Monday, February 27, 2012

Exercise your writing!

After last week's post about emotion, I thought we could do with something a little more simple this week. So how about an exercise?

In one of my workshops, I talk about rethinking your story idea.

When coming up with ideas, especially if we're thinking along the lines of a specific genre, publisher or line, we tend to think in terms of musts. What we must "have" in order to make this book work -- so that when we write our one-paragraph story summary, we end up with something we KNOW hits the marks of what the genre/line/publisher we're targeting is looking for.

But what if the sky was the limit? What if you wanted to shoot your idea over the moon? What if you wanted to write something that would catch everybody's attention...something memorable. Still within your genre/publisher/line's requirements...but... well, better.

Can you look at your one-paragraph story summary and there something I could add to this ... a goal, motivation, conflict ... or something...that could shoot this story over the moon?

In my summer release, NANNY FOR THE MILLIONAIRE'S TWINS, my heroine was 'just coming back to life' after five years of surgeries and therapies to repair the leg she shattered in a motorcycle accident. The book was okay...but I knew (and so did the editors) that there was something 'more' that could be done. Something that could take it from good to memorable.

I did lists of twenty out the ying yang until one day it dawned on me. My heroine wasn't driving the bike that wrecked. Her boyfriend was...No make that her fiance. And he fared worse than she did in the accident. He was still in a coma.

So I went from having a story about a nanny who was limped a bit and was backward/shy because of sort of being out of life for five years to a story about a woman struggling to get back into life who really can't because her fiance, the guy who sheilded her from the brunt of the accident, lay in a personal care facility. Not dead but not really alive either. While part of her longs to move on...the other part desperately hangs on.

Now that's a struggle. LOL. And that's an over the moon idea. That's taking a good book and making it memorable.

Can you do that with your story?

Just the exercise of trying will bring you a boatload of new ideas!

Because sometimes your BOOK doesn't have to change, but maybe some of your scenes do. Have you taken your people to the wall? Are you bringing up their greatest fears and forcing them to face them? Do they really grow in your story...or do they just defeat an enemy?

When a reader closes your book...will the story stay with them?

Give thinking about some of that a shot today!

Happy Monday!


kris said...

Wow. That change definitely shifts the story to a whole new level. Talk about intensifying the conflict! I'm going to have to keep my thoughts open for these possibilities with my stories, and I can't wait to see how you handle this one, Susan!

Susan said...

Thanks, Kris. The story came out even better than I'd hoped. It's one of those stories I'm sure I'll be proud of forever. There's no feeling like that feeling!


Anonymous said...

All I can say Susan is wow!

What an extra to add to any story. A fiance in a coma.

I've always gone for the extra filip in my own work and I've had editors come back and tell me to tone down the emotion. That threw me until I relaised it wasn't exactly the emotion they wanted toned down but that I was using too many strong words.
So it comes back to the big three.

Story, scene and word.

Susan said...

Ah...I get it.

sometimes we do go to extremes with the words.

But you're right. In the end it all comes down to story, scene and word!