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Any Questions?

There's one powerful motivator that led your reader to your book - curiosity. Our brain doesn't stop asking questions because it knows that's how it learns and evolves. Questions raise uncertainty. Unknowns. And if there's an unknown, then humans want to make it known. There will be a big question that drives your story, so take a couple of minutes to consider the mother-question that propels your book from beginning to end.Your manuscript also needs to be powered by lots of little questions. Your book will need a variety of whos, whens, whys, and wheres to keep your reader engaged. In fact, every scene in your book needs to have a question define it. It's what will keep your reader turning those pages. Review each of your scenes and identify the question/s hanging over it, because once you nail that, their mind will be asking the most important question of all - what happens next?

A New Chapter

Pick up one of your favorite novels. Open it to a random page. Whatever chapter you land on, rewrite it your own way. Take it in a totally different direction than how it actually plays out in the book.

The Story Swamp

Sometimes writers think up a character and jump straight into writing, without fully fleshing out the concept at a foundational level. This then means they falter and end up writing a very confused draft. I call this 'The Story Swamp.'Avoid The Story Swamp by writing a 'logline' or 'pitch' of approximately 25-60 words. This logline should cover what B2W calls The 3 Cs:Character: Who is your protagonist? What does s/he need or want?Conflict: Who is the antagonist? Why does s/he want to stop or counter your protagonist? What other obstacles are in your protagonist's way?Clarity: Do we know what genre or type of story this is? Are you using familiar or clich_d language? Are your word choices too vague?

Pride, Prejudice, and Zombies

"It is a truth universally acknowledged that a zombie in possession of brains must be in want of more brains." So began Seth Grahame-Smith's book, Pride and Prejudice and Zombies, which (you guessed it) re-imagined Jane Austen's Pride and Prejudice in a world with zombies. Sometimes one big twist is all it takes to get you thinking about a story in a different way. How would the introduction of zombies shake things up in your world? How would it affect the relationships between your characters? How would it change priorities? Which parts of your world would stay the same, and which parts would be different? Detail this in a short story of 1,000-2,000 words.

Clue Hunt

The best way to learn is by reading, so pick up a book that had a plot twist that surprised you and yet felt right. Look for subtle foreshadowing in it. Start at the beginning of the book and find the clues that point towards the twist. Make a list of them. Include the wording, so that you can see why they weren't obvious at first.