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Laura Pauling | Tag Archive | story structure
Tag Archives | story structure

Saving Mr. Banks – for readers and writers.

It’s been a while since I cried in a movie. If I’d been alone, I would’ve broken down and sobbed. As it was, I could barely breathe through my nose, and tears were continually leaking from my eyes again and again. I can’t even talk to my husband about it without my voice wavering.

I didn’t know P.L. Travers’ story. Somehow I knew she had been difficult to work with and that it took a while for her to agree to the movie, but I didn’t know everything else.

I didn’t know her story and how it was reflected in Mary Poppins.

I didn’t realize that Mr. Banks represented her father and that Mary Poppins was someone in her life that swooped in to save her family.

I didn’t know how much effort Walt Disney put into this movie and how a part of Mr. Banks reflected his life too. Gosh, talk about subtext and multiple meanings in a movie title.

I didn’t know how much heart and soul she put into the story of Mary Poppins.

But don’t most authors do that? It might not represent their life story so exactly but pieces of us are laced in our stories, possibly to the point that no one would know upon reading. Watching the movie I felt so many different emotions. I laughed. I felt empathy. I connected with another author who laid herself bare. No wonder she had a hard time letting someone else make a movie of what was essentially her life and her pain.

There’s not enough room without outlining the whole movie to explain all the facets that made this show so moving. You’ll have to watch it. Maybe you won’t cry because your life has been different than mine. Or maybe you will.

Here’s a fantastic article that calls Saving Mr. Banks a masterclass for authors.

If you’d like, share the last book or movie that touched your heart, mind and soul.

Comments { 15 }

Story structure of a heist movie in 15 sentences.

I walked up to Redbox simultaneously rubbing my hands with glee but also doubtful because we haven’t had much luck in the movie department. One of the first movies I noticed was Man on A Ledge. At first, I thought it sounded really dumb but…as soon as I saw the words diamond heist I didn’t need to read anymore.

Of course I won’t mention that I left the movie in the shopping cart in the parking lot and had to return and then pay for it again. Nope, not going to mention that at all!

So, if you couldn’t tell, I love, love, love heist movies and I love studying them. #plotnerd #savethecat. So here goes.

 

Opening Image:

Nick Cassidy eats his last meal in a hotel (alone), wipes down all his fingerprints, writes the suicide note, and then climbs out the window and onto the ledge.

Theme-stated:

For me, it’s hard to pick out the moment they reveal the theme because I’m watching the movie and taking notes, but the strong theme of looking beyond the facts to find the truth is very apparent.

Set-up:

During a flashback, we learn Nick might have been unfairly imprisoned, he’s an ex-cop, and he escaped while attending his father’s funeral.

Catalyst:

During the flashback we learn Nick’s appeal had been overturned and he’d be in jail for 25 years.

Debate:

Tricky in a heist movie because there is usually not a huge character arc but I’d say his debate occurred when he was denied the appeal. Obviously, he chose to do something about it and escape!

Break into Two:

Nick Cassidy says he won’t talk to anyone but Detective Mercer, so Act II starts for me when she shows up at the window to talk Nick out of jumping.

B Story:

The subtle romance between Nick and Mercer as she tries to do her job and he plays her and stalls for time.

Fun and Games:

Joey Cassidy, Nick’s brother, and his girlfriend break into a nearby building to steal a diamond while Nick draws all the media attention.

Midpoint:

Due to a news helicopter, Nick is recognized, and we learn he was previously in jail for already stealing the diamond.

Bad Guys Close In:

We see David Englander, the owner of the diamond, talk with dirty cops to “take care” of Nick.

All is Lost:

Nick reveals to Mercer that he’s been communicating with his brother through an earpiece, and Joey states that the diamond is not in the vault. (They were counting on it to prove Nick’s innocence.)

Dark Night of the Soul:

Per the usual heist movie or book there is not a huge character arc, nor a dark night of the soul.

Break into Three:

The tactical team arrives from helicopter and the chase begins when Nick breaks back into the building.

Finale:

Nick resteals the diamond and proves his innocence. This simple sentence doesn’t begin to show the amazing climax. (We learn the man who owned the diamond had previously framed Nick to recover financially from the insurance money from the supposed theft of the same diamond.)

Final Image:

At the start he was eating alone and now he’s in a bar with Mercer, his brother and girlfriend, and his Dad. Yes, a nice twist at the end and it’s confirmed that this elaborate heist was planned and a success!

Overall, I really enjoyed this heist movie especially because the motivations behind it were personal with Nick’s freedom on the line. And I learned that Man on a Ledge is a cop term for a potential suicide.

And I loved seeing the similarities between this break down and the break down of Heist Society by Ally Carter.

Do you like heist movies? Any good ones? If not, what do you like to watch?

 

 

 

Comments { 33 }

That one-two punch at the end of a story. (Plot Busters)


Okay, this is our last day to spend with this middle grade story that packs a lot of humor and heart.

Let’s talk about Act III. The ending. What some people claim to be the most important part!

Break into three: (external and internal conflict combine for the solution)

I wouldn’t say that the external and internal storylines combined here but they do later. I knew Act III started when her and her mom have a pow wow to make plans with one day left!

Finale: (the climax)

I loved the climax of this book. I’ll just say that Sherry meets the ghost one on one in a graveyard to “catch” him. The climax was everything it should be: suspenseful and emotional.

The cool emotional stuff that really sold me on this book is what made the climax though. Sherry gives the ghost some real time with his sister.

