Construction 101

Part 3 of the 5 Part Series on Serial Novels

Building a story is a bit like building a house.

First, you need a really strong foundation. In story lingo, that’s the introduction of setting, characters, and the inciting incident. (For a recap on those terms, see Part 1 of the series.) If you lose the reader in this section… well, they’re gone forever.

Next, you need a good floor plan (the Rising Action) that lets you move sensibly from room to room and the framing (Development of Conflict) that we added in Part 2.

This week, the story moves into the Twist & Reversal phase. Consider this the secret room behind the bookcase that makes your home unique (Twist) and any last minute redesigns to the floor plan (Reversal) that always seem to happen once you start construction.

Let’s see what happens…

Previously on What Price, Charlie

Amber hooch was the hardest to fake.

That’s what Edna the waitress had told Charlie the night the raid evacuated them to the alley.

He called her Daisy. She was beautiful and a little helpless, like the flower.

And, tonight, he needed one-hundred proof courage to ask her out. One perk of working in a gin joint was the gin, amber colored or otherwise. He didn’t care that it was made in someone’s bathtub.

He downed his drink. But before he could utter a word, the muscled brute they called The Doctor walked in, marched right up to Daisy and grabbed the back of her hair, holding her captive.

“Are you a common tramp, now Edna? Are you? I’ve seen you with that piano boy.”

The man wrenched her across the counter toward him. “We made a deal, doll. Remember? As long as you’re my gal, your family don’t go down in flames. That’s what we call in the business an In—” slap “—fie—” slap “—night—” slap “—Agreement. You got that, Edna? Constant. Forever.” He shoved her backward, the movement causing her to stumble.

“Now, bring me some brown. I’ll be in my office.”

And now…

In a weird show of forced diplomacy, Charlie had waited behind the club as Daisy asked instead of bashing in the Doctor’s face with his elbow. Now, he watched in amazement as his gritty blonde walked toward him, head high. [1]

“Run away with me Daisy. We can have a happy life somewhere that maniac will never find us.”

“And leave my family here to suffer? I can’t do that, Charlie. I’m sorry. The Doctor has documents falsely implicating my father in a bank heist and I’m the only thing between him and jail.”

“Then we have to get those documents!”

Notes & Sources

  1. I’m a little weary of forcing prompt words into the story, so this week I dumped them all in the first paragraph (and not all that gracefully, I might add): weird, blonde, amazement, elbow, gritty, diplomacy
  2. To continue my house building analogy…
    • Next week, we’ll be addressing the Climax & Resolution phase of story-building. In the house construction world, that would be that big argument with the builder where you remind him that he bid the job for X with a completion date of Y and he’d better well meet those milestones… or else! And then you watch with bated breath to see what happens next.
    • Week 5 tackles Denouement, that part of story-building where all the loose ends are wrapped up… the landscaping and final painting phase of the home, if you will.

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