Saturday, September 20, 2014

Nine Exercises #5: A Lump in the Throat

Welcome to the fifth installment of Nine Exercises to Help You Draft a New Story.

Exercise #5: A Lump in the Throat

Time: 10 minutes

Stop thinking about plot for a second.

Answering today's question requires you to be willing to let go of the entire plot you just created. Most likely you won't have to; but unless you're willing to, the magic won't work. (If you do have to let it go, it won't take long to sketch another.)

Robert Frost said, "A poem . . . begins as a lump in the throat, a sense of wrong, a homesickness, a lovesickness. It is a reaching-out toward expression; an effort to find fulfillment."

You could say this of stories, too.

What is the "lump in the throat" for your main character?

This is where your story will begin emotionally, and it's the emotional engine that will drive the entire thing. Capturing this is more important than finding a "good" ending, more important than anything to do with the plot.

So why did I not ask you this before you came up with the plot? You weren't ready. Now you've begun the work of really thinking your way into the character and the story; now you're ready.

Take ten minutes to answer the question: What is the "lump in the throat" for your main character?

Next: A Draft: Act I

Rafael de Penagos, cover for El Judio Errante, 1912 via 50watts

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