Tuesday, October 26, 2010

TMW-Across The Sea

ocean clouds dreams
Picture property of Agnes

Lisa talked about "The Structure of The Story" ,or Gustav Freytag's triangle.  There's exposition, background information needed to understand the story; rising action, internal and related conflicts being introduced; climax, or turning point of the story, from good to bad or bad to good.  Falling action, where the protagonist winning or losing against the antagonist is in doubt. Finally, resolution or conclusion of the story.

This week, I'm going to deal with exposition of "Across The Sea". The reason for this is the upcoming National Novel Writing Month in November or NaNoWriMo or NaNo.  I don't usually outline or structure my short story.  I just sit down and begin to write.  But in November, I've got to write 50,000 words, so I feel I need to have structure to follow to write a novel. 

Exposition, per the article on Freytag's Pyramid, consists of early material providing the theme, establishing the setting, and introducing the major characters and sometimes early hints of the coming conflict. I have one major character, Andrea or Andy for short. The setting is by the sea, what sea? Do we need to give it a name or use a true location?
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Andy sat by the sea, listening to the lapping water as the small waves continually rolled onto the beach. The brown pea shaped pebbles quivered in the water. She reached down with her hand and picked up a few of them. Thinking about the past three days since she had arrived, just waiting for some word that all were safe.

Andy is short for Andrea.  Andrea Carmichael was born to Air Force Major Thomas Carmichael and Lillian Carmichael while they were stationed at Kadena AFB, Okinawa, on April 15, 1980.  Maybe that's why Andy loved anything to do with the Orient.  The smell of sandalwood and flowers.  The beautiful and fragile artwork.  The gentleness of the people. She was twelve when her Dad was transferred to another assignment, but she never forgot the years at Okinawa. Eighteen years had passed, she had turned thirty last month.   Andy thought about this past Christmas when her Mom, Dad and younger brother, Danial, had decided to plan a return trip to Okinawa.  She became excited about the trip, making plans, emailing back and forth as to where they would stay, where they would go and who they would see.  

Since her divorce a year ago, Andy wasn't bringing anyone. Emily, Danial's wife, was coming, so that made five people to plan for. Andy would be the first to arrive as she would be leaving from Birmingham, Alabama and flying over.  Everyone else couldn't finish up their work until the following day, so they were going to leave from New Orleans. What a difference a day can make.   

1 comment:

Lisa said...

Judy,
I like the prelude about exposition and your plan to use it to the story to create structure.

Your first paragraph does that; it lets the reader nestle into the setting seaside with Andy. She is presented as reflective and expectant. “. . . all were safe” hints at trouble ahead. Good job creating foreshadowing in your stories. The title is intriguing. MMmmmm!

The POV you use in the next paragraph to give background info on Andy is well presented. As the reader, I bought into the whole I need to know frame of mind. We learn her age, her history and that the story is in Okinawa, not just any beach anywhere. Learning the beach is in Okinawa added depth to the story and is my answer to the question do we need to give it a name or use a true location. Having that info come here in this paragraph is perfect. It didn’t need to be spelled out in the first paragraph. The frame work for many kinds of conflicts is laid here and you have several secondary players to make use of as the story develops.

I love the Orient as well. I have read Pearl S Buck, Lisa See and others who set stories in Asia. I never tire of that part of the world as setting when the story is well laced. You evoke sensory memories for Andy that create a feel necessary for the reader to connect with the character. this is what keep a reader reading. I was all ready to settle into a tale of suspense and conflict when you gave me the cliff hanger sentence:

“What a difference a day can make.” I was not ready for that to be a stopping place.

You got me to me to climb your scaffolding of structure, built my interest,
and then deftly left me with a rampant imagination of all the possibilities.

I want more. This can’t end here. What is the plan now? Do I get this in installments or what?

Well done but I want more sooner rather than later....
You have provided a good example of what exposition can be used for as the story pulls the reader in.

A question: Do pebbles quiver? or seem to quiver?
And she is thinking about the past three days but the last line says, ”What a difference a day can make?” This was a hiccup in flow for me.

Good job here, Judy. Thanks. It helps to see how others use exposition to create a way to give the reader story elements without it reading like list.