Story Shape

I think looking at the “shapes” of stories can give more insight into a reading than what first meets the eye. It shows the highs and lows and the ebbs and flows of the story, like if there was a dramatic ending or a big climax. You can comprehend a little bit of the story before even knowing the name of a character or the setting it takes place in.

I am going to describe the shape of the story “Ice Man’ by Elmore Leonard. The picture below is the shape I envisioned for it. It starts off really high. The main character and bull ride, Victor, is “the man.” He tackles riding thee bulls and him and his friends think they are just too cool.

The story stays steady for a while after that. They go to a bar to drink and celebrate. They are just having a good time and reminiscing.

It begins to go downhill when Victor and his friends have a little altercation with a man that works for the government. He first accuses them of being illegal aliens and Victor fought him back on it. Then he accuses them of drinking underage, which they too combat. Then it takes a huge drop when he arrests them for “mouthing off” but it was really for being Indians.

I guess the shape could be reversed also if a reader found it more entertaining when all the bad stuff was happening. Depends on your preferences.

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