Stories where the inner journey is primary and outer journey is secondary

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Henckel
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Stories where the inner journey is primary and outer journey is secondary

Postby Henckel » Thu Mar 12, 2020 3:19 pm

I’ve recognized trends in my story structures lately and common mistakes that I’m making in them. These are stories where MC’s inner journey is primary and outer journey is secondary. (Most stories reverse the emphasis). In these stories MC has a desire (subjective) and goal (objective). MC believes a lie, he enters a “situation” where he comes face to face with the truth, and then he is forced to either change once-and-for-all or forever live a lie.

So, how should I balance the focus of my T/F cycles? Normally, I write these where the T/F speaks 70% toward the inner journey and 30% toward the external conflict. The problem is, many readers don’t perceive the inner journey and are left with only a rather weak connection between the T/F cycles and the outer journey.

Any recommendations?
• How can I deliver this type story so that the inner journey remains primary, but without the outer journey appearing weak?
• If the inner journey is my primary, should my T/Fs focus on that or should my T/Fs dominantly speak to the outer journey?
• Should I give in and just make the outer journey primary like everyone else?

I appreciate your thoughts. wotf011
(2014) V31 Q1 – R
(2018) V35 Q3 – HM
(2019) V36 Q3 – HM (published @ Sci-fi Lampoon)
(2019) V36 Q4 – SHM
(2020) V37 Q1 – R
(2020) V37 Q2 – HM
(2020) V37 Q3 – pending
(2020) V37 Q4 – ?

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disgruntledpeony
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Re: Stories where the inner journey is primary and outer journey is secondary

Postby disgruntledpeony » Thu Mar 12, 2020 5:16 pm

It sounds like you've got the basic concept of try/fail cycles down, but ideally the inner and outer journeys are related and your try/fail cycles will touch on both.

I wouldn't recommend trying to find a standard formula for how much should be internal and how much should be external--every story is unique, so there won't be any one answer that works all the time.

I, personally, would recommend trying for a balanced approach, trying to write both strong internal and external narratives--but, as I said, some stories need a different balance than others.

I think that, in order for you to find the answer to this question, you need to consider what makes a strong internal journey and what makes a strong external journey. If readers are having difficulty understanding one or the other, it could be that the journeys themselves need to be more thoroughly explored. Clarity is important, and if readers are consistently confused about something it could be that there's just not enough detail there yet.

Also, I definitely recommend reading the published stories in the anthologies (as well as stories that have been published elsewhere) analytically in order to get a feel for finding different ways to make the balance work. A lot of published writers have found ways to convey internal conflict as part and parcel with the external conflict, and vice versa.
If a person offend you, and you are in doubt as to whether it was intentional or not, do not resort to extreme measures; simply watch your chance and hit him with a brick. ~ Mark Twain

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Henckel
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Re: Stories where the inner journey is primary and outer journey is secondary

Postby Henckel » Thu Mar 12, 2020 5:56 pm

Hi Liz –
As always, you have good sound advice. wotf009
• trying for a balanced approach
• consider what makes a strong internal & external journey
• the journeys themselves need to be more thoroughly explored
• clarity is important

I appreciate that!

This wasn’t a deliberate formula. I just realised that several of my most recent stories (including the one I’m working on now) is following this same flip flop structure. To be honest it freaked me out a little that my subconscious is consistently steering me this direction. (riddle me that) wotf017

I definitely obsess over… I mean, “read” the anthologies and pay attention to their structures (some more obvious than others). But none stand out as similar to my flip flop approach.
(2014) V31 Q1 – R
(2018) V35 Q3 – HM
(2019) V36 Q3 – HM (published @ Sci-fi Lampoon)
(2019) V36 Q4 – SHM
(2020) V37 Q1 – R
(2020) V37 Q2 – HM
(2020) V37 Q3 – pending
(2020) V37 Q4 – ?

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AlexH
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Re: Stories where the inner journey is primary and outer journey is secondary

Postby AlexH » Fri Mar 13, 2020 4:45 pm

Definitely not the third bullet point (assuming that's the way you want to do it)! If many readers don't perceive the inner journey, I'd think you need to find ways to make that stronger. Inner conflict is something I struggle with for my main characters. I'll have an idea for inner conflict, but it seems superficial when I've reached the end of the story, and I have to figure out how to strengthen it throughout (not easy, but helped very much by critiquers). What actions could the character take that will show their inner journey?

I'm trying to think of relevant WotF stories. There was one set inside the PoV's mind, I think - as sort of a hive, where she was someone in her own head. The inner journey was actually the outer journey.
35: - R R R | 36: R HM R R | 37: HM HM ?

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Re: Stories where the inner journey is primary and outer journey is secondary

Postby Andy Dibble » Mon Mar 16, 2020 11:55 am

My two cents is that for a WotF story has to have an outer journey with almost no exceptions. A purely introspective story isn't going to do very well unless it is truly outstanding in other ways. The ideal story will of course have an inner journey/character arc as well, but that should be intimately connected to the outer journey and the kind of protagonist you have on that journey. Each T/F cycle should mean progression on both outer and inner journey (as Liz said).

So my advice is start with an outer journey, in particular the problem that has to be solved and then choose a protagonist that has to change or grow in order to solve the problem. A protagonist that is particularly ill-suited to solve the problem at first is best. Figure out how to make the protagonist change in a way so that he can solve the problem, and the rest will work itself out. And if it doesn't, try it again with another story. If you're worried about the inner journey not being perceived or not being strong enough make sure that the protagonist is emotionally invested in each T/F cycle, and that's often still enough for a good story
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35.4 R
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36.2 HM

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Re: Stories where the inner journey is primary and outer journey is secondary

Postby Wulf Moon » Tue Mar 17, 2020 12:19 pm

Henckel: You've gotten great advice from others here, so I'll just add a point. I'm producing Jeff Wheeler's audiobook from his biography YOUR FIRST MILLION WORDS. Just yesterday I went over the section where he said there are two types of writers. I'll quote it for you: "As an avid reader, and writer, I’ve come to the conclusion that authors are usually either plot authors or character authors. Most people have a natural tendency toward one or the other, although the universe occasionally delivers a writer who has equally mastered both. For me, someone like J. K. Rowling fits this category. I just can’t say which kind of author she is because of how well she straddles both."

Jeff's argument is if we're good at plot, we are weak at character development, which is what the internal story arc is all about. If we are good at developing deep characters, we will be weaker in plot. He said occasionally the universe gives us someone brilliant at both, but it's a rare gift. But here's the good news--you will likely hear from your wise reader (in his case, his wife) what side of the coin you need to work on, and you can focus on that and become better. The goal is to become a master at both.

Best to your writer journey!

Wulf Moon
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Henckel
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Re: Stories where the inner journey is primary and outer journey is secondary

Postby Henckel » Tue Mar 17, 2020 2:24 pm

Thanks all! I really appreciate your time and input.

I've already put your suggestions/advice into action. So far, so good.
(2014) V31 Q1 – R
(2018) V35 Q3 – HM
(2019) V36 Q3 – HM (published @ Sci-fi Lampoon)
(2019) V36 Q4 – SHM
(2020) V37 Q1 – R
(2020) V37 Q2 – HM
(2020) V37 Q3 – pending
(2020) V37 Q4 – ?


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