Wednesday, April 15, 2009

if its wednesday...

it's Ask Annie Day over at Sited & Blogged!

Question: I have lots of great ideas and even some stories started. But then I seem to run out of steam, and even I lose interest. Or I get so frustrated, I just have to quit. What's wrong? How can I keep my stories going all the way to the end?

Answer: This is a common problem, and one I sometimes experience myself. It always feels to me that I've "run out of story," so to speak. That's when I've learn to back up, and add more conflict. Conflict is the heart of all drama and fiction. We dont' really care about people without conflicts - we may be happy for them, but we aren't so interested in reading about them. They don't hold our interest for very long. Like Tolstoy said, all unhappy families are unhappy in their own way, and that's what makes them interesting.

So when you find yourself "running out of story," go back to the beginning, and see where you can beef up the conflict. maybe the heroine isn't so happy about her job. maybe she just got handed a big assignment. maybe your hero isn't handsome. try taking away something that's really important to the character. maybe they have a great relationship with a really supportive friend. put that person out of the country. in other words, look for places where they can have problems. make sure that what they want is something they really care about. then show us how much they care about it, by upping the amount of conflict around their achieving the goal. john grisham's book The Firm is an excellent example of how to build tension and interest by heaping conflict after conflict around the main character.

Next week, I'll talk a bit more about the three levels of conflict as I like to think of them, and how you can move up and down the levels as a way to power up your plots. Until then... happy writing... annie

18 comments:

April said...

I'll have to check it out, Annie...hope it's a fun and successful day for you!

Amy said...

Happy Wednesday to you.

Juls said...

:) Cool dealio!

Juls said...

Checked it out...great advice!

Martha said...

Cool site, thank you.

Walk in the Woods said...

The kinked blog is so cluttered, I couldn't be bothered trying to find you there. Sorry. :)

Walk in the Woods said...

Thought I'd try again this AM ... I still can't find your column ... and the direct link doesn't work. :(

Martha said...

Thank you so much for your sweet card. I am so glad you enjoyed your birthday and treat.

Juls said...

Annie,
I finally got around to listening to an archived radio talk show.... I really enjoyed it, I think... it did raise several questions in my mind...that I'm still trying to digest though... Me and my analytical mind.. It's a curse. :)... If I get it all sorted out, maybe I'll share more. I don't really know why I just typed that...and you don't have to post this--- Just wanted you to be aware.. Yeah, I don't know why. Someone put me out of my crazeeness! Take care!

rightonmom said...

Didn't know about that one..off to check it out. Thanks for the link.
Happy Thursday!

Walk in the Woods said...

Excellent! Thanks for posting it here. You rock!

Bee and Rose said...

That is great advice!


(pssst...my giveaway ends today...you may want to check out my enchanted brooms in yesterday's post too!)

Hi! I'm Grace said...

Great post, Annie. It is so nice to be back here again. :)

Judy Vars said...

I love what Tolstoy said: it rings so true. Who wants their story to be boring anyway.

Carolyn G said...

Good tips annie!! Hope you are doing well.

Lily Wyte said...

Thanks. I found you just at the right moment:)

I am Harriet said...

Annie!

I like you writing room. I want one just like it:)
Thanks for stopping by. Take care

Patti Gibbons said...

very cool info! back to reading blogs again. missed you. xp