(Craft) The Second Fiction Box: The Response

In last week’s post on the craft of fiction-writing, we discussed the First Box of writing fiction:  The Setup. Today we will be discussing the Second Box of Fiction Writing: the Response.

In the Setup,, we did just that. We set up our protagonist and antagonist.  We set up our protagonist’s goal and the stakes that compel her to reach that goal.  We introduced the First Plot Point where the protagonist’s world is turned upside down and the story really begins.

In Box Two, we present our protagonist’s response to his new upside-down situation and the tremendous conflict it has caused in his life.   In this box, the protagonist does not yet attack the problem.  He is in too much of a bewildered state to figure out exactly what to do.  He has been blindsided by the sudden turn of events in his life and is left reeling. 

Larry Brooks calls this box the “wandering” stage in which the protagonists waivers between two or more courses of action. At the same time, the protagonist has a purpose; he is simply trying to figure out the best way to fulfill it.

Fiction Box Two, then, is all about reaction or response.  Box Two could also be called the “regrouping” box.  In it, you will put all those elements that show your hero “regrouping” after his world has turned upside down.  He has not yet figured out what to do.  He is simply sorting out his thoughts and feelings.

Next week, we will take a look at Fiction Box Three: The Attack.


Copyright 2013 by MaryAnn Diorio, PhD. All Rights Reserved.


(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.

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