By D.J. Adamson
**Since many of us have watched the movie The Wizard of Oz more than we have read L. Frank Baum books, I will reference the movie, not the book Also, don’t miss the contest at the end of this blog.
Story has structure no matter its genre. Its elements include: Setting, Character, Themes, Plot: Conflicts and Climax, and Denouement. Each of these creates a great story. Learning structure sets the foundation for the enjoyment of the reader, and more importantly, the reader comes away with having been enlightened. No story offers a greater example of this than The Wizard of Oz (W of Oz).
- Setting: While many stories provide one setting, location, the W of Oz is brilliant in offering two different settings in one story. The safe state of Kansas and the amazing, magical land of Oz. Literary elements can be used in the setting. Such as, if a character moves toward the woods or wilderness, the reader is triggered that something bad is going to happen. Dorothy is sent on a journey on the yellow brick road through the woods and wilderness.
- Character: Each character in every story needs a reason for being there and needs to have a problem/motive. W of Oz does this so well: Dorothy, gratitude; Magician, offering false hope; Strawman, Tinman, and Lion help Dorothy learn; Good and Bad Witches offer good and evil; and the dog, Toto—yes the dog is a character and needs a motive—needs to be rescued, the reason for Dorothy to go to Oz.
- Themes: These are most important part of any story. A story can entertain, but a remembered story is one that says something as well. It’s why everyone remembers The Wizard of Oz. In it are themes of Home, Love, Loyalty, Bravery, Sincerity, Journey to Learn, Good vs. Evil, Coming of Age, and Innocence. I am probably leaving themes out. It’s that good of a story. The ideas are presented directly and subtly. Dorothy teaches how to take a journey to learn to valuable those things most important in life, home and family. The Scarecrow offers the brilliance of loyalty. The Tinman demonstrates love doesn’t need a physical heart but comes with friendship. And, of course, the Lion learns, when necessary, he has the courage.
- Plot—Conflicts: Every story needs inner and outer conflicts.
Outer Conflict: This is simple in W of Oz. Dorothy needs to get back to Kansas.
Inner Conflict: The themes presented by the characters create the inner conflicts. Dorothy needs to learn – Click, click—There Is No Place Like Home. (We should all put on our ruby red slippers every day and give them a click or two. We can do it, anytime we want.)
- Climax—Action. On her journey to get back to Kansas, Dorothy needs to become aware of the themes, defeat the evil witch and get home. The killing of the witch is the first climax. Then just as everyone thinks a happy ending is coming, the false hope of the magician (Wizard) is revealed, and Dorothy discovers she had on the ruby slippers, which could have taken her home at any point in the story.
- Denouement: The happy ending. Dorothy back in Kansas, missed, and grateful for her home and family.
If a writer has a solid concept of a story’s elements, putting them together is easier in story writing. The first of a story introduces the setting, characters and main protagonist’s problem. The second part provides the steps necessary for the main character to solve their problem and construct the themes. Third part pulls together the conflicts to a climax. There is no better way to learn how than to read as much as possible, write as many stories as possible, and to watch the Wizard of Oz.
** Those who comment on this blog and who answer the follow Wizard of Oz questions will be placed in a drawing for an autographed novel by D. J. Adamson and become a character in her next Lillian Dove Mystery, Let Go, set to release 2017
- We are the _________________________________.
- If I only had a ___________, a ______________, a _____________, a ________________.
J. Adamson is the author of the Lillian Dove Mystery series and the Deviation science fiction-suspense trilogy. Suppose, the second in the Lillian series has just been released. She also teaches writing and literature at Los Angeles colleges. And to keep busy when she is not writing or teaching, she is the Membership Director of the Los Angeles Sisters in Crime, Vice President of Central Coast Sisters in Crime and an active member of the Southern California Mystery Writers. Her books can be found and purchased in bookstores and on Amazon. To find her, her blog L’Artiste, or her newsletter that interviews and reviews authors go to http://www.djadamson.com. Make friends with her on Facebook or Goodreads.