By: Janice Hardy @JaniceHardy
A friend of mine told me a bad joke once:
What's worse than finding a band-aid in your hamburger? The Holocaust.
What's the worst that can happen? is probably the most-recited piece of advice on plotting. It's good advice, and I'm a big fan, but as the joke illustrates, "worst" is very subjective.
Take this scene. Your protagonist is upstairs, and she hears a noise downstairs. She grabs the bat from under her bed and goes to investigate. What happens?
A) She finds a burglar in the living room stealing the silver.
B) A sinkhole has opened up under her house and it's starting to collapse.
C) The sun explodes, killing all life on Earth.
Obviously, "worst" has many outcomes, and not all of them are going to work for your story. My examples are extreme, but we pick the metaphoric C more often than not, because it's "the worst that can happen." We're thinking about how to make the plot bigger and badder, not always what's the best "worst" for the story as a whole. And that can lead to scenes that might be exciting, but our beta readers are giving us feedback like "but it never goes anywhere" or "yeah, it's good, but what's the point?"
Things going wrong are vital to a good plot, but you want to look for things that can go wrong and still move the story forward, and deepen that story while they do it. Connect the "worst" to the story so it keeps the reader interested, and doesn't just give them stuff they have to slog through to get to the next story point (even if that stuff is interesting on its own)
Instead, try asking...
1. What's the worst thing my protagonist thinks might happen in this scene?
. . .
Read the full article HERE!
If you missed my writing & marketing tweets and retweets yesterday, here they are again:
- Fiction University (The Other Side of the Story): Come On, What's the Worst That Can Happen?: Plotting Your Novel http://ow.ly/wpfVr
- Thoughts on Reader Reviews | Elizabeth Spann Craig http://ow.ly/wpfZu
- 15 Places to Promote Your Book for Free - GalleyCat http://ow.ly/wpgi0
- David Farland’s Kick in the Pants—The Storyteller’s Voice http://ow.ly/wphpd
- How to Make a Forbidden Romance Work | Jami Gold, Paranormal Author http://ow.ly/wphtR
- Query Triumphs, Query Disasters with Laurie Schnebly Campbell | Romance University http://ow.ly/wphDx
- Three Questions to Guide Family Historians - BLOG - Stories To Tell Books http://ow.ly/wphMf
- Ebook Marketing Podcast: Self Publishing Tips And Tricks -- Top Five Things You Can Do To Sell More Books http://ow.ly/wphY4