30 May 2007

Finding the Story

All memoirists incorporate true events in their stories. Often, writers of fiction do the same thing.

Using true events can lead to a richness of authentic details and emotional revelation. However, just because something meaningful and life-changing happened to you does in no way guarantee that the events will be meaningful to your audience. And, of course, the true events must contribute to the overall story plot, or these authentic details will end up weighing down the story.

The events themselves must build in conflict, tension, and suspense and provide some sort of thematic signficance in the end.

A recent plot consultation revealed a tragic story of loss the writer lived through. This is not unusual. Most of us have had one or more traumatic events. Writing about it helps bring meaning and closure. However, the one event is not always enough to wrap an entire novel around.

As we proceeded in the consultation, it became clear that the writer needed more to hang the story on than this one event.

Story is all about the protagonist undergoing a journey and becoming transformed in the process. The journey itself must be built on exciting dramatic action in order to please and entertain your audience.

The aftermat that ensues after a trauma and what is lost and what is gained can provide this excitment. If not, a secondary plot line may be needed to create more page-turnablilty to the project and show the overall character transformation.