Tuesday, May 13, 2014
STORY NITTY-GRITTIES CON’T . . . BY RITA KARNOPP
That brings us to the crisis that tips the scales and sends our character on an internal and external journey . . . taking the reader with him. This predicament spirals the story into motion.
You can introduce a crisis into your story in two ways.
· Start your story by allowing your character to have what he aspires most, then snatch it away.
· Or, you can forbid him what he desires most and then dangle it in front of him.
o He’ll either; lose something significant or crucial and spend the story trying to regain it,
o or he’ll spot something enviable or pleasing and spend the entire story trying to obtain it.
Let’s say your hero desires love more than anything else. His fear lies with rejection. You may introduce the character in a fulfilling, loving relationship, and then create a crisis that destroys it. Perhaps she falls back in love with an old boyfriend who ends up being a serial killer, or perhaps his wife/girlfriend dies in a freakish accident…or was it an accident? The character not only is in need of answers, he aspires for love in his life. You should seduce, entice, and even lure a promising relationship just beyond his reach so he chases it throughout the story.
Let’s discuss what I like to call the mêlée of your story. Say what? The fight, encounter, skirmish, combat, scuffle, conflict, confrontation, and even fracas! You won’t have a story if you don’t challenge your characters to face a catastrophe or disaster – one that he’ll do whatever it takes to resolve the issue, but also one that will transform him forever. If characters don’t change . . . what’s the purpose of the story?
I love the sentence; plot is the journey toward transformation. Our readers expect internal and external struggles that need to be resolved.
As your story progresses - the consequences of not solving those two struggles (internal and external) need to become more and more private, individual and distressing. If you do this, then as the stakes are elevated, the two struggles will serve to propel the story forward and intensify, even heighten reader commitment and fascination.
That finally brings us to where our characters make a discovery that changes their life. Our characters must be cunning, resourceful, creative, innovative, and very clever while he pieces together and shows persistence, determination, grit, tenacity, and even endurance to overcome the crisis he’s been dealt.
As you develop your story and cultivate your character(s), ask yourself if your character(s) will either change into someone more complete, perceptive or content, or will he leap into collapse or anguish. This change marks the outcome of the crisis and the conclusion of the story.
As a result of confronting the struggle and creating a new normal, our character’s actions and attitude should be apparent in the story’s end.