Sometimes we get so involved in writing exquisite words and fancy sentences that we forget to go with our gut. For sure, as writers we must write well, but not at the expense of beautiful sentences with no actual story to bind them together.
Where’s the Beef?
Never a truer piece of advertising! You can be as lyrical and poetic as you want, with elaborate descriptions and detailed narrative but if you do not grab your reader by the gut and twist it, they will just wonder what the story is about? The intricate descriptions may hold their attention for a while, but in the they will put the book down because they don’t know where and what it is leading to.
If you can write as well as Ernest Hemingway but have no plot, no characters that grab you by the throat and prevent you from breathing, no twists and turns and no exciting adventures that leave you panting for more – you have nothing. You must have a story … and an interesting one at that. The fancy writing comes second.
Fantastic writing, a great way with words and vivid dialogue will only get you so far. A juicy plot is what you need first. Good writing is second. Why? Because if your story is gripping, your reader will want to know what comes next. J.K. Rowling will never be in the same literary class as V.S. Naipaul but who cares?
There are only a select few who even know who V.S. Naipaul is (FYI – he is a Trinidad-born Nobel Prize-winning author) but there is almost no one in the world who does not find Rowling’s Harry Potter series gripping or who has not heard about them.
Rowling can bring a story alive in a way that most writers cannot and that’s because she has such a compelling story. You just can’t wait to find out what happens to poor old Harry Potter. His future is so unpredictable that we cannot help reading on. Even her secondary characters are fully formed and have lives of their own that we can’t help getting invested in.
What does our gut want?
- A Juicy Problem
Our story must open with something crucial to the hero that takes him out of his comfort zone and instantly gives the reader something and someone to root for. They must know what the point of the story is.
Know what your protagonist wants.
- An Emotional Connection
The reader wants to connect with the story in a visceral way – with a gut feeling that he/she is going to love or hate the main character. Reading fiction is not a cold and dispassionate activity – you can leave that for studying something dry and dull like statistics. With fiction, we want to feel that connection to the protagonist and insidiously experience whatever the heroine is encountering – her fears, risks, adventures, her love – whatever.
- A Deeper Meaning
Your whole story is not just about the plot and the twists and turns it may take. It’s about the protagonist and how he changes as a result of whatever he has to go through. In other words, the reader doesn’t just want to know how the main character solves his problem. The reader wants to know how the character will evolve and see the world differently because of how he surmounted the problem and achieved his goal.
What is your reader really rooting for when they read your story? It should be more than just your heroine achieving her goal.
2016 Spring Writing Classes for Beginners and Advanced
Creative Writing 101 – Tues. afternoons April 12 – June 28 in Oakville (space still available)
Crafting Your Novel – Wed. afternoons April 13 – June 29 in Oakville (FULL)
Crafting Your Novel – Thurs. afternoons April 14 – June 30 in Oakville (1 spot left)
For more details click on the links or email email@example.com