Monday, May 12, 2014

Different Perspectives

In 1956, Kurt Vonnegut sat before the Inquisition that is the Master's thesis review board.

He was defending the principal that all stories can be placed into eight categories.
His contention was that these story arcs can be graphed on Cartesian coordinate system (i.e. - an x/y graph). The Y axis is the socio-economic status of the protagonist, while the X axis is essentially the plot.
To my scientific sensibilities (I am a biologist by day), this portrayal of story arcs hits home like no other scholarly exposition ever has. The pattern and flow of the story as seen from a different point of view. I've looked at my own novel and found that it fits the second shape described in the video. I am very near the inciting event, the "god dammit" moment he describes, and find that thinking of the plot in this manner gives me a much needed alternate perspective. It provides me with a way of thinking that gives me focus without all the expository fluff found in the literary texts that makes my mind want to wander off and chase squirrels.
What he presented those many decades ago, was simply a different way of thinking. And while this particular methodology may not be right for everyone, it certainly gave me pause with my own story. And that, dear reader, is the point. Take a look at your own story. Plot it, twist it, turn it on it's head. Do whatever it takes to gain a different perspective, as it may make all the difference.


  1. What the hell?! My WWII story graphed out in a giant spiral!

  2. He was way ahead of his time. I saw that video and thought, "It's all so clear to me now." Ofcourse, I was heavily medicated at the time.

  3. No, no; you're right. It's almost biological, as you mentioned. I see the patterns, too. Oh, but I may be taking the same medicine as you.