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The Story Arc
Last year, one of my short stories appeared in Stupefying Stories and soon after they asked me to be a first reader of their submissions. As I gained valuable insight from this experience, I began to recognize common problems in the stories I read. When I commented on the most common one, lack of a story arc, to the editor, Bruce Bethke, he suggested I write a post about it for their blog. So this week, I'm guest blogging about story arcs for Stupefying Stories.
In my last post, Character Development: the Johari Window , I introduced the Johari Window as a tool for developing your characters. It's important that your character not know everything about their situation. These unknowns can lead to an intriguing story and create possibilities for conflict within the story. How do you use the Johari Window? In this post, I thought I'd provide a simple example of the Johari Window with a character most people know: Harry Potter. Below, I have filled out the Johari Window as it might appear within the first few pages of book 1, Harry Potter and The Sorceror's Stone . The Johari Window based on Harry Potter and The Sorceror's Stone Three of the quadrants in this window reveal what Harry doesn't know about who he truly is and what happened to his parents. I could add a lot to the quadrants representing what he doesn't know, but I hope this gives you an idea on how a Johari Window might be used. What do you d
When you write about character's of different races, how do you describe their skin tone? If you've never thought about this, then consider this question: How do the authors you read described persons of color? A few months ago, I attended a webinar about writing diverse characters. The guest was Eliana West of Writers for Diversity . The information she shared felt fresh and valuable, especially related to describing a character's skin tone. I get really tired of seeing African-descended characters described in terms of the goods that drove, and still drive the slave trade--coffee, chocolate, brown sugar. There's some weird psychosocial baggage attached to that. -- N. K. Jemisin As this quote from author, N. K . Jemisin , indicates, historically, writers have described people of color using food-related descriptors. Many people of color find this offensive. This surprised me, at first, but she has a point, especially when you view it through the quote above. My fir
One of the mistakes writers make is to create a character who is a lot like the writer...or who the writer wishes he was. When I'm reading a book, I can tell the character is the better version of the writer. You know, the writer with all of the great looks and skills the writer wishes he has. I have one word for this: Boring! What do you know about your protagonist? You have freedom to create anyone you want as your protagonist. It can be a lot of fun to create a character who is completely different than you. Whatever you do when creating your character, you need to know more about the character than the character knows about herself. Which is one reason why creating a fictional "you" as the protagonist gets boring. You have to get outside the character to create a full personality. At a recent conference, the workshop on character, taught by John Kessel , got me thinking about some of the tools I use in corporate training. This suggestion--know more abou