Film Media


Communication Studies


Nikitas, Derek

Advisor Department





Truby; Narrative Structure; Mystery; Fiction; Irony


John Truby states in The Anatomy of Story that, “Once you set up a hero and an opponent competing for the same goal, you must build up that conflict steadily until the final battle. Your purpose is to put constant pressure on your hero, because this is what will force him to change,” (Truby 94). Narratives often adhere to these principles, especially in the genre of mystery writing. In this genre, figuring out how your protagonist is going to solve their problem, and the steps they take to get there, is essential to laying the groundwork and clues for any mystery story as a whole. In my novel, Finding Valhalla, Rebecca Olson is a reporter who is forced to face her past after the killer who murdered her younger sister supposedly resurfaces. After the murder of another young woman, she becomes determined to solve the case that has haunted her for fifteen years. This mystery novel is a story about a woman who has too much pride for her own good, and, as a result, becomes obsessed with avenging the past. She must overcome her closed off attitude in order to solve the murder of a young woman, and the other mysteries that have come to surround her in the present. The main themes of this novel are justice, isolation, and loneliness, and being able to overcome them. In the end, Rebecca must learn to move past what has happened, and more importantly, to forgive herself. Throughout the process of writing and developing this story, I have learned a lot about the differences between writing a script and writing a novel, specifically in the mystery genre. Now, the first part of the main storyline of my novel may be complete, totaling roughly forty pages so far, but the journey has just begun. Throughout this process, I have not only learned how to improve my writing and structure further, but to edit it as well, with an eye toward eventual publication. Ultimately, however, my main goal was to simply learn more about the process of novel writing in hopes that I would be able to apply what I have learned to my storytelling as a filmmaker. With this said, Truby’s discussion of narrative and structure can be applied across many different disciplines. The process as a whole remains at the heart of the mystery genre, and what I have found to be the key to any good story, regardless of genre.

Patricia Shea.pdf (24753 kB)
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