It’s that symbol, goes ’round and ’round and ’round and never meets an end. That’s story. Now, don’t get cranky and start saying stuff like ‘waffle’ or ‘twaddle’ or worse. Look at the last few posts on craft skills (CofE, Simple, etc.) and the overall structure of story, then look at cave paintings and see if you can find the same things. The elements are there, aren’t they?
Look at this: A sentence has a link in meaning to the next (and the prior, if it’s not the first); a para has a link in meaning to the next (and the previous, etc.); a scene has a link in meaning … and on and on. [And the end of one story can be a beginning of another, i.e. link to a new story/path.]
The chain of events of story we use today are the same as the pictures in the caves. The movement and meaning created by one picture followed by another with changes to denote the how, why, when, and so on. In essence, only the era and presentation have changed.
That’s story. It’s still going on, ’round and ’round and ’round. We’ve still got things to learn and things to do and things to teach and things to say – whether they have value to the reader is up to the writer!
That’s where the front of story matters. Those pictures in caves? Was it the hunter who always went first to the scenes with spears and tactics? Was it the group of women who squatted down by the scrawls that were maps to good water and food and safe camp-sites? The meaning was easy for them to grasp because of the context of the first picture.
In a story, the first section, the setup, is what paints the picture (and the front cover, of course) to attract the appropriate reader. It does, doesn’t it? If it attracts the wrong reader, how far in to the story do you think they’d go?
Not far at all. If they’ve been misled by the cover and the set-up and the guts isn’t what was represented by the initial insertion/view, you can be absolutely certain that reader will tell all their friends and enemies and even people they don’t know that this author is [yep, hot and steaming and fresh] and the author will suffer the consequences of not ‘playing by the rules’ of story.
Cave-dwellers had to do it – it was their survival tactic. You have to do it, or your words, your story, are as good as dead. And your career as a writer.
So, story is an infinite thread of meaning woven into the tapestry of existence. The pattern indicates who should be there for that piece/moment. Don’t forget it. Aim for the right reader by being deliberate with the entrance and say, quite clearly, who it’s for.