Monday, January 16, 2012

Complication, Develop, Resolution

Studying and learning are completely different. A fellow blogger suggested the book, “Writing for Story” by Jon Franklin. Her post thoroughly convinced me to go forth and buy the book ASAP, which I did.
Excited, when the book arrived, I dove right in. NO!! I did not follow the rules…I read the introduction, and then the last chapter. Discouragement hit me almost from the get go. I did not want to hear how hard it is to become a good writer or how long it takes! Hey I don’t have that much time, I am almost old. I want simple, easy, fast!. Do ABC and presto chango, and instantly I can become Steinbeck or Twain. But NOOOOO, all I hear is, you will be dead before you write anything good and writing something great is you being delusional.  Well delusional comes easy for me so at least I am in familiar territory.

Now that you have had that positive introduction, don’t you just want to jump right up and go beg, borrow or steal the book? Sorry Mr. Franklin…hang in there this can only get better from here.

A bit of truth might be good at this point. Nowhere in the book does it say any of those negative thoughts. Those are all just me being me.  In fact chapter three Jon Franklin reprints the Ballad of Old Man Peters. This short story encouraged me quite a lot. The story is true and demonstrated how learning and improving never need stop. It was one of the most inspiring short stories I have ever read.
Side note: I just looked outside it’s snowing….AWEEEEESOME!!! Mr. Franklin would never have told you about the snow. He says leave out anything that does not add to the story.
In a nut shell Mr. Franklin lays out a simple (I didn’t say easy) structure for writing a good story.   He ought to know a thing or two about writing a good story after all he has won the Pulitzer prize twice. And, I am really doing my best to pay attention and learn from this magical person.

Mr. Franklin says every good story has to have three clear attributes. First the Complication, second the Development or the conflict. Lastly, a resolution to the complication is an absolute requirement.  His book is easy reading and the proof should be in the simple fact that I have made it to page 137.
One interesting point Mr. Franklin makes is how many stories do not have a clear resolution to the complication and that causes the story to be weak. He says, find the resolution first and work backwards, there you will find the complication, and in between lies a great story.

Even though I am only half way through reading Writing for Story, I am convinced this was the best $9.00 I have spent in the past many weeks.  Well, those two fly rods I bought might beat it out but it’s hard to top a new fly rod. 
Now in the beginning of this post, I wrote studying is not learning. The proof of that might be in how this post did not follow Mr. Franklins structure….at least completely, but then I have not finished reading his book yet. With that in mind let’s all have hope Mr. Franklin’s instruction can help Grayquill’s writing improve. If any of you are curious, I did try to follow his structure in writing this post and maybe I did a bit. I am sure several of you will set me straight.

BTW: GQ has left his delusional state and now knows he can get better even though he’s almost old - he is beginning to learn structure…Yahoo!
Complication: GQ is delusional
1.       Age makes learning harder
2.       GQ admits being lazy
3.       GQ fears he can’t learn
4.       The book helps GQ change his thinking
5.       GQ thinks his writing can get better
Resolution: GQ applies Structure


Sylvia K said...

I have no doubt you will make the most of it -- actually you already have, just polish the rough edges. Hope your new year is off to a great start.


Bill S. said...

Very interesting. I have written two books (Fishing)and I write and sell at least three to four articles for local newspapers. My best advise is to read good writing daily and write something daily. Good luck and just do it.

Linda at To Behold The Beauty said...

I'm already pretty impressed with your writing, GQ; but it sounds as if Mr. Franklin may have some good suggestions for improvement. And I guess there's always room for improvement.

Anita Jeyan said...

Basically, you shouldnt read that book. Because you already have your own style. So, break the rules !!

Shrinky said...

I really enjoyed your post here, GQ, and also found myself chuckling a little and nodding at the "getting too old for investing all that time and nonsense now" remarks - oh boy, does that hit a chord! I think every writer is always a work in progress, and that means always being open to improvement. That said, I believe you're doing perfectly fine as it is on this writing front of yours.

S. Susan Deborah said...

Ah, GQ, wasting a lot of time with that book. Just write, I say.

Wishing you a lovely New year.

Joy always,

Elizabeth said...

Thanks for visiting my blog, I am now following you!

Jessica N. Johnson said...

Your book is very interesting and makes me laugh, Aaron and I read it often! -Jessica

Arkansas Patti said...

I really like Bill S's advice. As one famous writer said, if you don't read a lot, don't even consider writing.
BTW, I am glad you looked out the window and let us have a look see.
Also, break some rules, they are like eggs when making an omelet.

Unknown said...

Everybody writes his / her own way. Who wants to be the next Twain or Steinback when you can be you.
There are thousands of writers out there, to be recognized in print should be the ultimate ecstacy for you guys I think.

Write to be happy. Be happy to write.

Hilary said...

I don't know much about writing but Frank sure does. He could point you toward a few decent free writing message boards, if you're interested. In any event, your posts are always enjoyable.

troutbirder said...

Interesting. Intuitively the advice make a lot of sense. I personally like the "quest" genre. Survival subdivision. Read Ulysses. Go from there

Rae said...

I am thrilled to find your blog. I found a comment you left on Troutbirder's blog and followed it here. Forget Mr. Franklin's help - you are already a fantastic writer and need no help. I guess you can call me a fan of your writing style. I enjoy the relaxed,easy,& comfortable way you tell your stories. You are talented! I read your book and am now glad to find your blog.

Dianne said...

I love your writing!
not all of art can be learned and sometimes experts are just like coaches - they can't play

I love 'I'm almost old'
you kill me at times
just the smallest turn of phrase makes me feel I can hear your voice and that I know you

that my dear is good writing

Hope sends hugs and suggests a children's book

Naomi said...

I had to laugh at the structure outline at the bottom of the post. You're never too old to learn, just like in the "Ballad of Old Man Wilks" he learns until he's in his 80s, and then some. As we learn, new worlds unravel, the world we know grows wider. I think, too, one of the points about structure he makes is that once you learn them, the rules are restrictive no longer. They free us to tell the story we want to tell in a gripping way. Happy reading to you as you finish the book (if you haven't already). I enjoyed this post.

Mary said...

Of course we can learn at any age, GQ--all it takes is willingness, which you clearly have. Beginning with your natural storytelling gift, including the elements of Franklin's suggestions that work for you can only be good! Cool post.

Thank you for all your recent posts; your Christmas day reflection was meaningful and moving. I deeply appreciate your openness in sharing it with your readers.

And here's the real test of your writing ability: once I start browsing down your posts, I read each one I start right through to the end, even when it's time for me to get on to doing something else.

Holly Kay said...

Well, I am with many other commenters...Your stories are perfectly funny, touching, and interesting--never noticed whether they had each of these elements. For longer works (i.e., novels), books like this seem helpful to be sure a story stays on track--I think I'll get this myself!

Heidrun Khokhar, KleinsteMotte said...

Well GQ is too hard on himself. Writing this post illustrates you have what it takes, your perusal style. These are modern times and the rules are flexible! Carry on and be the writer .