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My life and the story structure

On “Writing Your Life Story” event Bashar recommended that we study story structure, in order to write our life story in such a way, that it would be believable to us, as it would match a certain archetype, “Hero’s Journey”, that we have embedded very deeply.

So starting to look at the story structure points, I’m starting to understand, what he meant. Indeed, looking at my life like this opens a lot of new doors for me, as now I can see it in a more empowered way.

Victor Frankl said, that a person can survive any challenge, if they know, what purpose it has, what goal it serves. If they know, that there’s some sense to it, some point to it.

I think, that’s the first thing that the story structure opens for me.

Here’re two I just found, very interesting:

“One good model for story structure (taught to me by Bruce Holland Rogers) is Algis Budrys’s seven point story structure. It has:

a character,
in a situation,
with a problem,
who tries repeatedly to solve his problem,
but repeatedly fails, (usually making the problem worse),
then, at the climax of the story, makes a final attempt (which might either succeed or fail, depending on the kind of story it is), after which
the result is “validated” in a way that makes it clear that what we saw was, in fact, the final result.

Another good one (taught to me by Steven Barnes) is Joseph Campbell’s Hero’s Journey:

The hero is confronted with a challenge,
rejects it,
but then is forced (or allowed) to accept it.
He travels on the road of trials,
gathering powers and allies, and
confronts evil—only to be defeated.
This leads to a dark night of the soul, after which
the hero makes a leap of faith that allows him to
confront evil again and be victorious.
Finally, the student becomes the teacher.”

“For example, lots of stories can be thought of as the first few steps on the Hero’s Journey: a challenge, a rejection of the challenge, and then an acceptance of the challenge. The acceptance of the challenge is the climax of the story. The “validation” segment of the story should imply the rest of the Hero’s Journey. The reader should end the story knowing that there will be a road of trials, that evil will be confronted, and so on.

Lots of other stories can be thought of as just the dark night of the soul and the leap of faith. The early steps along the hero’s journey can be filled in with flashbacks or simply implied by the circumstances of the characters as the story begins. However it happens, the reader needs to learn that the hero accepted the challenge, confronted evil, and was defeated. The story ends with the reader knowing that the hero will face evil again and this time be victorious.”

“Geoffrey A. Landis had a pretty good description of the essential core of a short story. A story needs to:

Require the character to make a choice,
show that choice by actions, and
those actions must have consequences.

That’s bare-bones enough that you really can’t leave any of those elements out. It isn’t good enough for the character to make a choice that isn’t required by the story. It isn’t good enough to have the character make a choice that is entirely in his head with no resulting actions. It isn’t good enough for the character to make a choice where the result is that everything is the same as it would have been anyway.”

Philip Brewer, Story Structure in Short Stories

How interesting! It’s like, I’m reading about my life. Starting to understand it better. Seeing it more as exciting, intriguing, interesting, worth to live, valuable, having sense.

Or this:

“Classic story structure begins with plot; plot is WHAT HAPPENS.”

“A theme — your message or meaning — is revealed through plot.”

“plots that work:


“Development usually accounts for 70 to 80 percent of the mass of the story.” (and you’re waiting for the manifestation, like me? :))

“But you must offer your readers a definite resolution to the story’s Conflict.”

“When the Conflict of a story has been resolved, what’s left? The Consequences of that story. How have your protagonist and his world changed — or stubbornly refused to change — as a result of the story? The French call this part of the story the ‘denouement’ or ‘unraveling.’ At the end of Dickens’s ‘A Christmas Carol,’ Scrooge shows us that he’s changed. How? By climbing out of bed, throwing open his window and asking an urchin on the street below what day it is. When he learns that it’s Christmas, Scrooge instructs the boy to buy the biggest turkey in the butcher’s window for Tiny Tim’s family. When the boy returns, Scrooge pays him, laughing while he hands the money over. That’s right — Scrooge laughs while paying for something! He has changed! It’s a textbook denouement.”

“But if it doesn’t have Conflict, Development, and Climax, it isn’t a story. If you don’t believe that, just try to tell a satisfying anecdote that lacks these components. Or tell a joke that lacks classic story structure, and see if anyone laughs.”

“Of course, you aren’t required to use this structure in telling stories. But if you do, however, your stories, novellas and novels will work. That is, when people are done reading one of your pieces of fiction, they will feel as if they’ve been told a story. Not a ‘character sketch,’ but a real story.”

Adam Sexton, Classic Story Structure Begins with Plot

“Once upon a time, there was a thirsty man on a couch. He got up off the couch, went to his kitchen, searched through his refrigerator, found a soda, drank it, and returned to his couch, thirst quenched.

That was “perfect story structure.” On the other hand, the story sucked.

Here’s a converse example:

Once upon a time, a car exploded. A Navy Seal killed a werewolf. Two beautiful naked women had sex with each other, then a robot shot the moon with a Jesus-powered laser. The world became overpopulated by zombies. The End.

Lot of exciting, creative stuff happening, but very little structure. Again, boo, but the lesbian scene did give me a boner.

What do you want? You want both. You want to be cool, but you’re going to be cooler if the structure is there. Cool stuff with no structure is like that perfect scene you recorded when you left the lens cap on. “Guess you had to be there.” Show me an army of zombies and I might say “cool zombies,” but I’m not going to “be there.” “

That’s exactly what Bashar was saying: when we’re trying to rewrite the scenario of our life, but do not do it with the story structure, we’re “not there”.

Then I started thinking, but if I’m expecting that I get something through troubles, okay, “journey”, then it will surely come through troubles, won’t it?.. And maybe I could expect it easier?

Then I found, that I can say, that I’m already on a stage, where the development is close to its end, all the “bad stuff” is already in the past, and now I can expect good things. This matches the way AH tell it, by the way: that step one is actually behind me (as is step 2), and now I can just align with my Vortex and get the good stuff. That made me feel good. :)

“And what are those steps? Class?

1) You
2) Need
3) Go
4) Search
5) Find
6) Take
7) Return
8) Change”


What an interesting thing life is.. Thank you, Bashar, for showing me this angle. :)

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