Tuesday, 15 September 2015

Build on a good story base

I try to walk every day as I spend too much time sitting at my desk. A trip to Ikea got me a desk top and table legs that can extend to a standing height. It made a cheap standing desk for my chromebook so I can do a few things standing up but scrivener is still on my PC, so I swap and change. I never stand still. I usually end up dancing about listening to my music. I’m sure that’s good for me, too.
My suburb is in flux; the older homes are being knocked down in sets of four or six, and low level unit blocks are popping up everywhere. They are all eight to ten storeys which is the building limit in this council area. If I look out my back window I can see seven cranes. It makes my walks a little bit challenging - seriously, I am too old for catcalling - but I love watching the changes in the building sites as the structure rises from the ground.
There is one site that intrigues me. From the day it was fenced off it was different. It is incredibly neat and well organized. The fence was dead upright with no gaps, the clay soil was covered in gravel so the workers didn’t walk in mud, the work caravan units had aircons and plumbing installed, and one was a designated meeting room, and they built a two metre wide set of stairs down into the pit when other sites used a ladder or a dirt ramp. At the end of the day they have the structural items they need for the next day set out - ready and waiting.
I was thinking that if I had the pick of an apartment in any of the building sites, I’d take one in this block.
Why? Because if they have that attention to detail on the basics, then it will be the best quality construction.
I said in the last post that I have been reading a lot about writing. And one of the things I am learning about is story structure. It is one of those things that I think you notice more when it isn’t  present. I read a murder mystery recently that I gave up on when I was more than halfway through and there still hadn’t been a murder. It broke the rules and I didn’t like it. Because it did that it didn’t get a chance to prove itself to me.
Another was a regency romance that then introduced the paranormal, and then a murder mystery and then a serial killer. Well… which is it? In trying to do everything, it didn’t do any properly. When the two main characters were being romantic I was thinking ‘they don’t have time for this, someone is trying to kill her’. And when they finally started to investigate the murder they used clues they had gathered in the first, very early part of the book. It was like a frankenbook - built up of too many genres for me. It’s basic structure was flawed.
And another was set up as a werewolf Romeo and Juliet; each was the child of warring alphas and once they mated any conflict disappeared. As a reader I was so disappointed. The writer had made an implied promise to the reader - I’ll give you this - and then they didn’t.
So, like that apartment block, if your story has the structure right then maybe you can be a little bit fancy if the core is there. Keep your promises, get the basics right, and you will build a good, solid structure when you do.