A story must contain predicament, mêlée, and discovery. We also know our character must change/develop/learn something along the way.
I think it ‘clicked’ for me when someone said, “you do not have a story until something goes wrong.”
Simply put, our stories are about characters dealing with a ‘predicament’ or a situation that has created tension, stumbling blocks, distrust, and even fear. The key to writing exciting and interesting page turners is to focus on creating more and more tension as your story unfolds.
So how do you create a story with predicament, mêlée, and discovery? Start with grabbing the reader’s attention with the very first line. We’ve heard it many times; “no one waits for the action to begin.” Bingo!
The first line of my book, Atonement, is, “He bent her finger back . . . all the way back.” How do you follow that up? The second sentence, “It cracked loud and final.”
Hmmm . . . do you think I set predicament? I’d say so. How about mêlée? I’d say my character is definitely in a conflicting even hostile environment. How about discovery? I believe the reader must be asking him/herself, “Who is the killer?” Anyway – I hope they do.
We must establish the setting, mood and tone of the story immediately. You can start your book introducing your hero, heroine, or in my book, the protagonist. Whichever one you choose, make your reader care. They might not care about the protagonist, but them must care about the situation . . . and be looking for clues to his identity. If readers don’t care about your characters, they won’t care about your story, either.
With all of your main characters – find a way to present their normal life and introduce them to the now challenge(s) they are facing that has altered their world. How are they going to handle it? Be sure to promise discord and mayhem in the coming chapters.
Keep in mind, ‘normal life’ doesn’t remain perfect or challenge-free, it just means their typical world and now it’s been turned upside down.
We’ll continue tomorrow and discuss how crisis tips the scales. J