Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Writing Inspiration Wednesday

For those I know who are stressed out writing their next books under intense deadline (with ft jobs, kids, and other pressures), here's a great one to get your mind wheel turning:

Complication versus Situation: A Primer

I once spent four miserable years on a version of a novel that had a great situation: a murder-suicide that left an orphaned child who was taken in by her aunts. My problem? I mistook situation for complication. A situation, however complicated, is self-contained. A complication, however simple, opens up, affording a path out. Excellent complications afford several paths and, in a short story, you take one path; in a novel you might take five.

So how does one turn a situation into a complication, one that will engender the story's rising action and lead to a climax and a denouement that satisfies both writer and reader? One starts adding, is what one does. Pile it on, baby, until something cracks. What if the depressed person holding a gun to his head gets a phone call--a wrong number? Who might this wrong number be? What might this wrong number say? What if the wrong number is herself a person in trouble? What if the wrong number demands something of the depressed person? How does the depressed person solve this problem?

Bingo, we're writing again.

A good complication illuminates, thwarts, or alters the character's desire. A good complication forces the character to act. A good complication offers the story a point of departure. A good complication raises the stakes. A good complication thickens the plot.

This pushed me back to my writing today. Go for it!

Playing on the iPod: Smile (Lily Allen)

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