I love some of Jordan Dane’s posts. This one is a keeper.
5 Key Steps to Develop a Story from Scratch
Here are some choice quotes:
- Imagine basic ‘what ifs” about a potential character (a storyteller) and a problem
- Next, whose story will it be?
- What is the external conflict between the main players (villain or adversary included)?
- What’s at stake & how will the stakes escalate and play out?
- Now draft your “pitch” or a premise.
Jordan Dane’s unpacked explanations offer real insight on this thorny process which is really the whole process of writing in microcosm. And that’s good advice you can take to the bank.
A good premise should:
- Be concise
- Be evocative
- Be framed from a “what if” question
- Be written in present tense with an easily understood sentence structure that makes the story seem familiar yet with a hook or difference to stand out from other books.
- It should contain a character, a conflict, and a hook.
- It should have universal appeal
- Be limited in word count (maybe up to 35 words or less, or 2-3 concise sentences)
- The core story should be centered on an idea that jumps out at anyone.
I recommend reading the entire article and applying it to a future work-in-progress.
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Guest-blogger Mike Wells posted a really clear explanation of what makes a compelling synopsis the other day on The Kill Zone blog.
The five elements are: a (1) hero who finds himself stuck in a (2) situation from which he wants to free himself by achieving a (3) goal. However, there is a (4) villain who wants to stop him from this, and if he’s successful, will cause the hero to experience a (5) disaster.
Head on over to https://killzoneblog.com/2015/09/a-secret-formula-for-creating-a-short-synopsis.html to read the post in its entirety.
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Posted in Genre, Terms and Definitions, tagged Blue Ridge Mountains Christian Writers Conference, BRMCWC, Christian, Horror, Mike Dellosso, Mystery, Suspense, The Kill Zone, Thriller on November 9, 2011|
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Christian suspense author Mike Dellosso gave a talk of the same name at the 2011 Blue Ridge Mountains Christian Writer’s Conference (BRMCWC): Is Christian Fiction an Oxymoron?
Well, is it?
It’s a difficult thing to define but you’ll find my answer at the bottom of this post. My answer in turn is based on another slippery definition: What does it mean for a story to be Christian?
I posit that Christian stories contain an element of redemption. No more, and no less. Examples:
- When a high school basketball star becomes pregnant during her Junior year, she must choose between a future with the child, adoption, or abortion.
- After an inner-city detective discovers his partner has been taking payoffs, he must choose between friendship and duty.
Now, what is redemption? What does this quality look like in fiction? I think of it as an opportunity, a choice presented to a character to do the right thing – or not. This is often a choice between bad and worse rather than good and evil, an agonizing decision colored in smoke and shades of gray.
So if being Christian means there exists an element of redemption, what of horror?
Most people would define horror as being that which elicits fear in the reader. But suspense often induces fear too so I find this definition lacking. I tend to separate horror from suspense along the lines of hope and meaning. In horror, there is a general lack of hope or expectation of meaning behind whatever is going on. However in suspense, there is generally a very good reason why the bad guy is doing bad guy things which is revealed by the end. Plus, the good guy is expected to be triumphant at the end of the story. Not so with the horror.
By the way, these should not be confused with Thrillers where we get to watch the villainy happen as it were over the antagonist’s shoulder. Someone on The Kill Zone Blog defined Thrillers as mysteries in reverse: Mysteries start with a crime and thereafter follow the detective working through clues to determine whodunit. By contrast, thrillers often begin with a credible threat and then follow the protagonist questing to prevent it from being executed.
So, is Christian Horror an oxymoron? Can something with a redemptive quality lack meaning? Yes, by having the chooser make the wrong decision, especially the wrong eternal decision. What’s more frightening to a Christian than a sinner rejecting the offer of salvation? This dooms them to hell, a very frightening thought.
Image from http://www.mixcloud.com/black-buddah/literature-mystery-thriller-horror/
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Interesting thoughts on where publishing is going in a convenient list of bullet points. My thanks to Nancy Cohen for sharing on The Kill Zone.
- Everyone will be reading on their mobile phones in the future. What will this mean for the art of writing? Smaller paragraphs, shorter books, scenic descriptions perhaps replaced by video.
- Ebooks will be the next mass market.
- Think global. People in other countries want to read our work and they want these stories to take place in the U.S. so they can read about our lives here. The demand will continue to grow exponentially. This is a huge potential market.
- Many pirate sites originate overseas where English language content is unavailable. How to combat piracy? Cost and Convenience. Make our work cheaper and easier to obtain.
- Be prolific to build your brand.
- Don’t think of writing as draining your mental energy so you need to refill the creative well. Think of writing as recharging your batteries so that the more you write, the more you’ll want to write. It’s harder to restart the engine so keep it running.
- Publishers need to step up to the plate and provide authors with editorial, distribution, promotion, and product if they’re to be viable in the future. The most important role of publishers continues to be as a gatekeeper for a quality read.
- Social networking is crucial for authors to establish a platform.
- Reviews still drive book sales, and bloggers are the new reviewers.
- Indie bookstores still have tremendous influence. They may still be around after the chains go out of business. Establish a connection with your indie booksellers.
- Writers with a backlist have many different avenues to explore to make their books available to readers again. This is an exciting time because we can bring our stories directly to readers ourselves.
Source: The Kill Zone: Brainstorming on the Beach
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