I wrote a poem this morning. You can hear Sparty snoring in the background. He has been sick so I couldn’t bear to move him. Apologies for that.
THE STORY'S STRUCTURE The beginning is here. You set up what might happen. You show all the character’s flaws, What they need to learn, the lie they believe About themselves, about the world. Spoiler: This is what they’ll learn by the end. They will learn that the lie is not true. This is where the character waits in the margins Or hides in cupboards or bedrooms To come flouncing or trudging onto the page, Defined by black ink usually, by words and actions and a meet-cute. The middle is where things get murky. This is meant to be the bulk of the book’s life. Your character is past the point of no return, They have nestled into a giant peach or a wizard world, And things are fun and games, but not necessarily, Actually, fun unless they are into hard lessons, And everything they want being blocked not just by outside forces— Those beastly antagonists—but also by the lie they keep choosing to believe. But good things happen here, too. Boys fly brooms. Enchanted forests are explored. We are into a world of magic, of falling in love. Until we are not. And that is the end. Which sounds terrifying, doesn’t it? It’s a bed without a head on a pillow. It’s a final set of empty pages without words. That’s too negative. This is what it is: The end is the place where realizations happen For us and for the character we’ve been watching. We find out that we’ve both been believing a lie. We find out that we don’t have to wait in the damn Margins or stay in the lines that march across a life —I mean a page—and we damn sure don’t have to be Plath in a kitchen, Sexton in a garage. Hemingway in the foyer. We can choose to continue. This is what sequels and semicolons are for: For learning all over again; adventuring all over again; becoming all over again. We are more than three act structures, aren’t we? I think we are.