The Big Wonder
So, stories tend to need that internal motivator/quest/motivation to keep their plot chugging forward and to keep the reader engaged. As you know, I talk about desire lines way too much, which are all about the emotional through-line for the characters in our stories, but another way to think about the internal motivation is to think of it as the Big Wonder or Big Question.
Tom French calls this the engine of the story. And it’s these questions that make the readers keep reading.
In a mystery, it’s obvious: Who did it?
In a thriller, it’s usually: Will they survive?
In a romance, it’s often: Will they bang and will they bang forever?
Or it can be a how question. How will Captain America stop Hydra because you know he will.
How will the people in those 50 Shades books hook up now because you know they will.
Those essential plot questions keep us reading and going because humans like answers. We like winners and losers and to know things in definite ways. That’s why sports are so popular. Almost always, one team loses or one person wins.
But back to stories.
When you are writing, not only do you have the big plot, you oftten have subplots and their questions, which are like the baby engines that keep the story edging forward. They are like back-up generators, I guess. I’m not the best with mechanical allusions, honestly. Sorry!
In each subplot, there has to be something important at stake. If you have a book, divided by two narrators of equal importance, they each need to have a question that happens in their story and a stake.
So, a good thing to do is to look at your story that you’re working on and ask yourself:
Is there a big question going on right here?
Is the answer super obvious?
If the answer is super obvious, will the how of what happens be a wee bit less super obvious?
If you have subplots, do those have questions, too?
Good luck writing, writers!
And if you think about your life, does it have those big wonders? Are you moving towards the things that motivate you? Do you already hold them in your hands? Do they shine through everything you do? You’re the hero of your own story so make sure that you’re going towards those big wonders, too.
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