Friday, October 7, 2011

Dramatic Structure/Freytag's Pyramid

Week of October 2—Recent Lessons Learned from Editors
Friday, Ocrober 7—Dramatic Structure/Freytag’s Pyramid

Today’s post isn't a quote from an editor, but it's based on training delivered by an editor at the Florida SCBWI Mid-year Meeting in Orlando this summer. The editor presented Freytag’s Pyramid and used it to talk about the structure of picture books.

Every picture book needs structure. Authors use various tools to help them create that structure—three-act screen play structure, the Plot Clock,  and Freytag’s Pyramid are three examples I’ve explored on Picture This! The structure adds up to the plot.

Sadly, most picture book manuscripts I critique are lacking plot or some aspect of plot. The editor in Orlando was reminding us we first need to establish the world of the main character and create a problem for the main character (Exposition), then add Rising Action (which usually comes in the form of attempts to solve the problem that fail), which leads to the Climax (often the darkest, most hopeless moment in the story and the main character solving the problem), and then we can have Falling Action (everything that happens after the problem is solved by the main character and all other loose ends are wrapped up), which leads to the Denouement or the ahh-hhh moment at the end of the book when the story ends.

If you and I look for these elements in our stories, if we plan them out, fill them in, beef them up . . . then we will have a manuscript with plot which will automatically stand our manuscript head-and-shoulders above the crowd of competition.

Are you ready to add some structure to your story? Freytag-it, baby!


Leslie Gorin said...

Great week of editors' insights, Rob! I'm off to buy a stage, a hook, an egg-timer, and a pyramid :)


Rob Sanders said...

Leslie, you will use them all well, too! Go forth and conquer!