STRUCTURE in READING THRONE
Folks—while voice is the obvious learning point in Reading Throne, there are also interesting issues of structure.
As you see, the reporter uses the classic narrative device of chapters. Interesting topic. When do chapters work, and when do they not?
One of the biggest pitfalls in narrative pieces by less-than-skilled writers is the notion that if you have a long piece, you can ipso facto divide it into “chapters,” and that will somehow magically move the story along. That is simply not true. The “chapters” have to be skillfully thought out and constructed so that each one is a self-contained unit performing a specific story-telling function within the larger frame of the story.
In some chapter stories, the units are kind of like juggling balls—you can literally place one unit in position one, another in position five, the top at the end, the end in the middle, etc., and still have an integrated and thoroughly logical read.
In Reading Throne, that isn’t the case. Notice how the writer uses very specific interlocking mechanisms between chapters to link the one to the one before it—and how the story is rooted in the uber-chronology (Zach dies, Zach’s parents want to do something for a memorial, Zach’s parents go to the principal for help, the principal goes to the carpenter, the carpenter builds, the kids sit....)
A beautifully done “juggling ball” chapter story is one of Liam’s, the War at Home (http://tinyurl.com/2sapaj), in which the chapters could easily be moved around without losing the narrative hit. Each one is a self-contained unit, but the forward motion of the story isn’t rooted in an uber-chronology. Instead, the writer uses a scatter shot of scenes whose back-and-forth-and-all-around serves to reflect the fractured mind of the soldier. (a chronology emerges, but it is not the core unifier).
Thoughts on Reading Throne?
War at Home?
The use of chapters as a storytelling device?
(Liam had some interesting comments on the building of that story, which I have posted in Stories to Read.)