August 21, 2015

Story Development: 3 Ways Opposites Can Help

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A story's development can take many turns before the final work falls into place.  At the Writing in Place conference last month, my instructor, Lydia Netzer, spent a great deal of time helping us develop the story prior to writing it.

Her first lesson was to allow randomness in our creation.

On the second day, she talked to us about the parts of the story:
  • Characters
  • Scenes
  • Ideas/Reversals

In regards to characters, she suggested we consider opposites for the character.  Death vs life, truth vs lies, comfortable vs uncomfortable, etc.  For example, if your character is comfortable in a certain environment, place them somewhere that will unsettle them.

In our discussion on scenes, we explored the question what if.  If you're character would follow a certain direction, what if they acted out of character and did something different?  For example, instead of saying no to something, what if she said yes?

The concept of ideas and reversals takes the "what if" approach a little further looking at the entire story with an eye to reversal.  In the novel I'm working on, my protagonist, as heir to the throne, is sent to an allied kingdom for her protection during difficult times. She's coming from a wilder, more savanna-like land where the government is tribal and matriarchal to a mountainous land where everything is crowded together, the walls close her in, and the government is formal and patriarchal.

This part of the workshop helped me evaluate my writing projects.  In many ways, it confirmed my decisions on my current work, and it gave me new ideas for existing and new projects.

In your story development, how have you used the concepts of opposites, what if, and reversals?

2 comments:

Thomas Veach said...

But if everyone else is writing with these methods, can it not be a more intriguing story to write that the reader believes they know exactly what to expect.
I do look forward to your work.

Barbara V. Evers said...

Anything is possible, but many readers prefer a bit of surprise. After all, you need conflict to create a great story. Thanks for the feedback ?Thomas.