SwiftPotato wrote:Checking in: sent my second story for the quarter to a respectable market.
That's funny that our Keeper of Records has to check in, but it's true: Posting to our group makes us accountable, and Leah is in it with the rest of you.
I'm watching for the next one of you to make a sale. Hopefully to Writers of the Future, but if not, to another respectable market!
Keep doing the flash KYD exercises. Aside from writing fresh stories and writing daily, I can't think of an exercise that's going to increase your skill set faster. You aren't just trying to slap down 500,000 to one million words as fast as you can. You are working on writing smarter with every story you create.
One thing I discovered last night. The Seven Point Plot everyone teaches has a flaw! It only teaches external story arc, the plot itself. The seven points neglect the most important thing in a story: What is my protagonist's heart's desire?
Nothing is more important, because it's Why. We. Care.
If a story fails to tell us what the protagonist desires, we fail to see their inner motivation, and it's those inner motivations that make us hope for them, cry for them, hold our breath for them as they seek the thing most desired.
To fix the problem, some teachers will draw up two diagrams. 1. External story arc. 2. Internal story arc. They have alternate names for these as well, but these are the common ones. All this says is that the 7 Point Plot diagram is missing something--otherwise, why draw up an additional reference? It's missing the most important aspect every story must have to be truly satisfying, to be a winning story that people remember. The heart's desire of your protagonist.
It really should be the 8 Point Plot. A story should open with 1. A character 2. In a setting 3. With their heart's desire 4. With a problem (often the inciting incident that's keeping them from obtaining their heart's desire). 5. They must try. 6. They must fail (and things get worse) 7. Trials must come to a Climax 8. Denouement/Resolution. See? Eight, not seven.
This is why we read many stories that don't grab our hearts, that don't make us care about the protagonist. The story is technically correct, all 7 points, but has no heart. It's missing the emotional element, and that's wrapped up inside the protagonist, and the writer must show us what motivates their protagonist to go on the quest. The writer must give us a reason to care.
Why do I have you write 1000 word flash stories, cut them down to 500, and stop? So that you can look inside your tale and find the beating heart. This should be the thing your protagonist most desires (whether or not it's really good for them), and the rest of your story should focus on their attempt to attain that desired thing. Your 250s, if done right, are vignettes all about that beating heart, that thing most desired by your protagonist. Go back to my example in the Kill Your Darlings exercise section, "Last Words." Study why that story is strong. You will find it opens with the great need of the protagonist of the story to get the approval of his father--the thing most desired. Powerful internal need drives the story. Everything is focused on the "beating emotional heart" and whether or not he will get the thing desired.
Now ask yourself: Do I state in the opening of my story what my protagonist's heart's desire is? It may change as the story unfolds, but do you have a statement of desire, of what they long for that motivates their very being? If you fail to do this, your story will fail to reach its fullest potential. Because you are missing the most important element...of the EIGHT point plot.
Before you sub your Q2, go see if your first two pages reveal what your protagonist's heart's desire is. Is the rest of your story focused on this? Do they get what they desired by the end? Do they come to realize what they desired may not have been the proper desire? Do they get the thing desired, but it destroys them? All of these things make for very real, and very human, stories. They make us reflect on our own motivations and choices we have made. Strong internal story arcs make the strongest stories.
And strong stories win.
All the beast!