Monday, February 17, 2014

Memorable Stories

After really good posts on emotional intensity and layering -- good because they are things writers are interested in not because they were well written -- LOL! -- I struggled to come up with a topic for this week.

So let's see .... what tops emotional intensity and layering ...

Taking a story from great to exceptional...memorable.

Let's start with the obvious. Most of us don't even shoot for memorable when we begin writing. We focus on coming up with something that works. Not that we consciously think, "I don't care if it's memorable." LOL We are pragmatic because we need to know all the building blocks for a workable story/book are there.

Then we come up with wonderful characters, people who can do justice to our story and we write. We usually pour our whole heart and soul into our story because we're writers and that's what we do. :)

But does any of us ever stop and say...Hum. This is good. Maybe even potentially great. What would make it exceptional?

In category romance, we sometimes laugh about how many "tropes" or hooks an author puts into her story, but an ordinary nanny story can be made exceptional if her boss is a billionaire, rancher, or bad boy.

Which means "exceptional" for category romance might be something different than it is for single title...or paranormal...or thriller.

Last night on a rerun of Castle, about 2/3 of the way through the hour, the police thought they'd solved the crime. Castle said, "But it's not a good story." And Beckett replied, "It's real life. Sometimes the story isn't good. It's obvious."

Not accepting that, Castle dug a little deeper and realized they had the wrong person in custody. The neat and tidy resolution they'd found to the crime was so neat a tidy to him (and his writer poker buddies) it looked like a frame-up.

When Castle dug deeper, and convinced the police to help him, they realized the victim's brother was bankrupt, and stood to gain millions of dollars when his dad died if his sister was out of the picture, so he killed her and framed an easy/obvious suspect. If they'd stopped at the easy answer, the wrong person would have gone to jail.

Is that what we do to our stories? Look for the easy answer? The easy black moment? The easy conflict? The easy characterization?

Do we ever think, like Castle, "But it's not a good story..." and dig just a little deeper?

Sometimes digging a little deeper simply requires asking the question "What if?"

But other times it takes a list of 20 or several lists of 20. Find twenty answers to How can I make this book exceptional? Or how can I make this hero sexier? Or how can I make this heroine more likeable? And before you know it, you'll have lots of choices for ways to make your book better than your original idea.

Happy Monday and Happy Reading...

susan meier

No comments: