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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?

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?

The Page-Turner

Have you read a book you couldn't put down? A good writer knows how to keep the reader's attention - and the secret of that is pacing. Take a page-turner and analyse how it kept you gripped. Usually it's because each scene introduced something new, which might be a major revelation or a tiny shift in the way the reader perceives a character. Run through the entire book and write down the purpose of every major scene and turning point.

Choose Your Adventure

In a "Choose Your Adventure" book, you are forced to make a decision at each and every plot point. The decisions you make will take you down diverging paths and dictate your eventual fate. Try this if you're stuck on a plot development detail in your story. Sketch out the two different paths that a character can experience from one plot point, depending on what action he or she chooses to take.

The Hook

What is your story's hook? Analyze your opening scene and identify the implicit but specific question it encourages readers to ask. Is this question in the first paragraph or, better yet, the first line? How can you strengthen it?