Wednesday, September 26, 2007

No Holes in Holes

Since I suffer from OHD, I'm going to share some more of the highlighted stuff from Les Edgerton's book, Hooked.

He breaks a well-written opening into clearly defined parts. I am particularly intrigued by the terms "surface problem" vs "story-worthy problem" and "surface goal" vs "story-worthy goal."

("Surface", of course, means just that - the specific, clearly defined problem that might set the story in motion. "Story-worthy", on the other hand, is the larger, big-picture problem woven throughout the story - what the story is ultimately about as far as theme, etc.)

Here is how Edgerton breaks down the opening of Holes by Louis Sachar:
  • Opening backstory: The curse on Stanley's family; why Stanley is on the bus going to juvie camp
  • Setup: Camp Green Lake and the warden; intro to Stanley
  • Inciting Incident: Stanley sent to Camp Green Lake
  • Surface problem: To find a way to survive camp and the warden
  • Surface goal: To return home
  • Story-worthy problem: To overcome the family curse
  • Story-worthy goal: To become a "self-sufficient young adult who no longer allows himself to be a victim"
I love those labels. They're nice and tidy and organized.

But did Sachar really think about them while he was writing the first draft?

A good writer is certainly aware of structure and uses it wisely during first draft - but I think that the real solid walls of structure probably come during revision.

1 comment:

jama said...

Great stuff, Barbara. I think you're right. There's so much to worry about during that first draft, trying to begin properly. I think revision is the time to go over this checklist, and to really add the mortar to the building bricks you set down.