Where have you been, some may ask. Sick was I. Better now. So to catch up, take a look at some tips by other writer/bloggers with great advice for improving your work in progress and/or your blog.
First up, from Jacqui Murray’s Worddreams . . . blog: The Power of Positive Writing. Jacqui argues that a negative tone will, not surprisingly, have a negative effect on your story. Here’s two examples on doing rewrites to fix the problem.
Here’s a quick test. Search a chapter of your manuscript (use the Alt+F4 Find shortkey) for ‘not’ and all variations of that (including contractions). Every time possible, switch the negative for a positive. For example, instead of:
‘She couldn’t run anymore’
‘Throat rasping, she screeched to a slow stumble’.
‘She couldn’t see out the window’
‘All she saw was the grimy dirt of a window that had gone years without a wash’.
When you’ve switched as many as you can, re-read your manuscript. Does it sound more powerful? More engaging? Now go through your entire manuscript like that. Sure, you’ll skip some–they’ll need to be negative–but as many as 70% can be switched. That will make the negative parts more striking.
Next up, let’s look at how Diane Tibert suggests you improve a story by ensuring that whatever the protagonist fears the most happens. How so? In a recent blog post she explains how a conversation with her 13-year-old son illustrated the point.
“The best movies,” he said, “are the ones where everything the characters fear will happen, happens.” He smirked. “We can’t let Ronan get the orb. What happens? Ronan gets the orb.”
(Guardians of the Galaxy: The orb holds the power stone, and Ronan is the bad guy.)
He continued. “We can’t let Ronan get on the ground.”
(If Ronan reaches the planet Xandar and is able to touch the orb to the ground, everything will be destroyed.)
He smiles. “Ronan gets on the ground. See, it’s gotta happen that way.” He got up and left, leaving his wisdom for me to mull over.
I agreed quickly that he was right. Whatever the characters feared most had to happen. Then, as writers, we have to figure out how they either save themselves or the world in which they live. Through this action, the characters grow and become more interesting to readers.
Finally, we have Jean Cogdell coming to grips with the problem of structure in her Jean’s Writing blog. She confesses to being a “pantser,” but has come to realize there may be a point to some outlining if only to gain control over the story. Here’s a snippet of what she has to say.
Got a story that just aggravated you almost to insanity? Nothing is working? Take it and try breaking it down into 3 simple acts and then break those acts down further.
Here is the basic outline I’m working with.
Act I – Opening
- Hook – conflict
- Protagonist in daily life before transformation
- Opportunity to change
- Resistance to change
- Point of no return
- Opportunity accepted
Act II – Entering the new situation
- Meeting friends, enemies, romance;
- Transformative experiences
- Problem brings them together
- Problem drives them apart
- Crisis Hits
- Terrible Secret Revealed
By breaking down the story little by little, I’m giving it time to grow and hoping to find more freedom and inspiration with smaller chunks.