So there’s a quick and easy way to figure out who you are and who you want to be, but also figure out what your book is and what it wants to be.
It’s called the high concept. It’s the dramatic question. It’s the way you describe in a quick captivating phrase all the energy inside your novel.
You can also do this for your life:
Like mine would be: Latchkey kid overwhelmed by family secrets sets out to find out who she is in a world that really couldn’t give a crap.
Sorry! Sorry! That’s so negative.
How about: Stuck in small-town New Hampshire, a weird psychic kid manages to survive thanks to her intellect until a rapist gives her a disease that attacks her brain. She survives anyways.
There are sort of standard questions for every genre of story and movies. Will they fall in love? Will the killer be caught? Will our hero survive the zombie gerbils? Will the events of our youth make us into fractured adults?
Don’t be shy about what your story is about. Will ET make it home? Will the Skywalkers go to the dark side – all of them? Will the Avengers defeat Thanos? Will Hugh Grant fall in love with someone in a fulfilling way? Even ghost ‘reality’ shows on tv have a dramatic question – Will they catch evidence – real evidence of the ghosts? Will they get possessed? Will they survive the night in the haunted castle?
An awesome dramatic question isn’t enough to make something a bestseller, but it’s an important start. Go get one. For your life and your story.
Next add in the obstacles. What’s making it complicated for ET to get home? For the ghost hunters to find evidence? Add those obstacles up so that we doubt that dramatic question is going to have a good answer.
Finally, make sure that your hero is someone with some damn strong convictions. ET knows he has to get home, right? Scarlett O’Hara is positive she has to marry that Ashley guy. Harry Potter/Iron Man/Captain America/Black Widow must defeat Voldemort/Thanos/Whatever Big Bad you want to insert.
That character’s super strong convictions are what makes us root for them. We feel that conviction. The stakes resonate.
Writing Tip of the Pod:
Make a dramatic question.
Make your character have convictions.
Dog Tip For Life
Make a dramatic question.
Realize you have obstacles.
Make yourself have the convictions to bash through those obstacles.
The music we’ve clipped and shortened in this podcast is awesome and is made available through the Creative Commons License. Here’s a link to that and the artist’s website. Who is this artist and what is this song? It’s “Night Owl” by Broke For Free.
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IN THE WOODS – READ AN EXCERPT, ORDER NOW!
My new book, IN THE WOODS, is out!
It’s with Steve Wedel. It’s scary and one of Publisher’s Weekly’s Buzz Books for Summer 2019. There’s an excerpt of it there and everything! But even cooler (for me) they’ve deemed it buzz worthy! Buzz worthy seems like an awesome thing to be deemed!
Order this bad boy, which might make it have a sequel. The sequel would be amazing. Believe me, I know. It features caves and monsters and love. Because doesn’t every story?
Buy limited-edition prints and learn more about my art here on my site.
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