What do football and fiction have in common?

football field

What do football and fiction have in common?

The first thing we as writers must accomplish with our story is to hook our reader. But if we merely hook them, the reader can get away. So we must also then compel them to read on to the middle and then right through to the end of our story.

We spur our reader to the middle of our story by creating a compelling lead character with whom our readers bond. Next, [Read more…]

Who’s the big bad wolf in your story?

Big bad wolf chasing 3 little pigsWhat was the big bad wolf’s goal in the story of the 3 little pigs?

To have dinner. He needed to eat and the 3 pigs met the bill. The wolf was doing what came naturally to him.

There was nothing evil about eating the pigs, but of course to the pigs, who stood to lose their lives, the wolf was evil.

At the heart of every story is a protagonist with a goal. It doesn’t matter what the goal is, just that it is essential to the character and without reaching it he/she suffers great loss—physical death being the ultimate loss.

In the case of the wolf and the three pigs, each faced the same loss if they didn’t meet their goal—death.

What would the story have been like if the wolf told it? [Read more…]

6 Tasks to Accomplish with Act 1 of Your Novel – Part 1

bend in the roadAs writers we know we have to hook our reader at the onset — no matter what it is we’re writing.

But as novelists, the opening act of our story needs to accomplish six tasks to keep our readers interested and wanting to know what’s just around the bend. For the next several Tuesday Writing Tip posts, that’s what I’ll be discussing. Included with this series is the opportunity to win James Scott Bell’s book Plot & Structure. You’ll find the giveaway details at the end of this post.

You may know what those 6 things are already without even realizing it. You’ve gleaned them from your own reading most likely, but, like me, may not be consciously aware of them. What’s #1? [Read more…]

How to Ensure Your Characters and Plot Don’t Flat Line

Heart beat flat lining.Is it possible to sell a story that is high on action and adventure, but has flat characters?  Yes, though it isn’t easy.

What about a story that is flat on plot, but rich with three-dimensional characters? If your plot is flat, your reader (and that agent or publisher) has no reason to turn the pages. (Look out trash can.)

Your story stands a much better chance of being published if both the plot and characters are well developed. (Tweet this.)

I’m a writer whose strength is in [Read more…]

Use Art to Spur Your Creativity

fire escapeTake a look at the picture above. What’s the first thing that comes into your mind? Danger? A bygone era? What ever your thought was, the fact is the picture triggered that thought. That is the creativity of your mind in action.

Now think about how you can use what’s in this photo in your work in progress.

  • Can the building serve as a location for one of my scenes? Where is this, what is this, what did it used to be?
  • Can your protagonist elude capture by climbing up the fire escape? Climbing down?
  • Was your antagonist once trapped here as child? If so, how? As a kidnap victim? Was the building on fire? Was she/he homeless?
  • What would your antagonist and protagonist think about this building? Spend 15 minutes writing in your voice journal for each character.
  • How can I use this building to bring conflict to a scene and my characters?

When you’re stuck on a plot point or feel your story is dragging, step away from your writing and visit a local art gallery or do some web surfing to galleries. Use the pictures to inspire you and spur your creativity.

As you meander through the exhibits, ask yourself the questions above and anything else that comes to mind. What is the potential conflict this setting can bring to my story? Even what appears to you as the most tranquil scene can spark conflict in your character if he/she associates that scene with bad experiences.

Be sure to take along a notebook or digital recorder so you can record your thoughts. Who knows, you might even find the gallery you visit to be a perfect scene location.

Debra L. Butterfield © 2013

 

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