Karina Sumner-Smith (ksumnersmith) wrote,
Karina Sumner-Smith

Structure and Story-Shape: A Show of Hands, Please

So I have tried and tried and tried to explain to people what I perceive as "story-shape," which is central to my experience of writing and understanding fiction. I once discussed the concept with msagara for something like three hours straight and still, I think, confused her with my poor attempt to put it into words. The closest I've come is a list: story-shape is visual (intensely so, at times), and it's also a sense, and a sensation of movement or of stillness, and a feeling of density, and an intuiting of direction, and like touching an object in the dark. Sometimes all at once. And also rather like none of those things, because it's itself and those are only analogies.

To tell the truth, I sort of shut up about the whole thing and continued on with my life, never mentioning it until I end up telling someone in a critique that their ending is coiled too tightly, while the middle is lopsided and sort of swampy, while I love the rolling-wave movement of scene three (or something to that effect).

And then, in the middle of a normal LJ-reading thing, I come across this line in an interesting post by matociquala regarding "broken" books:

When you hold the book in your head, give it a spin on a fingertip, and you can see it wobble because the center of gravity is off somehow.

And that's it. dolphin__girl, how many times have you heard me complaining about spinning a story and having it wobble?

Does anyone else experience this?

And maybe matociquala's experience and mine diverge at that point, but it made me wonder: what if my story-shape thing isn't so odd after all? Or maybe my experience is only mildly odd in comparison to the great weirdness contained in other authors' brains.

How do you experience story structure?
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