Series of progressive complications ever rising risks

I heard an interesting story one time that goes as follows:

There once was a very poor man who lived in a kingdom. All he had was his son and six beautiful horses. One day the king came riding by and saw the horses. The king offered to buy the horses for a very large sum of money. The man refused. His neighbors told him he was crazy not to take the money because the king's offer was a very good thing. He replied: "I don't know if it's a good thing or a bad thing. It just is."

Two days after the king had made his offer and the poor man had turned him down, the horses disappeared. His neighbors looked at the poor man and said now he should feel very bad because he not only didn't get the king's money, but he also no longer had his horses. He replied: "I don't know if it's a good thing or a bad thing. It just is."

A few days later, the six horses came back with six more wild horses, just as beautiful. The poor man's neighbors said: "What a good thing you didn't sell them to the king. Now you have twelve horses." He replied: "I don't know if it's a good thing or a bad thing. It just is."

While trying to break in the six new horses, the man's son was thrown and shattered his leg, crippling him for life. The man's neighbors said. "What a bad thing those six new horses are. Now your son is crippled for life." He replied: "I don't know if it's a good thing or a bad thing. It just is."

A year later, the kingdom went to war with a neighboring kingdom, a war everyone knew they were destined to lose. When the levy came for young men to go fight, the poor man's son wasn't taken to go because of his crippled leg. The man's neighbors said: "What a good thing that your son is crippled so he doesn't have to go and die in this foolish war like our own sons." He replied: "I don't know if it's a good thing or a bad thing. It just is."

And such goes life and such go stories. Keep the reader along for the ride. They want to turn the pages and find out what happens next.

Suspense is a very integral part of practically any story. This can range from the hero saving the world to wondering what is going to happen to a main character. There are many types of suspense. I just watched an interesting movie call

Dancer, Texas, Pop. 87. It chronicles a weekend in a small Texas town. It starts on Friday, with a high school graduation of a class of five, four boys and one girl. It follows the four boys over the weekend and ends on Monday morning. The four boys, when they were sophomores, all bought bus tickets for the Monday morning after graduation to get the heck out this small town and go to LA. The suspense comes from wondering which of the four will be on that bus Monday morning and which will stay. Since you come to care about these characters, you care about the decisions they will make.

Suspense in a thriller can come from a clock ticking. Or in a mystery from the classic 'who-done-it.' One thing that many mysteries I see are lacking is suspense—if it is a one-time murder, how are you going to generate suspense? Sometimes it's from how the good guy catches the bad guy. But if you have just a body, and there's not threat that the killer will kill again; or that the hero is in danger; or some pay-off, then there's little suspense.

3. Crisis (a choice)

The protagonist is forced to make a choice whether or not she wants to attempt to restore the balance that was disrupted by the inciting incident. It should not be obvious to the reader how this is going to be resolved. You raise suspense by keeping the reader guessing.

4. Climax (make choice)

The choice is made and balance is either restored, or a new balance is worked out.

Make sure your protagonist is involved in the climax.

5. Resolution (wrap up plot and subplots)

Don't leave any loose ends dangling. The reader cares about all the characters and all the events. Tie it all up.

The above are very simple and self-explanatory. I won't go into depth on them because I don't want you to feel that you have to do anything. Just keep the five elements in mind as you outline your novel and as it progresses.

There are certainly novels that do not follow the narrative structure. I present it here as a guideline for those who wish to use it. Certain types of genre fit into this structure much more clearly than others.

Near the end of this book, I list the way a screenplay breaks down into three acts with plot points. I think this is also an effective way to break down a novel.

Use the narrative structure to break down the novel you dissected in chapter six.

You can also use it when approaching the question of story. Your idea might be the hook, or it might be the crisis, or it might be the decision that is made. The question is, can you lay out a complete story that has a resolution?

I talk about outlining later, but I think the more you know before you start writing, the better off you will be.

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