The plot is what happens to your character. The story is about how your character reacts to the things that happen. It’s simple cause and effect, right? Hold on there. It’s not quite that simple. For the most effective story your forces of antagonism (see this post) and your character’s lies, secrets, and scars (see this post) are interwoven. Easy for me to say. Difficult to do. Until you have the golden ticket. What’s that golden ticket? Because there are lies, secrets, and scars and opposition, there is a unique plot. Writers often worry about a story being “done to death.” It’s easy to believe there are no new stories in the world. One look at all the titles in Amazon can overwhelm you. Let’s rephrase. There are no new story concepts in the world. A story concept is reducing the story to the basics. Concepts include: the revenge plot, the detective story, the space marine story, and so on. There are hundreds if not millions of stories about revenge. That’s the test. If it’s a concept, there are lots of other stories like it. So how is a writer to make his story stand out? You make choices. Your […]
The lies, secrets, and scars of your characters will give your stories power. What makes the story work is that emotion that ties it all together.
When you start writing a story it can be a lot like panning a river for gold. When you put your pan into the river of ideas, you’ll get a lot of pebbles and sand and debris. You have to rock the pan back and forth until only the good stuff remains. Unfortunately, there’s a lot of fools gold found when panning for story ideas. If you don’t know structure your story you may end up with a lot of fools gold instead of a solid story. But wait, you say. I’m a pantser, I don’t plan my story. Whether you’re a pantser or a planner, you can construct a solid gold story. Forces of Antagonism One of the early things I do in constructing a story is to create what Robert McKee calls the Forces of Antagonism. This was a concept I struggled with for a long time. In his book, McKee says the forces of antagonism represent “the sum total of all forces that oppose the character’s will and desire.” Huh? He contends that the more powerful and complex the forces of antagonism are, the more realistic the character becomes. “THE PRINCIPLE OF ANTAGONISM: A protagonist and his […]