If you are trying to give a few guidelines to someone new to writing, it is also a very easy framework to hang onto, something that is really quite powerful.
The idea, as this concept was taught to me, was that these three elements should interrelate. The setting should be so integral to the story that if you took it away, you would have a different story – or would not be able to tell the story. The character also has to be unique to that story, formed by that setting, primed for that conflict.
What is it about that character that will drive that story? How is that character unique to that setting? The conflict also has to be something unique to that world or setting and something that intimately involves that character.
Try telling Lord of the Rings without the backdrop of Middle Earth. In some ways I respond the world as a character in LoR, or series of characters. You can really see JRRs love of nature in the way he paints the backdrops in the early part of Frodo’s journey.
Can you think of any stories that combine and weave these multiple elements? Can you think of any good examples of book that have used settling as a particularly integral part of the storytelling – or to the extent that it becomes a character in its own right?