Think of the most important object in your story. It could be the thing all the characters want that drives the story or just an item that acts as a metaphor--or both!--or anything in between. Start by describing the object's physicality and history from your protagonist's point of view. Then go into what it means … Continue reading Scene Prompt #3: The MacGuffin
People talk like microtension began and now idles with Donald Maass. For Maass, microtension boils down to a conflict...a juxtaposition...a clashing of things, preferably emotions, but also ideas, concepts, anticipations, whatever--whatever's available for contradiction in your story. But is there more? More guidance? By random chance (or synchronicity?), I came across a book in the … Continue reading Microtension: What is it and how do we get it onto the page?
We're looking at how to create the regular, rhythmic beat that The Bestseller Code says exists in the top two bestselling adult books of all time, Fifty Shades of Gray and The Da Vinci Code. When we left off last week, we were wondering how, specifically, to create this rhythm. The goal is to alternate negative … Continue reading Rhythm in Plotting: The Bestseller’s best-kept secret – Part 2
We're looking at character tags. Here's how some of the master story tellers help us remember who their characters are. Jim Butcher's Dresden series Harry Dresden is a practicing wizard who hires out as a detective. Jim Butcher has said that he consciously creates tags and traits for his characters to help readers identify them. In … Continue reading Character Tags: How the Masters Use Them
Tags, markers, labels, traits. The craft masters have a lot of words for the details that help readers identify and distinguish the characters in a story. Here are 6 character aspects that you can mine for tags and 5 ways to put those tags to work. What are character tags? Jim Butcher says "TAGS are words you hang … Continue reading Character Tags: What are they?
This week, we're learning how to forge the reader-character bond. Here's how the masters do it: For these examples, I'm rereading only the opening scenes and otherwise drawing from memory. Let's Get the classic example out of the way first: Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone, J. K. Rowling (MG) Main Character: Harry Potter First … Continue reading The Reader-Character Bond: How the masters do it
9 ways to forge a reader-character bond
We're looking at tension, conflict, and suspense this week. You can find tension and conflict here. Onward to suspense . . . What is Suspense? "Suspense is any unresolved tension in the story that makes the reader want to see what happens next," says James Scott Bell. Raymond Obstfeld agrees: "On a basic level, suspense … Continue reading Suspense: What it is and Ways to Create It
This week we looked at metaphorical devices: symbols, motifs and allegory. Let's see if we can develop some symbolism for the one-liners we've got going: 1. Our human-rights-attorney story: When the money runs out before the case against his transgender partner is over, a human rights lawyer joins a prestigious and wealthy law firm not knowing that the managing … Continue reading Thematic Devices: Show Us What You’ve Got!
We're looking at Metaphorical Devices this week. Here are some examples of how the masters use them... SYMBOLS Some books state their symbols right in the title: Sue Monk Kidd's The Secret Life of Bees Nathaniel Hawthorne's The Scarlet Letter MOTIFS AND LEITMOTIFS Chuck Palahniuk's Fight Club This is a story of two guys, an … Continue reading Metaphorical Devices: How the Masters Do It