The Physiology of the Writer: The Bones

Still life of model skeleton in Halloween concept


Welcome the second edition of the Physiology of the writer.  This week we will discuss a little about the inner workings of the bones as it pertains to the writer.

One of the most essential elements of the human body, or even its functioning is the skeletal system.  Bones are living organs within every human being.  They have a host of cells that enable them to carry out their daily functions for maintaining homeostasis.  You have the osteocytes, osteoblasts, osteoclasts, not to mention a host of red blood cells within the bone marrow.  But one of the most basic functions of the skeletal system or bones, are that they provide a rigid site for muscle attachment.  Which ultimately is for movement.  And without such an arrangement of bones we would literally be a shapeless sack of flesh.

So you could logically say that without bones there would be no movement or locomotion.  There would be no shape to appreciate, or anything to hold us together.

As writers what is the most basic element of our writing?   I’m guessing it’s the OUTLINE.  The “skeleton” of our writing process.  Without it there’s no locomotion and no shape.  It would be a complete blob.  No matter how awesome the other elements would be there still would be no shape.  It’s much harder to appreciate a bag of flesh just resting on the floor.  Gross huh?  Yup.  It’s even challenging to figure out which organ is which in such a state.

So I’ve been learning one of the most important aspects of writing is the outline.  By nature or design I’m a pantser.  Meaning I’m not much of a planner.  I see one day at a time and I go after it.  But when it comes to writing, there needs to be some definite planning.  Well unless of course you are a diehard pantser.  James Patterson convinced me that the outline is one of the most critical components of the book.  Yes.  Outline.  He spends sometimes a month just on the outline!  Author K.M. Weiland sometimes spends 3 months just on the outline!

Without an outline I’m completely flying blind.  There’s no roadmap and the characters have no idea where they’re going.

But there’s something even more simplistic than the skeleton itself, and that’s the bone marrow.  In physiologic terms there’s nothing simplistic about the functioning of bone marrow.  Hematopoiesis, or blood forming, is the producing of red blood cells that are absolutely vital for survival.  Without it we die. Period.  I know because my father died of bone cancer.  He suffered several vertebral fractures, ailments, and unfortunately he passed.  Multiple Myeloma.

To me the intrinsic bone marrow represents  a basic story premise.  Which is basically a mini outline of the entire story.  Kind of like a birds eye view.

Story Premise

  • Hero or the Protagonist
  • Situation – condition of the hero at the beginning of the story
  • Objective – what does the hero desperately want?
  • Opponent or Antagonist – who opposes the hero?
  • Disaster – forces hero to respond
  • Conflict – main conflict in story

You can see more about story premise here:  Six elements of the Story Premise

I’ve been enjoying working with a basic story premise which has been awesome!  Hopefully sooner than later I’ll master outlining the novel, then structuring the novel by K.M. Weiland.  I’m also reading Plot and Structure by James Scott Bell which has been an eye opener.  Another way of outlining is a way I heard from Kylie Day.  Click here to check it out:

More resources:

7 Point Story Structure by Kylie Day.

Story Engineering with Larry Brooks

Every writer is different.  Isn’t that a beauty?  So I’m curious what’s your experience?  How do you approach writing a novel or short story?