Crafting a great story is like writing a violin concerto. Okay, bear with me. A concerto highlights one instrument in a three-act format that allows lots of creative expression. The end result moves an audience to tears with its beauty.
I like that. As writers, we don’t give ourselves much credit. But by the time we’ve written a story with compelling plot, complex villains and likeable, even heroic protagonists, then bring plot twists to a flourishing and connected end – we might have something in common with Mozart after all.
A wild leap of analogy? Not so much. The last addition of a violin’s construction is a stick of spruce that meshes all the vibrating parts. Without it, the violin sounds no better than a gourd with a piece of rawhide stretched over it. This small piece of wood is called the soul, or sound post of a violin.
Our goal as successful storytellers is to find the sound post or emotional point of view of our characters. Great plot? Sure. A protagonist who resists change, wages relational duels, has weird inconsistencies and then accomplishes the impossible? Even better. It’s all about going deeper.
Look at Katniss Everdeen in Hunger Games. Will Katniss survive? That’s a good reason to read. But it’s even more compelling to watch what’s revealed in Katniss, despite overwhelming odds.
Soul is an ethereal word. It implies the essence of a person that appears in beliefs, passions and even relationships. Soul in a novel is the world through a character’s eyes.
How do we move our readers in a way that they remember our story years later? And sacrifice a good night’s sleep just to finish it? The beauty of a story is what we share by being human. Not always predictable, not always heroic. But memorable because of how we feel.