Solarbird (solarbird) wrote,

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Repost: Beware the wineglass-shaped story.

Nick posted a really interesting bit of story structure advice/commentary over on his LJ, and I think I have enough writers or would-be writers here that it'd be of interest.

Originally posted by nihilistic_kid at Beware the wineglass-shaped story.

When I say "Beware the wineglass-shaped story" I mean it in the sense one means it when one says, "Beware of the dog." They're not all bad, but many are dangerous. A wineglass-shaped story is one basically shaped like this:

First there is generally a long sentence about the setting. A character can be introduced right away, that's for sure. But the character is primarily there to think about the setting. So to better explain it to the audience, you see. All the senses are engaged, as is the writing-class rule. Then finally, dialogue.
Short elliptical sentences of dialogue.
A tiny bit of action.
Some more.
Then it picks up a bit again.
The setting becomes important, something is discovered.
Then, there is a finger-wagging moral, or a piquant little turn of phrase. Thus, you know that the author has decided to stop writing. The story stops rather than ends.

I've always been bothered by the wineglass-shaped story, but I didn't have a theory of it until the World Fantasy Convention last year, when I attended a group reading and all the stories save one were structured just like this. Most of them had been published in minor venues, or not at all. Only more recently have I tentatively determined the cause of the wine glass-shaped story, thanks to some teaching experiences. There are two dragons, each taking a bite out of one side of such stories.

Click through to the rest of "Beware the wineglass-shaped story."
Tags: writing
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