For our September “Learn to Write by Reading” challenge, we invited you to examine books that had characters with mysterious backstories. Now, apply what you learned to your own manuscript.
Note how the writer builds the mystery by sprinkling in more and more information as the story progressed while withholding the truly important stuff. Is the writer subtle or overt with the hints, or some of both? As a reader, which methods work best to make you desperate to learn the whole story about the pivotal event in the characters past, and which methods annoy you?
Now apply what you’ve learned to your story and decide where, when, and how best to tease the reader and build suspense about your character’s past.
Which comes first? Character or plot? And how do they relate to each other?
Years ago, looking for my wedding dress, I ran across a curious problem. I had indulged when selecting dresses to try on. Things with layers and embellishments, interesting skirts and bodices. They were beautiful and unique. Lavish.
Eagerly I began the process of getting into them (it required help), and a parade of beautiful designs soon greeted me, one after another, from the mirror. Bit by bit, though, my excitement dimmed as I realized that, while beautiful, none of them looked right on me.
Now, I’m no runway model, but those dresses should have at least looked okay. Why didn’t they? Continue reading
You’re awake. Instead of writing the Great American Novel—or even a mediocre one—you’re reading our blog. Okay, then. We offer a topic; you respond. Let your fellow writers inspire you, and return to that manuscript refreshed.
Does a protagonist really have to change over the course of a story or is it enough for you as a reader if she just discovers a truth?
You finally have a moment to write, but what to do with your limited time? Here’s a practical prompt to kickstart the story you’re working on right now. The clock is ticking, people. Start writing.
Be mean to your hero. If the protagonist accomplishes his or her goals too easily, there is no tension, and the story becomes boring. It’s OK for the hero to fail (and fail, and fail, and fail) until he or she finally achieves the goal. Victory is sweeter when the outcome is not assured.