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Well, there is a reason that romance novels make up 75% of paperback sales in the US. :)

Another good part of narrative structure that makes good relationships difficult to blog about (for fear of stepping on someone else's privacy), is the "aside" feature, where the audience feels like they know something that one or both of the characters do not. It's the act of drawing the audience in, and interacting with them through the words, that makes that kind of thing so successful.


And tucked semi-innocuously in this post is a huge piece of information -- "my most recent roommate, who just moved out"...


Yes, what happened to the roommate?


You might want to explore some of the literature on myth and fairy tales. I'm thinking primarily of Bruno Bettelheim's The Uses of Enchantment or anything by Joseph Campbell. Carl Jung's work deals with these ideas as well. I think that narrative is desperately important--for one, I think it helps us understand where we fit into the bigger scheme of things. And I think that it's natural for people to seek narrative in their lives in some form, whether it's Lost or Star Wars or romance novels or Middlemarch. I know that personally, while I am increasingly enjoying nonfiction or non-narrative writing, nothing resonates as much with me as narrative work.


How about that extra hour of daylight this time of year, novel concept, eh?


I'm a huge Jennifer Crusie fan, and have recommended her and her online workshopping. Welcome to Temptation is cute (I named my little red car Sophie, and someone was kind enough to get me seat covers and floormats with a bunch of cherries and Wild scribbled on them) and mostly about sex, but I think Fast Women is a more serious novel -- about family, marriage, divorce, partnership -- and you might like it better. I think Crusie, who has been married and divorced and has an adult daughter, wrote more of what she knew there.


Music theory definitely has a lot to say about narrative structure. I've studied it for many more years than I should have, and I still think in terms of sonata form or baroque dances when writing. Even in my dissertation on the very non-musical topic of accounting fraud...

It has also done an excellent job of describing how to handle the build up and release of tension on all levels of the structure. Schenkarian analysis is my favorite.


Gretchen! You are a girl after mein eigene Herz! I would also recommend M.L.von Franz's book on "the Shadow in Myth and Fairy Tales." Again, she's a Jungian: having read that book at a (perhaps too) young age, I got the very golden key to making up stories for children. ALL children can tell when the story is RIGHT and when it is not, and there are conventions to fairy tales and myths that must not be broken. If you know the tricks, you can make up new tales that match the formulae well enough to be very satisfying. While we big kids are more flexible, children want their stories to fit the mold and are immensely satisfied when they do and angry when they do not.

I think that you are right, Sherry, about pattern seeking and narrative arc. But the arc does nothing except in the service of the characters. If the motivations don't match, it won't fly. It is those common truths about people that make stories go so much the same way under so many circumstances, I think.

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