Do I have enough story in my story? And why you should torture your characters.

Do I have enough story in my story?

That was a question that was asked a lot this past weekend by the presenters at the Surrey International Writers Conference.

Robert Dugoni, New York Times Bestselling author of legal thrillers, presented a workshop on Bringing Your Novel to Life.

Your story has to have enough story to be a story.

What is a story? A story is both a physical journey and an emotional and spiritual journey. Character and plot are side-by-side (or side-by-each as they say in some parts of Canada). The story unfolds through the character’s POV.

In a classic story structure you have a character in an everyday world who is called to adventure – an incident that starts the story. Opening scenes are external, not in someone’s head. There should be a story question for the overall novel (a long story question) and a series of questions (or obstacles) in each scene. In between the opening and the conclusion of the long story goal, pose a story question (after question) that creates tension.

If you want people to care about your characters, write about heroes. Write about people you want to be. Characters have to be real and they have to be flawed (and I'd add likable). This will emotionally invested the reader in your characters.

Robert suggests we torture our characters. Readers love it when our characters are in peril. Conflict is much more interesting than harmony.

Next post: What does the Buddha have to do with character development? And why has Jocosa of the Earrings taken a vow to stop cutting her hair. Intrigued? I can't imagine why you wouldn't be with a double-barreled cliff hanger like that!

Here’s a picture of a torture machine you can put your characters through ;-j


Mary said…
What is that!!??
Carol J. Garvin said…
Looks like a fun version our YVR airport security... walk through the gateway and send all your 'beep-ables' through the screening device in a box. An agonizingly slow process when you're rushing to catch a plane! :)

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