Plot Structure + Resonance

Are you writing an archplot, a miniplot or an antiplot story? Does your story have a single protagonist, or multiple protagonists? The answers to these questions will have a huge impact on the way you structure your story and in this season, Valerie will tell you why.

All new stories evolve from the stories that came before them. Understanding how to tap into a reader’s desire to revisit the stories they long for is essential to writing a book readers will love. This is the study of Resonance (recurring themes, motifs, and conventions in writing) and it's Melanie's focus this season. 

Are you writing a novel with more than one protagonist and/or plotline? Are you using flashbacks or writing a series? If so, this is an episode you simply must check out. This week Valerie and Melanie review their key takeaways from ten weeks of study into story form (plot structure) and resonance.

The shape of this story (the film version, anyway) changes dramatically depending on who you think the protagonist is. It’s Jay Gatsby, right? Ah, maybe! Or the protagonist could be Nick Carraway! And exactly why are we still reading, watching and studying this story 100 years after it was written? In this week’s episode of the Story Nerd podcast, Valerie and Melanie discuss all this and more. Don’t miss it!

Seriously, what the heck is a quasi antiplot story? It sounds pretty fringe; like some crazy, obscure little bit of story theory that writers will never, ever, need to know. Sure, story theorists can fill their boots with it but if 99% of audiences expect an archplot story, why should we bother with quasi antiplot (whatever that is)? Well, it turns out that it can be the secret sauce for story innovation. Nora Ephron knew that and used it to write one of the most successful romcoms of all time. It also boosted her career into the stratosphere and led to a string of other successful movies. So, if understanding quasi antiplot can result in all that then yeah, we’ll have what she’s having.

As we saw in the Aliens episode, resonance is a powerful tool for anyone developing a series. But what happens when resonance is used ineffectively? In this episode, Melanie takes us on a deep dive into the Star Wars universe and explains why The Force Awakens did a face plant. (Because she’s a superfan, she also provides details on the inner workings of lightsabres, so if you’ve ever wondered why Kyloren’s looks so bizarre, here’s your answer.) In terms of structure, Valerie has discovered two interesting twists on the archplot form that just might help you jazz up your novel.

Well this is one wild ride of an episode! Wayne’s World is an antiplot story that offers up plenty of writing lessons that surprised the heck out of Valerie and Melanie. It gave them the giggles too (be sure to listen all the way to the end). So sit back and enjoy this episode with Wayne, Garth, Valerie and Melanie. Party on, story nerds!

If you’re writing a series (no matter what the genre), this is one episode you won’t want to miss. How did James Cameron use Resonance to create a sequel that viewers love? And, how does understanding a character’s arc help writers keep a story fresh from film to film, or book to book? Valerie and Melanie discuss all this and more!

Hold on to your hats! Robert Altman’s 1975 classic, Nashville, has 24 main characters and more storylines that you can count. If you’re writing a story with two or more POVs and/or storylines, you can’t afford to skip this episode! Mind blown. 🤯

Melanie loves this film but it gives Valerie the creeps. They’ll never see eye-to-eye on this one, but thanks to story theory, their subjective opinions don’t get in the way of appreciating what this story has to offer. Guillermo del Toro has innovated the heck out of a courtship love story in a way that is nothing short of masterful. If you’re looking for ways to innovate your story, regardless of the genre, this is the episode for you!

It’s easy to think that a Miniplot story is simply one where the protagonist has a strong internal arc. But that’s only part of it. There’s much, much more to it than that. So if your novel features a main character who changes over the course of the story, you definitely want to give this episode a listen!

The marketing people at Lego are geniuses. In 2014 they released The Lego Movie, launching a lucrative movie franchise and driving sales of their product through the roof. The storytelling isn’t fancy, but it sure is solid. In this week’s episode Valerie and Melanie look at Lego Batman (2017) and how the company uses resonance and storytelling fundamentals to create movies viewers love.

Season 5 kicks off with Men in Black. Valerie is studying plot structure, and Melanie is studying resonance. Now, admittedly, plot structure doesn’t sound very sexy but it’s one of the first decisions a writer must make. If you haven’t chosen a structure for your novel, how will you know if what you’ve written is working? Do you know what the structure options are? Resonance is the ability to evoke or suggest images, emotions, and memories, and all successful writers use it to draw on their readers’ experiences. So, how are you putting it to use in your own WIP?

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