Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Wednesday's Writer's Tip - Focusing your story

First let me say this is one of the best books I've read on writing and I've used it since I began writing. The first copy of this book was loaned to someone who never returned it so I bought a new one. I learned so much about writing from the book and also from the editors who, years ago, made comments on my stories and sent me back to re-write.

There is a little thing I've used when writing gleaned from this book. For me it usually comes after the rough draft is completed or when I try several first chapters that go no-where. What this technique does is allows you to see the focus of the story and that starts with deciding which character is the focus of the story. Sometimes this is easy but often in writing romance both the hero and the heroine seem to be the focus characters. This isn't necessarily so. Here's a look at how I find my way before too much is lost. The technique was found in Techniques of the Selling Writer by Dwight V. Swain.

It is a statement followed by a question and sums up the entire book to keep me on track. So I'll show you how it works for me since it's being used in a story I'm currently writing.

When Rafe Marshall returns to take the position as Director of Nursing at Fern Lake General, he encounters Manon Lockley MD, the girl he deserted on the night of their senior prom because of threats voiced by her father. Will he be able to convince Manon that he loves her when she believes the lies she has been told?

Here we have the focus character Rafe and the situation. At first, I thought Manon was the focus character, but this wasn't working. Then the reason hit me. Rafe has the most to lose and to gain in the story. The situation is addressed by his return and the why of his return is given. The goal or objective is stated and the opponent is named. Also the potential for disaster is named. Once I had this down the story has moved ahead rapidly.

I've been using things gleaned from this book for my weekly tips and have sort of jumped ahead but wanted to share what put me on track.


Melissa Keir said...

I'm always so happy that you are sharing this tips. It really helps me with my own writing! Thanks!

Janice Seagraves said...

Great post. I thought about my work in progress as I read your post.