Monday, August 1, 2011

Three Little Words. Paeans to the romantic in us writers. Ah, yes.
Goal, Motivation, Conflict.

Actually, romance, suspense, mystery, paranormal--no matter what we write, those three little words live at the heart of our work. Best-selling author Shannon K. Butcher put them at the top of her outline on Plotting Romantic Suspense when she spoke at the Ozarks Romance Authors conference, Saturday, July 23. But as she pointed out, many of the same steps in planning apply no matter what the genre.

Developing characters, a writer must establish goal and internal conflict and be able to answer key questions. Why are the hero and heroine perfect for each other? Why do they love each other?

The external conflict must be established. Who drives it? Is the resolution satisfactory?

Butcher dealt with GMC--along with other elements such as pacing, tension, the dark moment, story resolution. She broke them down into what might be described as the journalistic questions--who, what, when, where, why, how--listing the detailed questions as she moved through each section.

One of her points could be applied to every part of the story. Balance. Writers must find the balance in every area, from pacing to sexual tension.

Butcher also touched on secondary characters and subplots. Secondary characters can help create the world we're building and can provide tension relief.

Subplots should enhance the main plot but should be used sparingly and only as necessary.

Before we even begin writing, however, she urged writers to examine the internal conflict, the one we began with. Is it strong enough to carry the story through the the end?

What I took away from her presentation was this: The development may be driven by genre, but every story must employ goal(s) that is (are) strong, worthwhile; motivation that is compelling but reasonable for the characters and the world we're building; internal and external conflict that drive the story and the characters until the black moment, after which the hero/heroine will experience a resolution (and a mystery solved?) For those of us who write romance, that resolution is a HEA.


Now all that remains is to figure out how to do it.

The next guest on Writers' Wednesday has certainly done so. Be sure to stop by and meet Ashlynn MacNamara later this week.

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