FOCUS and Our Lives In Story Structure

time dreamingAs I prepare the material for this evening’s writers’ meeting, my mind drifts back in time to an event I can’t relive, can’t change. It was decades ago. I’m no magician. I can’t go back and undo the past; I can only live with the results.

Then I jerk my mind back to focus on the task at hand: preparing notes for the meeting.

We will be discussing the 2nd part of Act II tonight and the Hero’s journey. I’m going over an email a member sent sharing her ideas on this. She writes, “We either go with the flow, give up and be miserable, or we take the risk and go on a journey no matter what we leave behind.”

And my mind wanders to the past again, thinking about my life and comparing it to the Hero’s journey, to the structure of a story. I went with the flow and gave up. I know where that led.

To this, I make a note:

When creating the structure of a story, think about your life and when you stepped out of the normal or decided, “Even though this is scary and it’s going to change my life for ever, I need to do this because myself needs this to survive, breathe … to be happy. Even when no one else understands.”

DreamingAfter months (years actually, but the worst have been the past six months), I’ve stepped out of the normal. It was a small step because a large step could bring the mountains crashing down, and I’m not ready for that. However, this small step has brought some peace because it was an action instead of a thought. My 34 years of thoughts accomplished nothing. This small action could lead to something huge if the right circumstances arrive.

I jerk back to the present and write on the bottom of the page of notes: Our life is a series of stories, and each segment in our life is a full book and contains all the elements of a story: Act I, Act II, Act III. It has a beginning, middle and an end where things are resolved. Unfortunately for real life, that resolution may not be the story-book ending. In real life, we fail and nothing changes. We are thrust back to the normal where our story began.

If this happens in your book, rewrite the ending. Many readers won’t accept it. After dragging your hero through misery and torturing them to the brink of death, reward them with some measure of success.

5 thoughts on “FOCUS and Our Lives In Story Structure

  1. “In real life, we fail and nothing changes. We are thrust back to the normal where our story began” – I feel we build strength and knowledge everything we fail so for the next story we can progress further. A great piece of writing.

    • Thank you for the comment. You make a good point. Though I think (in real life) if we try again at the same task (or to escape/change a situation), it’s still the same story. Some of our stories are specific (from one date to another and occur in one chunk) while others may span decades and run at the same time as other stories. If life were a novel, it’d be easier to distinguish the parts/books.

  2. I wonder how Romeo and Juliet would have turned out if Shakespeare had heeded your words? 😛

    You are correct that in real life, we don’t always get a happily ever after. But I don’t believe we can go back to our normal either. We are forever changed by our failures and so is our normal. Hopefully, though, we’ve learned something from those mistakes and our new normal is a better place.

    • I hate Romeo and Juliet. It’s an epic fail.

      But there are times we fail and go back to normal. I think of normal as having accomplished nothing set out to achieve. In fiction, a character can grow and fail, but the success is in the growing (as we are led to believe).

      In real life, I’ve witnessed too many fails where people went back to the normal they tried to escape. A little personal growth is worth nothing if they remain in unwanted circumstances. In fact, it can be worse. If they’ve tasted freedom only to be locked up again, it makes life more miserable. It was better to have not tried at all than to fail. I know that probably goes against what most meme’s say, but I often don’t think like ‘happy thought memes’. Lol.

      Thanks for visiting and for sharing your thoughts.

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