Let me start by saying that I have taught High School English. I have studied literature at university (in English and in French). I know all about plot elements. In fact, I could probably draw and label that classic pyramid-shaped plot diagram with my eyes closed.
This week, my online writing course has me watching video lessons on the protagonist’s “journey” through a novel. It’s weird. I know this stuff backwards and sideways.
I have always avoided applying my literary analysis skills to the book I’m trying to write. I worried about ending up with a predictable, cookie-cutter narrative: Inciting event. Rising action. Climax. Blah blah blah.
And yet – this is working for me. I’m doing character exercises to articulate the ways my two protagonists see the world at the beginning of the book vs. the end. I’m pulling back and thinking about the structure of my story and the pros and cons of keeping it linear. I wrote a synopsis with ALL the events I see happening, and all that information fit on one page, made sense and included elements of a beginning, middle and end: Inciting event. Rising action. Climax.
So maybe I don’t need to reinvent the wheel? Maybe I can take these characters, who have been haunting and inspiring me for so many years, and fit their stories into a logical framework. Maybe I can actually write this book.