Fear is a powerful motivator. Fear can cause us to face a new challenge in a desire to conquer it. Fear can also prevent us from achieving goals because we are afraid of failure.
How do you show what a character is afraid of? How do you reveal fear without saying it directly?
John Smith is afraid of death. How do you reveal this through storytelling?
Shape of Water won the Academy Award for Best Picture 2018. This has me in the mood to talk about love stories. Because sure, it's a science fiction story that has a theme that the humans are the real monsters. That's straight out of original series Twilight Zone. The thing everyone talks about though is the woman falling in love with the fish dude.
Why is the focus so hard on the ROMANCE of the story?
Because Love Stories Make A PROMISE.
Love stories are popular because they drive toward a Happily Ever After (HEA). A romance novel without an HEA will infuriate a reader and can lead them to never read your work again.
The genre you choose, the way you open the story, the characters you put in the story; all of these set up a promise to your readers.
What promises are you making with your current work in progress? How will you fulfill those promises?
Sometimes telling a story is complicated. Sometimes, if you make the process complicated, the story comes more easily.
Today's free-write is intended to challenge your imagination. Not in an effort to engage you in the fantastical, but to stretch your thought processes to see how unrelated ideas can connect and create a new idea.
Write a basic sentence about a dog.
Write a second one about a horse.
Write a third one about you.
How would you use those 3 sentences to tell a story?
Would your story be funny, sad, happy?
Who would you tell this story to?
Today's free-write is about motivation. In reality and fiction, we always want to understand why someone does the things they do.
When telling a story, the why behind a character doing something is just as important as what they do. Spiderman fights crime because his Uncle Ben died. Charley Davidson is a private investigator because she's the grim reaper, and she's talked to dead people her whole life.
Think about the story you’re reading. Why does the main character (the hero) do what they do? What would have to be different to stop them from being the hero?
Where a character is physically is just as important as where they are emotionally. Often, the physical location within a narrative represents some aspect of the character's internal struggle.
When someone is upset, it's often raining. When someone is happy, there is often balloons, music, sunshine, or rainbows.
Musicals and plays are very good at this because the set is often another character in the narrative.
So let's change the physical space and see what it does.
Have you ever been on a boat? How was it different from being on land?
If you haven’t been on a boat, what do you think it would feel like? How would you feel when the ground moves?
Designing creative narration is often where writers struggle most. Moving a character from one room to another, weaving in a piece of background information, shifting from one setting to another; all of these present opportunities to make the prose sing or fall horribly flat.
So comes today's challenge:
How do you explain how something happened and make it interesting? This, then that, then this – blah blah. How do you make it more than a list? What details do you add to entice the reader to keep moving forward with the story?
How we perceive ourselves is a crucial prism through which we experience the world.
This applies to our stories and our characters as well. It's not only how we see our character in their world, it's how they see themselves in that world. It affects how they interact with their world.
How would you describe yourself in a story?
Think about more than what you look like –
Today in my kids' writing class, we talked about stereotypes. I explained that stereotypes can be useful for writing because when I say puppy, often the first word to come to mind is cute. Like this:
Sometimes we rely on stereotypes instead of challenging ourselves to move our writing to the next level. So here's today's prompt:
Without using the word “fluffy” describe a teddy bear. Focus on more than just what you can see. Smell, sound, touch, even taste (babies put everything in their mouths). You experience the world with more than just your eyes.
HAPPY NEW YEAR!
One of the pieces of writing advice that's hardest to understand is "Show Don't Tell." I find the best way to do this is to remember that what a character does isn't an ACTION.
It's a REACTION.
What if people wore signs to show how they were really feeling?
How would you reconcile a laughing face with a grieving sign?
What sign would you wear when you smile?
What about when you cry?
Writers love symbols. We love them because they’re an easy way to invoke a feeling, or a person, or a memory with a single object.
Think about an object that could symbolize you.
I take pride in being a Writing Fugleman for my fellow authors. Here is a tool to help you hone your craft.