Monthly Archives: October 2015

Tips to Create Emotional Connection with Your Readers

A  guest post by Linda Craig

Take a moment to think about the best book you have ever read. Why were you so hooked on it? You couldn’t leave it for days… you sympathized with every emotion the main characters went through. You laughed, cried, and suffered with them. That’s what distinguishes a brilliant author from a mediocre one – that author builds an emotional connection with the readers.

Don’t you want to achieve the same influence over your readers? You want to hypnotize them and make them beg for more. There are certain aspects you can pay attention to.

  1. Develop strong characters

You may think of great situations and dialogues, but if the characters are not well-developed, you won’t leave a powerful impression. Let’s take Guillaume Musso as an example. He is a popular novelist, who mainly attracts people that want a quick read. Yes, he has some intriguing ideas, but do you remember his characters a year after reading the book? Hardly. They are sympathetic, but they don’t make you emotional.

Let’s learn from this example: your characters have to be empathetic. The reader needs to understand them. Real life can be your greatest inspiration. Dostoevsky, for example, got inspired by suicides and criminal cases. He analyzed the background and the reasons that brought people to such act. As a result, you can understand why the characters in his books did what they did. Nabokov was another masterful writer, who somehow managed to evoke compassion for a person we would usually judge.

A sympathetic character, on the other hand, is someone we like, but we don’t get emotionally involved with. For example, Pablo from Hesse’s Steppenwolf is a sympathetic character, but Harry Haller and Hermine engage the reader on a deeper level. The conclusion is: you need both types of characters in your story.

  1. The story is important too!

You developed really powerful characters with burdening emotional background? You need to put them in an unusual situation that will hook the reader. Clearly, you understand the importance of the plot. The last thing you would like to do is describe people’s family history and leave the reader disappointed when he realizes that nothing important happens in your book.

When you arrange the characters in a particular situation, make sure their reactions are adequate to the personalities you developed. Make the reader wonder: “What made her choose x over y? Did she make the right choice?” When the readers start asking questions, you’ll have them hooked.

  1. Make it real

Let’s take Guillaume Musso as an example again. In The Girl on Paper, he brings a character from a writer’s novels to life. In the moment when she appears naked in his house and you realize that she is an imaginary personality, you realize: “okay, this is a book that won’t teach me a valuable lesson.” In fact, you can learn something from it: you should always, always make your characters realistic, even when you are writing a fantasy novel!

Even when people want to escape their daily lives, they still thrive off of reality. We want to recognize pieces of ourselves in the literature we read. When we can imagine a certain character as a part of our lives, he/she starts evoking rage, joy, happiness and despair. Do you remember Andrei Bolkonsky from War and Peace? Enough said.

You Found Your Calling? Now Discover the Purpose!

The real purpose of a writer is to make readers feel. You want to make them angry, ecstatic, disappointed and hopeful with a single book. You want them to reconsider their values and get out of the comfort zone. A reader can achieve catharsis if he develops an emotional connection with the characters and plot you serve.

Linda Craig has a master’s degree in literature. She is currently working at assignment writing service Assignmentmasters as a freelance blogger.

*****

Larry is currently away on an anniversary vacation with his wife.  Until then Storyfix.com will feature several much appreciated guest posts, and a couple of surprise pre-scheduled visits by Larry, as well.

Larry’s new writing book, “Story Fix: Transform Your Novel From Broken To Brilliant,” has just been released and is available on all online venues, as well as most bookstores.  If they don’t have it in stock yet, ask them to reserve a copy for you.

Story Fix cover jpeg

4 Comments

Filed under Guest Bloggers

How to Plan Your Story in Six Weeks

A guest post by Jennifer Blanchard

When I first learned about story structure and story planning, I was inspired to no end. I knew I’d found the missing link, the information I was lacking that would now help me write stories worth publishing.

The idea of planning a story before you write it is total genius (ignore this advice at your own risk), and the principles of storytelling are a true guidance system for any serious writer.

