Thursday, July 22, 2010

Writing Tip of the Month

From the gals over at Bootcamp for Novelists-Linda Style and Connie Flynn


Each scene must have an outcome or consequence. Outcomes fall into two categories. The character encounters or revisits information that triggers a decision. The outcome of a decision is that the character must act on that decision.

Disaster and/or success trigger three possible futures. First, there is Yes (total success) and No (failure). Both these answers stop the forward movement of your story because conflict vanishes and the result is 'no future,' at least not for this story.

The answers that produce conflict are "Yes, but . . ." which means there's a cost. Yes, you can have the loan to save your farm, but you'll need to put up your mother's farm as collateral.

The other plot-moving answer is "No, and furthermore . . ." As in, "You and your little dog, too."

These are story consequences. As you can see, the future then becomes about more than losing just what you set out to gain. It's now about learning that there's more at stake than your character had the good sense to fear. This is tension, conflict, and it's guaranteed to leave readers biting nails and sitting on the edges of their seats.

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