The use of narrative milestones in Dan Well's John Cleaver series
The use of narrative milestones in the horror fiction of Dan Wells
The use of narrative milestones in horror
This morning I finished a four-day EFL winter camp at a local junior high school. Each day of the camp, we watched part of How to Train Your Dragon, a movie I love. The first three days, I played a few minutes, asked the class to summarize the action, played a few more minutes, asked for a summary, and so on. It wasn't a hit. Today I played the last two thirds of the movie non-stop after warning the class that I expected them to tell me the whole story once the movie ended.
Not oddly, the second book has more accurately placed milestones than the first.
Right on the money. Yes, there's a lot of action and soul searching during the first sequence (Hook to Inciting Incident), but it's the Waterfront Crime Commission officer's accosting Terry on the dock that assures us this movie will be about Terry deciding whether or not to atone for his role in Joey Doyle's death, and it's Terry's interaction with Edie Doyle that propels him to the showdown with Johnny Friendly.
Most of us prefer a narrative to proceed logically and be internally rich. This series of posts deals with techniques for achieving these effects.
A lot of little things happen between the milestones, as usual, but you can see the progression--or descent.
This flick is a good example of a narrative which seems to launch right into the dramatic question. After all, it opens in medias res with a tallship tossing in a storm and crashing on a rock. In short order, we meet the protagonists, abandoned by the crew to whatever fate awaits them and making haste to get off the ship onto dry ground. Surely the action has begun. Well, yes, but no story is about the action per se.
Good narratives are frontloaded. This means that everything needed to understand and appreciate the piece is provided in the first quarter, commonly called Act I or Setup, what I like to call Country.