The format of a story was always a mystery to me. I always had trouble understanding where the character is in the climax, or the rising action. But in the Week #4 post of Networked Narratives, there is a video by Kurt Vonnegut which explains a lot.
In this small clip, he draws two lines on the top and the bottom of a blackboard. Then he draws a line in the middle of the blackboard. He explained that the top line is where the character is most healthy, happy, and rich. The middle line is the tipping point for whether the character is going “downwards” or “upwards” in their emotional disposition. The final and bottom line is where the character is unhappy, in despair , and sick in the story. Then he used Cinderella’s emotion’s from the book Cinderella and drew a line on how her emotions fluctuated throughout the story. For example, when the Fairy Godmother appeared and gave her a dress, glass slippers, and a sweet ride, her mood rises up to above the center line. When she dances with the prince, her mood rises even further! But when the clock strikes midnight, all of her special stuff disappeared. The line rocketed downwards. Later on when the glass slipper fits here feet, her mood once again rockets skywards.
This example helped me understand a character’s position in the story by looking at their feelings at the time of a big change in a good story. After watching this video, I can think from outside of the story to see how it is structured. Stories are like buildings. On the outside, you can see the structure of the building, but you have no idea what is happening inside it. When you walk inside of the building, you can experience what is happening inside. But maybe you can’t see where you are. Stories are the same.