Fundamental human journeys (tip 73) Reply

Michael Scott has written novels, films, and plays in a variety of genres for adults and children and teens. He’s learned that it doesn’t much matter what sort of story you’re writing, or for whom your writing it: “A good story is always a journey. It is about the people the hero meets along the way and how they change him or her.” Now that we’re thinking about the themes of stories, it becomes apparent that a character’s journey is inextricably bound with a story’s theme. And since the theme has to be something general and powerful, something universal and impactful, it’s not surprising that there aren’t that many journeys that really matter.

Have a look at this list of fundamental human journeys, and let me know in the comments whether there are any that I’ve missed:

Fundamental human journeys

Material

(simple transitions based on external changes – these are more likely to work in, say, a young adult genre novel than in a literary short story, but often in genre fiction a material transition will be made possible by a psychological transition)

Peril <-> Safety

Single <-> Married

Powerless <-> Powerful

Poor <-> Rich

Obscure <-> Famous

Picked on <-> Popular

Psychological

Not seizing the day <->  Seizing the day

Isolation <-> Human connection

Love <-> Loss

Despair <-> Hope

Obliviousness <-> Awareness of mortality

Innocence <-> Loss of innocence

Inhibition <-> Boldness

Desire <-> Contentment

Self-doubt <-> Self-acceptance

No sense of sublime <-> Sense of the sublime

Search for meaning <-> Accepting meaninglessness

Fear <-> Acceptance of death

Faith <-> Lack of faith

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Theme: why your story matters (tip 70) 2

Why should anyone care about your story? After all, they’ve never met the people you’re writing about. In this introduction to the importance of a story’s theme, I’ll make reference to David Foster Wallace’s short story “Forever Overhead.” You can read this story online here.


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Free writing critique: The Ill-Made Witch by Mandy Keene 3

Many thanks to Mandy Keene who has sent us an excerpt from her novel, The Ill-Made Witch. We’ll leave this post live for a week, during which time we’ll welcome any constructive comments. At the end of the week, the author will receive a free critique from one of our writing tutors. (If you’d like to share your work for critique, please see here for all the necessary information.)

Extract

Chapter 1


Mattie hated hospital food.

Today it was bread that was older than she was. She had no appetite, but all her movements were being watched. Everything, from the beeping of the pulse monitor to each sentence she said. But there was no point complaining to anyone. She could almost hear their replies: “Well, you landed yourself here.” More…