Ashana Lian's Fantasy Lab



Fantasy and Fantasy Writing from every angle: fantasy and sci-fi novels, films, artwork, superhero cartoons, children's and YA books, manga, anime, video games and comics. Put the microscope on 'Geek Culture'.

Monday, 3 November 2014

Writerly Image: The Story Circle

How's the NaNoWriters doing? Got you 3,334 words yet?

Seeing as I very rarely do posts on fantasy writing tips, I'll try and make it my focus this month. Today I came across Dan Harmon's Story Circle again on the instagram of one of my favourite blogs, So You Want To Be A Writer. This Storytelling Wheel seems to be the epitome of plot structure. Here's the basic version:

Image: la-screenwriter.com, click for their great article

And here is the full version.

Image: strategyhub.net, and they also have a great article.

The most bizarre thing about my novel OOTD/KL is that it's probably the ONLY story I've created that naturally followed this structure before I sat down to think about it (ten minutes ago). Usually my ideas are great fun but sloppy, messy, full of typos, non-linear and non-sensical. OOTD is my most prized work and perhaps that because it is a story that already felt "complete". It's a bit messed up though, because of this:

3 - Karalan enters an unfamiliar situation 
3.5 - She dies 
4 - The story begins

When I looked at this story circle, I realised that even though points 1-3 do happen in this tale, they happen before the start of the story and because of this only emerge in flashbacks. I feel as though the entire story goes around Harmon's circle almost twice. =/ Well, let's see, shall we? Here, briefly, is my personal circle.

1. Karalan lives with her father and two brothers in the quiet town of Bless'd Bay. She is aware of her father's extraordinary past but is cautious when asking him about it, as she's aware that enemies can be anywhere.
2. Godlike entities communicate with Karalan and beg her for help. She leaps at the chance to have her own heroic adventure, like her father. But she discovers that to receive their wisdom, she must shed her physical body. With a leap of faith, she decides to die.
3. ... she dies, I guess. In the bizarre otherrealm, the Godlike figure train her and allow her a wealth of knowledge.
4. ... ? The story begins here, with her "resuscitation". She now has to adapt to a world that's skipped ahead seven years without her, and achieve the mission she set out on.
5. After managing to rally a band of followers, she embarks on her great adventure and deals with the facts that it's not the adventure she wished for. Although fighting enemies and travelling the continent part is glorious, she also finally faces an enemy she can't defeat. That leaves her with scars, both mind and body.
6. The heavy price - her followers are not what they seem; betrayal and death are at hand. As she gets older her body becomes sluggish and she struggles to keep up. The psychological trauma that goes unaddressed starts to weigh down on her.
7. Her followers become her new family who support her no matter what, and she loves them in return. But she doesn't return to her familiar situation, because sometime after that is where her story ends.
... have I failed this story circle, then? XD

But I'd like to continue exploring this world with the other characters. I don't know how I feel about writing a sequel. I feel like I should take it one step at a time.


Click for two images that will inspire and motivate you to write!

Click to read a summary of my novel, OOTD/Karalan's Legacy
To read what I write, check out Fiction Fridays.


What do you think of the story circle; is it a useful tool for writers, or too rigid? Can you think of any stories that don't use the Story Circle but are still excellent novels? (I can. =P) Peacee.


Ashana Lian .

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