The Form of Stories by Kurt Vonnegut

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Oops! Matter of habit!

As if one article per day on my blog wasn’t enough, I hacked Martin’s blog to tell you about the form of stories, a concept invented by Kurt Vonnegut!

Kurt Vonnegut is an American novelist born in 1922 and died in 2007.

He is particularly known for his concept of the form of stories.

His idea: it is possible to represent on a graph the emotional journey that the main character will follow and thus guess the emotions experienced by the reader throughout his reading.

But first, a quick introduction, just so you don’t get too lost!

I’m Ethan J Pinault, self-published author, from the Blog!

On this blog you can find nearly 70 articles on writing and self-publishing…

I also send a short daily email to my subscribers called the Maillol!

As with this article, my goal is to help those who wish to write, publish, promote and sell their books…

Thank you very much Martin, for this proposal to exchange articles!

I promise, I’ll give you back your favorite blogger right after you read it!

On my blog, Martin will help you write an irresistible book summary

A captivating story conveys emotion.

If we represent the story in the form of a curve, we must absolutely avoid the flat encephalogram!

Imagine that a person dies, doctors are rushing around the lifeless body to resuscitate him.

A blast of the defibrillator and presto, the curves of the screen are racing again!

This is exactly what you want for your story!

Revive reader interest! Play with your emotions!

To avoid this problem in his novels, Kurt Vonnegut designed a very simple graph!

A base from which you can tell any story:

At the top of the graph: happiness, health, wealth…

At the bottom of the graph: Unhappiness, illness, poverty…

And since a story must have a beginning and an end…

On the left of the graph the beginning and on the right the end!

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In each story, the hero and the main characters go through a succession of events: The famous Monomythic by Joseph Campbell!

(Martin will give you a link, I’m sure he has already written an article on the Monomythic)

Generally, these events are difficult, even insurmountable, and will allow the hero to evolve and move from point A to point B, to change his way of being, of thinking and to review his values.

Point A being the beginning of the story and point B, the end.

The greater the adversity the hero faces – even insurmountable – in the eyes of the reader, the more he will dive into the story.

No one wants to read about a knight who has already defeated the dragon, found the treasure, inherited the castle, married the princess and already had many lovely children… it’s boring!

This is also how the animated Shrek 4 begins, brilliantly titled: Once upon a time!

Shrek, supposed to be the happiest ogre in Faraway Fort, is bored at a hundred cents an hour and dreams of scaring the villagers again like the good old days!

Kurt Vonnegut, the man in a hole!

Kurt Vonnegut found Campbell’s point of view corny and far too complex.

He called it baroque!

He opposed him with his own theory which he called: “the man in a hole”!

It is summarized as follows: the hero has problems, he solves his problems

Everything is going well when suddenly: splash, a ball in the soup, man will suffer, face the problem and emerge from it grown!

People love these kinds of stories and never get tired of them!

Here is the form of this story:

Another example is what he calls: “Boy meets girl”

It begins on an ordinary day in an ordinary life…

The boy (a loser) meets a girl as hot as Monica Bellocchi (young); strangely, the girl thinks it’s great, but suddenly something terrible happens… then the story ends (better than) well.

We all remember the crisp scenes of the American Pie film series ^^

You can find here a video of Kurt Vonnegut where he explains 3 narrative diagrams in a masterclass.

It’s in English, but easy to understand and Vonnegut masters humor like no other!

The six narrative patterns are universal!

We find them everywhere!

In the myths of all cultures, in 18th century novels, in video games, in advertisements and if I have worked well, even in this article!

Some scientists go so far as to say that these narrative patterns are embedded in our DNA!

This is the reason why they would work so well, in all places and all times.

In 2015, a professor at the University of Nebraska, Matthew Jokers, revealed the results of the analysis of 40,000 novels by a supercomputer.

6 narrative frames only cover all of the 40,000 novels studied, including two main ones: “Man in Hole” and “Man on Hill”, which describes the opposite movement.

If you want your story to be a hit with readers, it must be instinctively recognizable by the human brain…

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It is therefore in your interest to understand these narrative patterns and apply them in your novels.

Bernard Weber says in this regard: “One of the easiest structures to analyze is that of Alexandre Dumas’s novel, The Count of Monte Cristo. It’s the structure that works best! If you don’t know what to write (…) redo Monte-Cristo. »

This narrative structure is, you guessed it: “the man in a hole”

Nearly 50% of the 40,000 novels analyzed by Matthew Jokers use “Man in Hole” as a narrative schema!

Here are the 6 forms of stories:

Have fun with the basic graphic!

Take a sheet and a pencil or a board, it’s even better…

And trace the highlights of your story to know whether or not the reader is going to get the yo-yo thrill!

If you have worked well, your story is bound to be found in one of the 6 narrative patterns mentioned above!

If it’s the flat encephalogram, you know what you have to do…

To help you, here are 6 tips from Kurt Vonnegut!

They are collector’s items; I use them every time I write!

6 Writing Tips from Kurt Vonnegut

  1. Your readers’ time is precious, don’t make them feel like you’ve wasted it.
  2. Create at least one character the reader can identify with.
  3. Every character must want something, even if it’s just a glass of water.
  4. Each sentence should achieve one of two goals: reveal a character’s character or move the action forward.
  5. Start your story as close to the end as possible.