The problem is, all these principles and story planning information is very high-level. And despite knowing what I had to do, I still wasn’t able to take the information and apply it to my own stories.

I needed a process. A timeline. Something more action-oriented.

For planners, like me, who want a process or timeframe for doing the story planning, I offer up the following:

The 6-Week Story Planning and Development Process

This is the process I use for developing and planning my stories (and the one I teach to all my clients). I created this process based on the information I’ve learned from StoryFix.com and Larry’s bestselling writing book, Story Engineering.

Week 1: Idea, Concept and Premise

This is the foundational week. Get this wrong and the rest of the weeks will have nothing concrete to stand on.

You need to take the story idea you have and turn it into a Concept and Premise.

What’s Conceptual about the story you want to tell? And what Premise will you introduce in context to that Concept?

If you’re having trouble figuring out your Concept and Premise—or if you’re still not totally clear on what a Concept and Premise are—be sure to listen to this 90-minute recording from the live call I did with Larry recently.

You have to get this right, before you move on to the next week. (And Larry even has a great little Quick Hit Concept Analysis you can sign up for, just to make sure you’ve nailed it.)

Week 2: Characters

Next you’ll want to work on your characters, but most importantly, your Protagonist and Antagonist. (Larry has a great character questionnaire in his book, Story Engineering.)

You’ll need to create the three dimensions of both of these major characters, and design your Protagonist’s character arc.

The reason this is important is because you have to know who your Protagonist is, how he will change from beginning to end, and what he wants in the story. You’ll also need an answer for who or what (the Antagonist) will oppose the Protagonist getting what he wants.

This information will help inform your structure and scene choices.

It’s also during this week that you’ll want to solidify your Premise. Now that you know your Protagonist and Antagonist better, you can weave them into your core story.

Weeks 3 and 4: Story Structure

You’ll want to give yourself at least two weeks for story structure, because the first time you attempt it on your story, you probably won’t hit the mark. So you’ll need the second week to tweak it and make changes.

Your story structure is the core of your novel and is the thread that will guide the reader through from beginning to end.

You can learn more about story structure by reading this series of posts:

Once you know your story’s structure, then, and only then, can you can go deeper.

Weeks 5 and 6: Scene Building and Story Roadmap

The final phase in the process is figuring out your story scenes and then building a scene roadmap. And like all the steps before it, you add layers as you go. That’s why two weeks are, again, dedicated to this part of the process.

During the first of the two weeks (aka: week 5), you’ll want to develop a beat sheet. A beat sheet is simply a list of scenes in your story, starting with one sentence for each scene, and growing from there.

Once you have a beat sheet, then you can turn those single sentences into a story roadmap.  A story roadmap is simply an expansion of the beat sheet that goes deeper on each scene to include things like, the mission of the scene, when it takes place, where it takes place and any notes on story exposition or information that needs to be included in the scene. (You can see a sample story roadmap by going here.)

When you’re finished with your story roadmap, I highly recommend taking a break from it for at least a few weeks, so you can come back with fresh eyes and give it a final revision, before you jump into the writing phase.

What does your story planning and development process like?

*****

About the Author: Jennifer Blanchard is the author of the novel, SoundCheck, and a Story Coach who helps serious emerging novelists save time, be more effective storytellers and cut years off their learning curves, so they can write kick-ass books and get published faster. Grab her free eGuide— Find Your Story: the 6-Week Story Planning Process to see an example of the process in action.

*****

Larry is currently away on an anniversary vacation with his wife.  Until then Storyfix.com will feature several much appreciated guest posts, and a couple of surprise pre-scheduled visits by Larry, as well.

Larry’s new writing book, “Story Fix: Transform Your Novel From Broken To Brilliant,” has just been released and is available on all online venues, as well as most bookstores.  If they don’t have it in stock yet, ask them to reserve a copy for you.

Story Fix cover jpeg

11 Comments

Filed under Guest Bloggers