Sonata and Story Share Form

I am thankful that next semester will be “lighter” in terms of teaching load –two of my classes will be the same subject. Yay! That makes a difference in lesson planning and getting some of my time back.

Speaking of time, in the Conroe Professional Writing Group, I’ve talked about the relationship between Music and Story. Each art strives to put themes together that take the listener/reader on a journey that happens in time. Both art forms use linear duration—a necessary length of time that moves the exposition and subject forward toward an exciting or harrowing climax and then falls off into the solace found in a resolution or denouement. The timing is important for your book. Without it, the story will seem like the rhythm is off or the melody out of tune.

Stories (and music) have a long and proven history of what works and doesn’t work in terms of human preference, perception, and enjoyment. To put it simply, we like things that “flow.” That doesn’t mean that all writing (or music) must adhere to certain structures. Art doesn’t always have to follow conventions. But, if you want your story to resonate with a wide reader-base, certain forms need use. There is a reason forms exists. Compare the Sonata Form and the Three-Act Story Beats. In the image, two different art forms share a similar “arcing” structure.

This week while you are engaging in the assignment of cursory edits, defining your goals, and sifting your novel, examine it for overall continuity. Does your novel have form? If it doesn’t and you need one, the Three-Act Story Arc is a good place to start.

While you’re sifting, perhaps you might enjoy this famous Beethoven piano sonata: