The Shape of Our Stories

“I see stories as a three-point projectory with you as the wild card.” Author Marion Dane Bauer began her keynote speech at the 2010 SCBWI LA conference with this statement. Her powerful speech was given with such honesty and power I was nearly brought to tears. The following notes were taken during her session:

The Three Point Projectory…

  • One: All books begin with desire. I don’t know how the story will end, but I know what it will feel like when I get there.
  • Two: The story strives for a climax.
  • Three: We read to reach an emotional resolution. Your book’s resolution will hold its theme.

Where Do Stories Begin?

  • In our hearts.
  • Stories are about struggle. They begin with neurosis, anger, fear, unfulfilled longing, etc.
  • I write for my own pity and fear.

A Common Theme in My Writing…

  • The first three novels I wrote have a common frame – losing a parent figure.
  • The common theme wasn’t intentional. I didn’t see that I was doing it. But when someone pointed it out to me my first reaction was sheer panic! I am writing the same story over and over again! But then I remembered that Hemingway repeated some themes too, and I felt better.
  • Don’t think about the pattern. It simply happens. I feel my way into it.

Arguing with Your Editor…

  • I told my editor what needed to stay for the book to still be my story, and she told me what needed to change for her to publish it.
  • Concept is not a story.

Answering Your Deepest Questions…

  • Desire has to rise up through you in order for it to work for you.
  • The feeling response to “said” issue, you must let that move through you with each story. This is what feeds you as a writer. This is what will answer your deepest questions.
  • If what pulls you (writer) forward is what will cause you to want to write your story.
  • The emotional resolution is your truth. This is not something you can teach. This is something that you must feel and explore many more times.
  • Discover your stories, and in the discovery find your own personal truth.

Marion Dane Bauer has been publishing since 1976 and is the author of more than seventy books. She has written novels, easy readers, both fiction and nonfiction, picture books and novelty books. She has won numerous awards including the ALA Newbery Honor. She recently retired from the faculty at the Vermont College of Fine Arts MFA program and was the young adult faculty chair.

3 thoughts on “The Shape of Our Stories

  1. Pingback: SCBWI LA 2010 – The Quick Take Away « Ingrid's Notes

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