(Craft) The First Fiction Box: The Setup

In my last post on the craft of fiction-writing, I discussed structuring your story into four parts or four boxes.  For strong story structure, we must put into each box only those story elements that go into that box. To put something in a box that doesn’t belong in that box will weaken your story.

Today, we are going to take a closer look at the first box called the Setup Box. In this box, you will need to place everything that contributes to setting up your story for the reader.  For example, in this first box, you will need to put the following pieces of your story puzzle:

  • The foreshadowing of the antagonist or the antagonistic force;
  • The stakes of the story; in other words, what your protagonist has to lose if she doesn’t reach her goal;
  • The creation of reader empathy for your character.

The setup is just that: the SET UP.  It is not the beginning of your plot. The beginning of your plot occurs at the First Plot Point which happens at the point you have completely filled Box One and are ready to start filling Box Two. This is where your protagonist experiences the transition from her ordinary life to a life turned upside down.

Next time, we’ll take a look at what goes into Box Two of your story.  For a more in-depth study of this topic, check out Larry Brooks’s excellent book, STORY ENGINEERING.

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Copyright 2013 by Dr. MaryAnn Diorio. All Rights Reserved.

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