Tuesday, April 12, 2011

It's All About the STORY!!!!

It took me some time to figure this out.  As a new writer I was listening to a story in my head but it didn't have a path. It was all character and setting more than plot. So these scenes would flash across my brain and I'd have to write them down. One scene after the next like a flip book.

But the story? Not so much.  My first novel was one scene after another with beautiful moments and quirky characters. And here are some of the rejection lines I got.

"Beautiful! But not for us."
"Strong writing! But moves too slow."
"LOVELY! But no central theme."
"Ambitious. Too ambitious."

And they were all right, only I didn't understand how to fix what was wrong.

Until I read a book I couldn't put down and asked myself that all important question. "Why? Why can't I put this book down???"

And like a good writer,( and/or mechanic) I took the book apart.

It was the yarn. The ball of words that strung themselves together and pulled me from one point to the next. The breathless "And then????"

So, I humbly add to Stephen King's famous tip of the "What if?" in story telling. I give you Suzanne Hayes' practical way to get your story (novel) eaten up by agents and publishers alike:

Drum roll:    THE "And then?"  (You must create it at the bottom of every page. At the end of each chapter. Agent Anne calls them teasers.)

Oh, Oprah... take your "ah ha" moments. Me and my writing friends? We need "And Then???" moments.

For sure.



  1. And then I went back to work w/a new page to page goal... (Thanks for this.)

  2. YAY! Deb I SWEAR it's what we ALL need to focus on! Crazy simple and crazy true.

  3. Amen, sister. It's all clear now. Took me a while, though.

  4. Loretta, Me TOO. (You know it.....) and it seems way too simple, right? Only it WORKS.

  5. Tell me about it, plot is my downfall and something I plan to work on more in my next WIP. My current WIP is a YA contemporary romance so it's pretty much all about getting the characters together with the occasional push from the plot.
    - Sophia.

  6. So true...although I just had to do a Find and Delete in Word in my current WIP. (Still cracks me up that I have one of those...oops, two now.) The word I had to get rid of? "Then." A bit more subtlety is necesarry, but perhaps this means I'm going in the right direction?

    In the workshop I am currently taking the leader says: Action must move the story forward...He stepped on the gas pedal, peeled out of the parking lot and then...

  7. "And then???" LOVE the way you put it. BRILLIANT. :D