Author Lisa Cron walks you through how to improve story point by including theme, inner issue, and plot to help the reader connect more deeply with the story.
- A mistake many aspiring writers make is that they only focus on the most visible part of the story, the plot. So they tell us a whole bunch of general things that happen, but it doesn't add up to anything. - [Writer] My novel is about a guy who's been genetically engineered to have an amazing memory. he was groomed to become a CIA operative, so he's never had a normal life. Now he's part of an elite group of spies that goes all over the world, but no one's know he's been genetically altered. It goes well until he falls for a woman he's sent to spy on. - Which leaves me wondering, and so, what's the point? on our three essential elements, the theme, the internal issue, and the plot. Let's see if we can help the writer dig deep and improve her summary. What might she be saying about human nature? - [Writer] My novel will show that our ability to genetically engineer humans has outstripped our ability to understand its ethical implications. The underlying theme is that we can't escape our humanity, because to the dismay of the scientists who created him, even a genetically engineered person will ultimately seek meaning and connection. - This theme gives us both a clue and how the world will treat her protagonist. That's why doing your homework before you start writing is so important. Just two sentences can shape the entire story. Now let's turn to the protagonist's internal issue. What's this guy really struggling with? - [Writer] My protagonist is a CIA operative His issue is that because he was created to do crucial top-secret work no ordinary human could do, he doesn't believe he was the right to feel emotions ordinary humans feel, or to question his destiny. - [Instructor] This is a great inner issue because it's something that the plot can then force him causing him great internal conflict and continually compelling him the writer can craft a plot in which far more interesting This gives us a foundation for the story that's infinitely more likely to engage your reader Here's how it looks. - [Writer] My protagonist is a CIA operative who's been genetically engineered to have an amazing memory. He's sent on a top-secret mission to spy on a young foreign woman he's told is working to overthrow the government. he doesn't understand, which causes him to question everything he's been told, ever. He soon begins to suspect that she isn't trying to overthrow his government. She's trying to prove that the CIA is working to undermine hers. Even more startling, he realizes what he's feeling for her just might be love, something his handlers told him he wasn't capable of. Now he must decide whether to finish the job he was engineered to do, or leave his genetics, his training, and his security behind and open the door to something much more messy, confusing, and satisfying, his humanity. one I know I'd be excited to read.
- What is a story?
- Hooking your reader
- Feeling what the protagonist feels
- Being specific
- Creating suspense and conflict
- Writing flashbacks and subplots