Author Lisa Cron walks you through an example of how to create an inner issue so the reader will connect more deeply and be more engaged with the story.
- The way to pinpoint the specific event that caused the problem or fear that the protagonist must overcome is to relentlessly ask why of everything until you hit pay dirt. Here's how such a conversation between two writers might go. - Thank you for going over my script with me and helping me on this. - Sure. - So it's about a woman named Olive, and she cannot make any relationship work. - Okay, why not? - She sabotages every relationship she gets into.
- Why? - She starts to fall in love with a guy, and then she pushes them away emotionally. - And why is she doing that? - Because she doesn't feel worthy, she doesn't want to be hurt, she doesn't want to be manipulated. - Okay, so is there a specific incident in her past that makes her feel this way now? - I don't know. I guess that's why I'm blocked.
Okay, so when Olive was 13, she had a huge crush on her older brother's best friend, Brad. And would do his homework for him, make him snacks, and one day she came home and she overheard her brother and Brad making fun of her, and she was totally heartbroken, really sad, really devastated. And every relationship after that, she put up walls 'cause she didn't want to be hurt.
- Okay, good, so we know what started it all. The question I have for you is, what's the issue in Olive's life right now that's forcing her to deal with that? - I know the answer to that one. Okay, so she just met the first man who made her feel the same way that Brad does. It totally feels like love now, and this time, she's really desperate to break that pattern. And she's totally terrified.
Like, can she do it? - Bingo, specific fear versus specific desire. What better place for a story to start? And ya know what else? Asking why can be a great antidote to writer's block. You can brainstorm like this with a friend or even by yourself.
- What is a story?
- Hooking your reader
- Feeling what the protagonist feels
- Being specific
- Creating suspense and conflict
- Writing flashbacks and subplots