The other night my family and I enjoyed some ice cream treats. You know, the kind you buy from the store that come in a waffle cone. The ice cream is covered with chocolate and sprinkles on top, and there’s a thick plug of solid chocolate at the bottom to keep the ice cream from leaking out when it melts. That’s what we had.
Somehow we got to drawing analogies from our ice cream. I decided that a good story is like those ice cream treats: it has a really good beginning and a really good ending. My daughter pointed out, “But that means that the middle is just boring, and that’s not right.”
“No,” I reminded her, “the middle is ice cream! Maybe it’s not as exciting as the beginning and the end, but it still keeps you going to the end!”
That satisfied her, but now the analogy won’t leave me alone. There’s more to be found in a simple ice cream cone. Such as:
- The waffle cone is the structure of the story. You don’t need much of it, so long as it’s there to keep funneling the story toward its sweet conclusion.
- Remember your pacing! Go too slowly and your story starts to turn into a soggy mess and your structure begins to break down.
- Some of the best stories include additional surprises inside the ice cream.
- Keep the middle interesting, lest your readers be tempted to skip to the end.
- Not all ice cream cones have the same structure. Some use different flavors, and some use different kinds of sprinkles. Feel free to experiment with your story. Write the story you want to eat–I mean, read.
I know there are more to be made, so it’s your turn! What analogies can you come up with? Let’s see some of that creativity!