This week I enjoyed a couple of days with my 10-month old granddaughter. She’s at a really fun stage–responsive to words and games. Now she plays pat-a-cake. Her little hands are so plump and her fingers straighten so far that only her palms touch. Sweet. Pat, pat and look at grandma to say the words. Again and again. Repetition is so much fun.
Repetition is a form of patterning that teaches our brain to do something instinctively. You might ask if repetition creates familiarity which consequently breeds contempt? But it doesn’t seem to be so. It seems familiarity gives us a sense of comfort and satisfaction and perhaps to understanding.
I find all of this fascinating in regards to story writing because all stories have a familiar shape (which might be affected by culture but in the western world culture the shape is consistently the same.) Most of us recognize Aristotle’s incline form of story which can be reduced in simplest terms to beginning, middle and end.
We seem to instinctively know when the structure is there. Maybe we can’t see it but if it is missing we leave the book or the theatre with an unsatisfied feeling.
I wish story structure was that simple but the longer I write the more I discover there is to know. There’s the hero’s journey, the inner journey, the wound, the lie, the W shaped plot, beats, and so much more.
Is it any wonder I get confused??