Here's the final installment on my "Writing Tip ABCs".
Engage the reader's SENSES, and he’ll become more involved in your story. Think about it, when you smell pine, don’t you think of Christmas, a forest, etc? Smells, sounds, locations you convey to your reader affect his involvement in a story.
Every SCENE should have a character goal which he may or may not achieve. Ending the scene with a cliffhanger propels the reader onto the next scene. If we writers succeed in doing this with all of our scenes we’ll lead the reader on a non-stop journey from the first scene to “The End.”
Where a story takes place should always be germane to the plot. Could “Gunfight at the OK Corral” be the same story if the SETTING were in Florida?
Stories usually have multiple TURNING POINTS. For example, the protagonist is going along living his normal life when 1. the inciting incident happens, and she’s got to set some new goals and make plans to meet her goals. 2. After she implements her plans, setback one happens, then setback two and so on. Each time a protagonist experiences a setback and determines she must reevaluate her goals and decide whether or not to make new goals, plans to meet them, etc. the story has likely had a turning point. Necessary turning points in stories include A. the climax, B. the dark moment, C. the resolution in addition to those cited above.
Call it drama, conflict or TENSION. If your story isn’t full of it, it’ll lack reader interest.
A TWIST is the addition of an unexpected event to a story used to heighten drama. Readers love to be surprised by logical TWISTS. Don’t contrive--be sure the twist is plausible. Foreshadowing it obscurely will add even more reader enjoyment.
UNDERDOGS can make great heroes. (Right Rocky?) Readers love to see a disadvantaged protagonist defeat tough odds and soar to victory.
Even in a fantasy world your story should be believable. If your tale is UNBELIEVABLE, illogical within the world you’ve created, readers will be very disappointed. I don’t know about you, but when I see a character in a movie running at top speed when he’s at 20,000 feet above sea level or when I watch one character hit another in the back with a lead pipe and in both situations the runner and the man hit by a pipe have no ill effects from the thin air or the ribs which must have been broken, it really ticks me off. Our heroes should be tough, but no human being can run at 20,000 feet, probably not even with oxygen usage. And no man can take being hit with a lead pipe at full force and not have broken bones. Superman can bounce back from almost anything because he’s Superman, and his “superness” is believable in the world where he exists.
Even though you as a writer do have the UPPER HAND in your story, readers are happier when your story is told well enough to make them feel they have the advantage over your characters at least part of the time.
Readers want to live VICARIOUSLY through your characters. They don't get to be super heroes, villains, FBI agents, temptresses, doctors, chamber maids,dog trainers, natives of Venus and Pluto, astronauts, cowboys or ballerinas in their normal lives. While they're reading your book, however, they can do or be anything. Give them a good ride.
The VOICE you use to tell your story depends on your book's genre, the time period it's set in, its setting, the type of writing you want to convey, etc.
Achieving VERISIMILITUDE in your writing is critically important if you want readers to believe your manufactured world, people, premise, etc. are believable.
Heroes and heroines shouldn't WAFFLE when it's time for them to make decisions. Decisiveness even in the face of fear is a trait readers admire in protagonists.
When a violent or erotic scene is required by the plot, authors who intend their book for a PG type of audience may have to WHITEWASH the scene in order to make it less objectionable to sensitive readers.
Choose your WAYS AND MEANS of telling your story carefully. The methods and resources you use should suit your genre and your audience.
A XENOPHOBE can make an interesting archetype, whether he is a hero or a villain. A political drama (or comedy) comes to mind because hardline party members are often contemptuous or even afraid of the competition.
Sidekicks who are YES MEN add comedy (Lex Luther/Otis) or insight (Sherlock Holms/Watson)to stories.
When spinning your YARN be sure to knit your scenes together smoothly.
The use of YOKELS and their vernacular will make a setting which is foreign to readers seem clearer, more believable.
The battles of protagonists against antagonists result in ZERO SUM GAMES. One side wins, the other loses. The best stories allow victories and losses on both sides.
Once your story has reached its ZENITH, resolutions and an ending should follow quickly.
Decide whether readers should see a scene in macro view or if you should ZOOM in on a critical action within a broad situation.
As always, for more Writing Tip ABCs, go to my Twitter page at: www.twitter.com/franshaff
Thanks for sticking with me throughout my Writing Tip ABCs series.