Goat Voyeurs UFOs are Everywhere and Why You Should Write B Stories

Dogs Are Smarter Than People: Writing Life, Marriage and Motivation
Goat Voyeurs UFOs are Everywhere and Why You Should Write B Stories
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Screenwriter Blake Snyder and his Save the Cat method really made the term/lingo “B” story and “A” story super popular. And I think sometimes that damn “B” story gets us all confused a bit, right?

So, basically let’s just go over the terms first.

What the heck is an A story and a B story?

The A story is the book or movie’s big essence. People call it the “dramatic” core. It is the big plotline that the hero of the story follows on her journey.

The B story is the subplot basically. It supports the “A” story. It sometimes feels absolutely unrelated.

The FlyingWrestler blog defines it.

“It’s a secondary story that has its own beginning, middle and end, and is focused on its own problem, separate from but intertwined with the A Story.”

The scriptmag writes ,

“The B Story is your character’s secondary motivation or mission – the OTHER thing they have to accomplish. Your B Story may be a second problem or issue that your main character has to fix. And while your A-Story presents itself at the inciting incident and is solidified at the end of the first act with the acceptance of the adventure, your B-Story often can’t be identified UNTIL the second act begins, because it’s what is illuminated by the adventure beginning.

The FlyingWrestler blog again says,

“Just like the main A Story, the B Story’s main character should have a problem involving something external, which has its own significant life stakes. That means the problem isn’t only an internal issue, involving their need to grow and change in some way.”

So, the question becomes: Does my story have a B story? Or is it all A?

You don’t have to have a B story, but it can be helpful.

“The classic use of B Story in a movie is a romantic relationship that is secondary to a non-romantic A Story. The potential romantic partner often pressures the main character, intentionally or not, to deal with their “stuff,” and consider changing. But as with most such internal growth, the character doesn’t engage in it willingly, with “growth” as the goal. No, characters (like real people) tend to avoid change, until really significant external problems force them into it. Typically the pressures of both the A and B Story problems combine to do that. But even then, the hero usually doesn’t really change until some key moment in the final act where they (usually) snatch victory from the jaws of defeat.

“But first, both A and B Story usually reach a rock bottom “All is Lost” moment. So if the B Story is about a relationship, it’s usually broken and over at that point, as are the main character’s hopes for their A Story goal. They will have one last chance to try to solve both in the final act.

Flying Wrestler

If the B Story is a romantic relationship, something has to be in the way of it. It has to be focused on a conflict, and not going well. If two people fall for each other and get together and have a lot of sex, etc., without some looming threat to the relationship, that’s not a story. That’s a positive development for the main character. And we audiences get bored by positive developments. We thrive on problems and conflicts.

Scriptmag gives a great example:

The Wizard of Oz – Dorothy’s A-Story is to find the Wizard and get home, but the B-Story becomes helping Oz and her new friends. She had no idea she was going to have to do that until the adventure began.

Usually when a crisis happens the B story acts like John Wayne in a movie and comes in and saves the A story. They merge and the reader goes, “Ah! They were connected the whole damn time. Doh!”

This is true about life, too, right? We all want to become writers, but then we have this B story of another career or self-sabotage and we might resist it, and then it’s like? Will our B story come save our A story?

But that’s about us as writers, not our actual books. So let’s get back to that.

The B story or subplot changes how your reader sees the main plot, right?

What does the B story actually do for you? Because it’s all about you, right? Of course it is!

It allows you to bulk out your story, but it can sometimes add too much bulk to your story.

It can help with pacing and structure. It’s especially helpful if you make things really dangerous for those minor characters early on while things are kind of still in the set-up for the main characters. This is a bit of a variant from Snyder’s plot form, which tends to insert that B Story at the end of act one.

It allows you to skip boring scenes in the A story sometimes. How does it do that? By creating a jump to another character or another moment/interest.

If you do use other characters to carry that B story, then you have to make sure the reader is interested enough in those other characters. Like in Lord of the Rings. Tolkein puts everyone into smaller units. They each get their own goals. Each group gets their own plotlines. And in the finale every one of those groups matter.

WRITING TIP OF THE POD

Don’t be afraid to be complicated. A good novel isn’t a picture book and you want there to be a subplot.


DOG TIP FOR LIFE

Don’t be a one-trick wonder. Have multiple goals and live life to the fullest. Don’t just be an A story.

THINGS WE TALKED ABOUT IN RANDOM THOUGHTS

For more about Lego theft, check out here on NPR.

More about UFOs? Check out this NYT article.

RESOURCES

Script.mag has a great article here.

Here’s the Flying Wrestler’s take that we’ve quoted.

And the peeping-tom goat is all here.

SHOUT OUT!

The music we’ve clipped and shortened in this podcast is awesome and is made available through the Creative Commons License. 

Here’s a link to that and the artist’s website. Who is this artist and what is this song?  It’s “Summer Spliff” by Broke For Free.

And we have a new podcast, LOVING THE STRANGE, which we stream live on Carrie’s Facebook and Twitter and LinkedIn on Fridays. Her Facebook and Twitter handles are all carriejonesbooks or carriejonesbook.

Here’s the link. This week’s podcast is all about strange habits.

Writing Tip Wednesday – Subplot me up, baby

Subplots, it sounds sort of — lesser, doesn’t it? It’s not the real plot; it’s the plot beneath. It’s not the master plot. It’s the plot below.

Subplots are actually made of awesome. They make your story richer, denser, more expansive.

What do subplots do for your story?

  1. They keep it interesting by adding detail, action, and character relations.
  2. Make things more complicated.
  3. Give the main theme and plot some backup.

Sub means ‘at a lower level of position,’ but the truth is that if you’re going to use a subplot in your story, you still have to pay attention to the evil thing and make sure that it has the same elements as your regular plot.

To have a successful subplot:

  1. They have to influence the main plot eventually.
  2. They have to connect to the characters in the main plot.
  3. They have to show a variety of experience.

Write Naked-3

And there are three main kinds of subplots:

  • Conflict – Ouch. In Star Wars the fact that Obiwan and Anakin had a whole big history before he became Darth makes their conflict tastier. Same thing with Kylo and Han and everybody else.
  • Expository – The stuff that’s making your plot happen. Oops. Made some hamsters with super predatory DNA that also enlarges them to the size of elephants at HAMSTER WORLD? Yep. There’s a subplot. Some evil guys want to use those hamsters for weapons because one of them was once had a beloved hamster killed by a raging cat? There you go.
  • Romantic – If you’re worried about your main characters getting together or maybe some secondary characters having that big sexy moment? You’ve got a romantic subplot.

Elizabeth Sims writes, “Think of subplots as simply strands of stories that support or drive the main plot.”

In a Writers Digest article, she details ways to add subplots.

The Seven Ways to Add Subplots are Basically:

1. The Isolated Chunk – a side trip

2. The Parallel Line 

3. The Swallowtail  

4. The In-and-Out 

5. The Bookend

6. The Bridge Character

7. The Clue

 

There you go – a subplot primer. Run with it, writers! Master those subs!

 

WRITING NEWS

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A new episode of Dogs are Smarter Than People, the quirky podcast with writing tips, life tips and a random thought came out yesterday! Check it out, like and subscribe!