And then, she makes the biggest self sacrifice of all. She realizes that she talks to her mom on and off, where her brother doesn’t at all. So she gives up her 5 minutes that she’s been working toward and gives them to her brother! I was bawling. And honestly, it made this book rise to the top!

Final Image: (Opposite of the opening image)

In the final couple chapters, everything comes full circle. Sherry is respecting the Ruler. She’s being more accepting of her best friend’s boyfriend choices. And she has grown by giving up her real time to her brother.

Best ending ever for this story.

What worked for me?

  • Personal conflict was tied to the mystery
  • Personal motivation to solve the mystery
  • Character arc
  • Hilarious cute voice
  • Sherry became an extremely likeable character with her self-sacrifice.

Have you read any stories lately with an ending you loved and you knew you’d read the next one?

Comments { 13 }

I SO DON’T DO SPOOKY – Act I breakdown.

Welcome to Plot Busters and the story structure breakdown series of this terrific middle grade mystery.

Act I:

Opening Image: (before snapshot of the protagonist’s life)

Sherry is getting ready for school, and the Ruler asks for Sherry’s help to find her missing car keys. We see Sherry’s poor attitude, learn about her boyfriend, her family; and because it’s the third book in the series, we already know a bit about her.

Theme stated: (What is the story really about?)

Not finding a specific statement, the theme was obvious as I read it. It’s about family and self-sacrifice.

Set-up:

For me, there is less flexibility with structure when it comes to mysteries. Early on, the mystery needs to be introduced, clues planted, and the detective introduced, who has motivation to solve the mystery. I SO DON’T DO SPOOKY has all of that.

Hero:

Sherry, a middle schooler, with emotional lessons to learn, takes on any challenge with spunk and fight.

Goals:

Outer: Sherry and her mom must figure out who is stalking the Ruler.

Inner: Sherry must be more respectful to the Ruler while solving the case, or she won’t be allowed to work with her mom anymore.

Stakes:

For sherry, it’s all about spending time with her mom, but evolves into saving her step mom. For a middle schooler those are high stakes.

Six things that need fixing: (or the plants in the plant and pay-off concept)

1. Sherry does not respect her stepmother.

2. Someone is hiding the Ruler’s stuff in the house and the Ruler blames Sherry.

3. Sherry misses her mom.

4. Someone is stalking the Ruler.

Okay, so it’s not always six.

Catalyst:

In chapter one, someone is playing pranks on Sherry’s stepmother and Sherry is getting blamed. Call it a clue or the inciting incident. But everyday life has changed. The question is – what is Sherry going to do about it?

Debate: (asks some kind of question of the main character)

Is Sherry going to help her stepmother or continue to be disrespectful?

In chapter 4, the real mystery is stated. Sherry meets with her mom and her mom’s counselor. Together, they are given the mission to protect the ruler and find her stalker. With one rule – Sherry must show respect to the Ruler.

She might not have come to that conclusion on her own, but what middle schooler would?

The debate section in this story isn’t huge. Honestly, I think the question of how Sherry treats the Ruler is more a part of the character arc than the debate. What do you think?

And with the introduction of the official mystery, Act I ends.

Do you have all these elements in your Act I? Or do you not even pay attention to that sort of thing?

Comments { 15 }

Plot Busters – I So Don’t Do Spooky – Is it high concept?

Surprise! I’m giving you a dose of Plot Busters early. On Monday, myself and 24 other self published and indie published authors are launching The Indelibles blog. There will be chances to win a Kindle Fire and all our books in a blog hop. So be sure to check it out!

Now let’s move on to I So Don’t Do Spooky by Barrie Summy. I just love this series.

Logline: (from book) Thirteen-year-old Sherry helps her mother, a ghost, to investigate who is stalking Sherry’s stepmother, but Sherry is also very busy with school and friends, while her mother is also striving for a gold medal in the Ghostlympics.

Eh, this logline is just okay. I like my shorter version below.

Thirteen-year-old Sherry solves the mystery of who is stalking her stepmother to earn real time with her mother’s ghost.

High concept?

Let’s see. Ghosts, a mystery, high emotional stakes – I’d say yes. (I end up thinking that every book is high concept when the emotional stakes are high. So technically, this book might not be high concept. But that’s just semantics.)

1. Does the character offer the most conflict for the situation?

I love Sherry’s shopaholic, peppy personality. This is a mystery series and I love that we don’t have a noir detective, but a cute middle schooler who just wants to hang with her friends and boyfriend.

It’s not her personality or flaws that bring conflict to this mystery. It’s the fact that she wants to spend more time with her mom’s ghost. High emotional stakes.

2. Does she have the longest way to go emotionally?

In some ways, yes. Her dad has remarried one of Sherry’s teachers, who kids call the Ruler. And we can see from the first chapter, that Sherry is struggling accepting her as a mother figure.

3. Demographically pleasing?

I’d say yes. This is a perfect mix of contemporary with a bit of paranormal to make it fun. This story would appeal to middle schoolers and elementary age girls.

4. Is it primal?

Yes, definitely. Sherry misses her mom and longs to spend “real time” minutes with her. Without this emotional aspect, the story would not have carried the same level of impact.

If you’re wondering how to add emotional impact to your humorous middle grade or young adult story, look no further than this book. Summy does a masterful job. Lots to learn.

A week from Monday, we’ll cover Act I. So if you want to join in the fun and give Plot Busters a whirl, pick the book up at your library and break down Act I! We’ll compare notes. (Because really this is not my area of mavenness. I’m learning, just like you.)

Comments { 13 }