Formula

In math, formulas are the keys to making things work. Once you understand perimeter, you can figure it out even if you don’t know the exact formula for a shape. It isn’t just geometry; math follows rules that can be put into formulas and remembered.

Stories are works of art, and I wonder if the underpinnings of formula really can be set out. It’s arguable how many plots there are out there and I’ve heard they’ve all be done before.

I guess the question is whether the formula accents the story or inhibits it. Characters and plot are two of the most important parts of the story. The formula is meant to be like a skeleton, giving a basic structure to build things. Each species has a unique skeleton (or not, in the case of invertebrates), but every type has a similar structure for a unique being.

Stories are like that. Each is unique because of the differences, not the similarities. Characters and plot lead the writer in different directions, even if the underlying plot is a formula.

However, there’s a point where the formula overrides the differences. It’s such a fine line between making it work and making it a flop. It’s not easy to know which it will be.

I’m not sure if I manage, though I try. Do you think the formulas are there because we expect them? Are those formulas there because, as readers, we find what we need from a story from the formula?

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