Thursday, April 2, 2009

Fiction Writing - Changes to Keep Your Story Moving

Recently, I reread an article in an old Writer's Digest magazine written by Nancy Kress. The title of the article is "How to Grow a Story." Ms. Kress has been published numerous times and obviously knows how to move a story forward.

The premise of her article is there are three main changes to keep your story growing. Today, let's look at the first change she mentions: "The Situation-Change Story." In the situation change story, there isn't a lot of character development. In this type of story, we have a problem with which the characters must deal. The problem is either introduced as the story opens or shortly after it begins. Examples of this might be: someone has stolen the start-up money for a homeless shelter, or the colonists on the space station learn someone has sabotaged their shuttle. By the end of the stories, we know who stole the start-up money, and it's been returned; and we know who sabotaged the shuttle and why. The problems are solved. Solutions to the problems make the ending situation different from the opening one.

In today's fiction, this technique isn't often used. Most readers want the characters they're reading about to change and grow. In a situation change story, this doesn't happen. In this type of story, the writer must create characters which can hold the readers' attention without the conflict most often found in stories today.

Before using this technique, be sure your story is one which is more a tongue-in-cheek romp with little pertinence to reality. If you can make your situations ones which shock your reader or cause them to gulp - then have fun and write that situation change book you've always wanted to write.

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