Tuesday, September 20, 2011

The problem of the story, a driving force.

As promised, today I am going to talk about the writing conference I went to - the league of Utah Writers Roundup.

The best part about it was meeting awesome blogging friends --


From left to right Abby, David, and me.

But I learned so much too! I want to share some of my knowledge with you so I am going to be doing these posts in four part series. Today (as you may have guessed from the title) we are going to talk about problem in our story.

If you haven't heard of John Brown it's high time you looked him up. Not only did he write this book -

But he is a great speaker as well. He compared the problem in the story to the engine of the car. If you don't have a problem you aren't going anywhere.

Yes, we need to have Character, setting, plot, and text, but without the problem there is nothing to drive the story forward.

He gave some great examples to prove his point. In Jurassic Park if there where no dinosaurs what would the story be? Everyone goes to the zoo, the end.

More so than that, problem is what can help us through plot holes. If we ever come to place in our books when we say "what happens next?" we should look at the problem and make a decision based on that. Then will have no problems writing a cohesive story.

Now, not all problems have to be as obviously threatening as a dinosaur out to kill everyone but there can be more subtle ways of creating tension. Here are the three categories John mentioned to us.

1. Danger or Threat - Think Jurassic Park and Hunger Games.
2. Hardship/ Lack of Opportunity - Think Beautiful Mind and Jane Austen
3. Mystery - Think National Treasure and Da vinci Code

Of course, most stories combine more than one element of these.

What I took from it: When writing, we should think less about what we want to achieve and more about how the characters would handle their situation and what problems they are faced with.

What kind of problem is your favorite to read?

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Just another reminder about the awesome party/giveaway coming up this Friday for the Life List Club. DON'T MISS IT!
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