When baking a cake, a cake pan is a very useful item.
Without one, you’ll end up either with a gigantic mess dripping all over the place or you’ll be stuck eating the batter right out of the bowl. Hmmm… I guess sometimes that’s exactly what you want!
But, for the times when you’d like to be able to share your delicious concoction in a more conventional manner; that’s when a pan helps shape the ingredients into something more socially acceptable!
Story structure can help this same way.
You still have to have the right ingredients, like character, setting and plot. You’ll have to determine the right proportions and order and timing. You might decide to chop it up and rearrange the order to be something entirely new. But, if you have the pan to shape it, sharing is a whole lot easier.
And most writers want to share their stories.
GET A PAN.
I’m thinking of structure in particular thanks to the SCBWI presentation given by Michael Mahin (aka Dr. Mike) last Saturday. He brought several screen-writing and story structuring philosophies together to help us wrap our heads around the idea of story structure.
I used to resist the idea of story structures and frameworks. It felt too much like coloring in the lines. Like it would snuff out all my creativity. I thought following a certain pattern or structure was formulaic and predictable – that maybe it was even cheating. Or, at least would lead to boring stories.
Blake has changed my writing life.
Not that I have any desire to write a screenplay. But his ideas have helped me understand plot in a new way. And, I see now that structure is the pan. I needed a pan to hold the deliciousness of words and characters and all those things I love to mix together.
There’s a perfectly good reason people use cake pans.
That’s like story structures. They work.
There’s no point in my hashing out Blake’s thoughts here, when you’d be better off reading it from him. But here is my own bit of Blake Snyder fan-girl geekdom. I wanted to see if his 15 Beats work for picture books as well as screenplays and novels. I decided to try it on a well-loved classic. Might as well go to one that definitely works.
I’ve typed the actual text as it falls on the different page turns for WHERE THE WILD THINGS ARE by Maurice Sendak – in 15 Beats a la Blake Snyder:
It’s probably hard to read in this format. If you are
total book nerd want a copy of the document, let me know and I’ll send one via email!
Now go mix up your own unique recipe!
Sarah Wones Tomp
WRITING ON THE SIDEWALK