An Idea That Grew Into a Story

I met Rob Chilson at a local science fiction group meeting.  He is the soft-spoken author of seven novels and numerous short stories and novellas published in science fiction magazines. Visit his website at www.RobChilson.com to learn a little more about this Oklahoma born author. After one meeting, Rob came to me with an idea for a story.  He thought I would be the perfect collaborator because I was both writer and nurse. It was an idea that grew into a story. The Spark We each read a short article in a science magazine about how when you are sick your ‘sick cells’ changed electrical polarity from the ‘well’ state. Two science fiction authors should not have been surprised that we’d read the same article, but we were. When we talked about this discovery we wondered if someday there might be a box that could read and correct the polarity of cells making illness and disease a thing of the past. Rob wondered how that change would impact society. He thought that perhaps we wouldn’t need doctors and nurses any longer. I argued that we would always need someone with a healing touch.  Then we discussed characters, a basic plot, and […]

From the End to the Beginning

Part 7: Re-visioning Your Story     Why from the End to the Beginning? Many writers spend a significant amount of time crafting the beginning of their story. They know the beginning of a story is critical. If you don’t hook your reader, the story will go unread. But did you realize the ending is just as important?   No amount of convincing characters, intricate or thrilling plot, nor vivid story world construction can overcome a poorly crafted story end. And a failed ending of your story will cause an agent, editor, or reader to put down the book never to pick up another of your stories. But a great ending will reward your reader with an emotional payoff. Hooked, he’ll eagerly seek out more of your stories. So how do you construct a great ending? In revision. First, in order to craft a perfect ending, you must understand the key components of the ending of a story: the crisis, the climax, and the resolution. CRISIS The crisis is the pivotal moment of your story. Your protagonist’s choices and actions have led her to this point where she must make a final, irrevocable choice. “At the point of crisis,” Bob Mayer […]

Is There a Time and Place in Your Story?

Setting: Week 6 of Re-visioning Your Story There’s a time and place for . . . time and place in your story. When and where your story takes place gives the reader a reference point, or as Dwight V. Swain calls it, ” a standard for your reader.” Getting the time and place right is like the difference between Sleeping Beauty’s castle and Windsor castle. When revising your manuscript, you’ll want to be certain to read through at least once while focusing on how you reveal the story’s setting. Perhaps you think you don’t need to because “my story takes place in the real world, in a real city, in a real home/office/park.” Whether your story’s world is based in reality or made-up purely from your imagination, your choice of details revealed and withheld in your manuscript can support or destroy your reader’s suspension of disbelief. (And I’m assuming you want to do everything you can to support your reader in this regard.) Setting is a huge topic. In Thanks, But This Isn’t for Us, Jessica Page Morrell calls setting details “a literary Leatherman.” And she gives a long list of things from politics to technology and everything in between […]