Tuesday, September 10, 2013

X Marks the Spot (Part 3)

 Okay, y'all, we've talked about the catalyst of a
story: Part 1 HERE and Part 2 HERE.

So now I pick up where we left off.

The catalyst might also be situational; that is, a situation is presented

that grounds the reader in the story and reveals what the story is about. 

Sometimes the author chooses to ground the reader in character and setting before getting into the action. 

In A Single Shard, by Linda Sue Park, the catalyst doesn’t come until the second chapter. 

The main character is Tree-ear, a poor orphan boy who lives under a bridge with Crane-man. Park uses the first chapter to set up the story: the main characters, the setting, the time-period, the backstory. 

But the reader doesn’t yet know what the story is about. 

By Chapter Two, we have learned about Tree-ear’s fascination with potters, and, in particular, with Min, the most brilliant potter in the village. 

When Tree-ear accidentally damages one of Min’s belongings on page 18, Tree-ear asks the potter, “Could I not work for you as payment?” 
Now the reader is beginning to figure out what the story is about. 

On the next page, Min answers, “Yes, all right.” 

We are finished with backstory; we are finished with the setup. 

The action of the story is set in motion. 

Whether your catalyst is a specific action (an inciting incident), a piece of information revealed, or a situation, it should come as early in the story as possible.

Repeat after me: The catalyst should come as early in the story as possible.

1 comment:

Augusta Scattergood said...

I'm trying!
(These catalyst thoughts are coming at a very good time in my writing experience. Even as they make me nuts...)