Writing tools . . . huh?

My sister-in-law, Katie, is an elementary school teacher. The school where she teaches has a writer-in-residence who made a presentation on how to analyze stories to make them better.  Katie thought I’d be interested so she sent me a handout from the presentation. It is very detailed … and complicated. Perhaps if I’d actually been at the presentation, I would understand the concept better.

The first paragraph says, in part: “Seven major role functions must exist for a story’s action to be perceived as whole or complete. A single character can hold up to six role functions.” 

The handout goes on to explain the seven roles with a numbering system, titles and appreviations, plus 3 more secondary role functions. But, the roles aren’t numbered from one to seven, or from one to ten, they each have a unique number, title, and abbreviation. For example: 

1-1 = Primary Actor (PA)

1-2-3 = The initial Equilibrium Disrupter (IED)

2-2 = The Primary Norm Breaker (PNB)

3-3 = The Hero

1-1-3-3 = Safe Character(s) (SC)

There is a chart showing the various numbers in little circles surrounding and on top of, and curved lines shooting off from, an upside down triangle with a little triangle in the middle. The chart doesn’t include the role names or abbreviations, only their numbers.  

I didn’t follow it very well. What does that curved dotted line mean?

Reading this handout made me wonder if, when I summarize a writing concept that I’ve learned from a writing workshop or conference and passed it on to my critique group or other writer friends, if they read my summary and have the same reaction: huh?

Maybe one reason books and writers are so different from each other is because the writing process is different for each one. Perhaps writers understand and express the same concepts differently to readers who “get” their particular style.  Is it all just a matter of semantics?

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