What makes a #goodstory? Action and #con

What makes a #goodstory? Action and #consequence, flawed #protagonists, sympathetic #antagonists
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how to distinguish your writing

Avoid cliché

Avoid ordinary words and familiar descriptions

 

Use active verbs

Avoid passive voice: is, are, was, were, be, being, been, shall, will, have, has, had

 

Don’t say too much about something that’s not important

Don’t say too much about something that is important

Make sure every word is impactful and necessary

 

See and think innovatively

It is only through risk that you can capture the impossible

 

 

creative writing is personal

It can be lonely and it can alleviate loneliness. It can render, change and challenge meaning. It can distract you, and drive you to distraction.

At times, it is an emotional process of undisciplined thought that taps into subconscious narrative.

It is also a disciplined, self conscious process that manages and optimizes the potential of story.

For most writers it is best to write in two stages.

Stage 1 = generate material, often using the process of free-writing to capture the unplanned and unexpected.

Stage 2 = manage the material, making conscious decisions about the shape and content.

Both Stage 1 and Stage 2 are creative and can be deeply satisfying and rewarding.

Every writer ultimately develops an approach that works best for them.

What works for one writer may not work for another – and what worked yesterday may not work today.

Writing creatively requires a delicate balance, but there is no ‘right’ or ‘wrong’ way to do it.

 

 

dialogue: electrical connection

Using words or phrases from the Electrical Connection Instructions text below, create a scene between two characters.

Electrical Connection – The electrical installation should be made and maintained by a qualified electrician conforming to national and local codes. A means for disconnection must be incorporated in the fixed wiring in accordance with the wiring rules. A suitable fuse or circuit breaker with properly sized wire must protect the 3-wire power to the fountain. For wiring connections, see wiring diagram. Wire nuts may be used for the 120-volt and neutral splices.

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As you write your scene, think of dialogue as a transaction – one character wants something that the other is withholding. People meet and clash or bargain or make or break alliances –tension between characters is reflected in what they say –or don’t say – to each other. Characters, like people, often convey one thing by saying something else. The subtext of dialogue will often derive from the character’s underlying need and true intentions.

Here’s mine:

Electrical Connection

“Otis, honey, I worry that Selma doesn’t have your best interests at heart.” Fiona Reese hovered over her son, holding an exacto knife, electrical tape and a National Electrical Code Manual at the ready. “Daddy and I just want you to have the best, and we don’t think she’s…” Fiona kept her voice light, “in our league.”

Otis had his back to her, squeezed into the space between the entertainment center and the wall. She couldn’t deny that he had put on a few pounds since his wrestling days and this disappointed her a little.  She strained to see over his shoulder, catching a glimpse of the exposed electrical wires spilling out of a hole in the faux mahogany paneling she had insisted on for the den. Her hands itched she wanted so badly to get in there and show him how to do this.

Keeping one beefy hand on the wiring, Otis handed the needle nose pliers over his shoulder. “You’ll like her once you get to know her.” He said.

Fiona gave him the exacto knife and tape before he had to ask – she felt a flush of pride, it was unlikely that Selma could anticipate his needs as well as she.

“How can we get to know her if she never comes to visit?” Fiona could count on one finger the number of times Selma had been to this house. “We just don’t think she likes us.”

“She loves you and Daddy. She told me.”

Well that was a bald-faced lie. Otis had gotten himself involved with yet another unfriendly, self-centered woman.

Even with the little weight problem Otis had because of his first wife, Fiona could still say that he was a catch. Fiona taught biology in elementary school and when she instructed her students about Mendel and his peas, she liked to think about how Otis, of all her children, had inherited the lion’s share of her genes.  She did wonder sometimes – if she had married someone more her equal – perhaps the other children might have turned out as smart and good looking as she and Otis were.

Her husband was a miserable failure when it came to home improvements, so she had assigned Otis the task of installing the fountain in their den as soon as he arrived for the holidays. Otis was so like her, he could do anything he set his mind to.  Just give him the tools and the time.

But still, it wouldn’t hurt to read him the instructions one more time. She looked at the instruction manual.  Skipping the part where it said The electrical installation should be made and maintained by a qualified electrician conforming to national and local codes. She read aloud: “A means for disconnection must be incorporated in the fixed wiring in accordance with the wiring rules. A suitable fuse or circuit breaker with properly sized wire must protect the 3-wire power to the fountain.” She stopped reading and lowered the manual, “Hun, I don’t think you’re doing it right.”

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Now it’s your turn.

As you work on the dialogue ask yourself: What does each of the characters want? What is the source of the tension between them? What is the progression of the dialogue?  What transaction has taken place?

Dialogue should always move the story forward, and reveal something about the character’s attitudes, perceptions and values.  Every dialogue scene should involve some conflict, even if it is just passive resistance, back and forth, like a contest or competition.

Give yourself 10 minutes to write, once you start writing don’t stop until ten minutes is up. This prevents the editor in you from interrupting your creative flow.

When you have completed your Electrical Connection Dialogue feel free to post it in the space provided below.