There are pivotal moments in every writer’s writing life. It might be the day we finish our first novel, or the day we sign with an agent or publisher. For me, the day came when I realized the significant edits that I’d made to satisfy a publisher’s requirements meant my work no longer reflected my values. It did not glorify God. Quite the opposite. It glorified sin.
Does your reader need to know your protagonist’s backstory and other vital information? Yes. Should you dump the entire shebang in one go? You already know the answer to that. But how to achieve that sprinkling of salt so perfect a master chef couldn’t fault you? Read on.
A few months back I explored the “setup” and “payoff” elements that create a satisfying story. As you can read back in that article, it’s non-optional. Integrated elements however, work at a high level to make the story three dimensional. They’re not mandatory, but they make your story pop.
I’ve been hearing a lot about ChatGPT, and when I complained to a (non-writer) friend I was struggling with a chapter, he said “just get ChatGPT to write it”. Ha! Normally I’m a bit of a luddite, but I figured if it’s what the kids are doing, I should give it a go. While ChatGPT is definitely hit and miss, you can use it as a tool similar to a thesaurus.
An element of literature and film I find a lot of fun is the power of two completely opposite characters being brought together by a common event or goal. Once there, they find themselves in a scenario where they want precisely the opposite things.
Last time I wrote about the layers of setup and pay-off within a well written story. Moving back a step, I thought I’d touch on the stories that create those layers with a very simple guide. It neatly summarises how I write any story—screenplay, novel or otherwise.
When I embark on a new writing project, I always consider the setups and the payoffs. By that I mean the events that connect and give a certain satisfying symmetry to the story. The more of these elements scattered throughout the work the better, as they add layers and complexity for the reader. They also ensure that you don’t have an un-fired Chekov’s gun, or an unsatisfactory deux ex machina happening.
The past couple of years the culinary buffet has been about as popular as a cough in an elevator. Not so the metaphorical buffet of writing circles, critique partners and other peer feedback. But sometimes all this amazing (and sometimes contradictory) feedback can leave a writer confused with a side of panic.
As a writer of romantic suspense, and more recently inspirational romantic suspense, tropes come with the territory for me. There are some I like more than others. But the beauty of a trope is that the reader knows what they’re going to get.
Patience. What does that word mean to you? To me, it is taking a deep breath and persisting—often uphill—with faith that I will get there in the end. It’s a habit and a state of mind, and it requires a lot of practice. Fortunately, as writers, the practice comes whether we want it or not.