Tuesday, August 11, 2009
By: Sandra Elzie
Did that title hook you into reading? Yes, I thought it would. It resonated enough with me that I wrote it down when Bob Mayer said it at a One-Day Workshop last year.
Are all fiction authors liars? Absolutely! (and proud of it!) This is one time when it’s okay to stretch the truth to fit your story and make your characters larger than life, meaner than a snake or sweeter than pie.
So, what are the ABCs of lying? Easy. The best liars, the most creative liars, win. Simple? Hardly.
When plotting your fiction book, it must start with a hook that will grab the reader, but then it must speed along to that Black Moment, that point in the story that forever changes the course of someone’s life, that situation where our beloved character is thrown to the wolves. This is when the rubber meets the road and he or she must take the bull by the horns and decide what to do next. There’s no going back…the bridge to yesterday just collapsed into the river.
Vince Lombardi said, “Success demands singleness of mind.” Your character must stay the course and your story must move with “singleness of mind” toward a conclusion, not straying down rabbit trails or getting bogged down with useless chatter.
So, let’s look at a quick example of what I’m talking about.
Some Black Moments put the character into a tight spot where they can’t undo a decision and their only choice is to move forward and deal with the consequences. Just how black is your black moment? Black enough?
Has one of your characters ever wished she were unpregnant? Undrunk? Unmarried? Once she is, it’s too late to be “Un” again. Like it or not, she’s married, pregnant and drunk. Oh, she can have the baby (or abort it), get a divorce or throw up, but the consequences will always trail her through her fictional life as your heroine. Well, maybe not the drunk part, but if your character drank and drove and crashed, there might be some long-term consequences in that also. At the very least, she’ll have a hangover and the mother of all headaches.
When you write a story, or when you read one, you want the hero and/or heroine to have huge obstacles to overcome (Dianna Love calls it making a situation suck and then make it suckier) but then we can root for them when they tackle these “suckie” things in life and win. We love to cheer for winners. Why do you think we write…or read romance? Almost always, the perfect guy gets his perfect mate in the end and they ride off into the future to live happily ever after…or until the sequel when the world trembles around them again and another Black Hole opens up to swallow them.
Do you enjoy throwing your characters into black moments (sneering as you rub your hands together in glee) or do you “hurt” them because you have to in order to give them something to overcome? Does it hurt you as much as it hurts them?
Share with us about writing Black Moments in your manuscripts, we’d love to hear your suggestions and experiences.
By-the-way, did you notice all the cliché’s? These are the things we’re supposed to avoid writing in our books. We need to have a fresh voice, a new and unique way to say these same things. How many of these no-nos did I include?