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Writers Tip #62: It’s Not What Happens. It’s Your Character’s Reaction That Matters

06 Jun
writers tips

Great tips for soon-to-be great writers

When you read your story, does it sound off, maybe you can’t quite put your finger on it, but you know you’ve done something wrong? Sometimes–maybe even lots of times–there are simple fixes. These writer’s tips will come at you once a week, giving you plenty of time to go through your story and make the adjustments.

Today’s tip: Worry less about plot and more about character development.

If writers had to depend upon plot to sell a story, we’d all go broke. There is one basic plot. Hero starts out with a tolerable/happy/exciting life. Something happens that throws her/him into crisis. S/he tries to solve it (over and over) and fails each time. When s/he is about to fail for the final time, Eureka! Against all odds, Hero pulls it out and is changed forever from the experience.

Here’s a secret: The story line isn’t what matters; it’s how the Hero reacts to events that makes a blockbuster novel. This is where writers can explore a multitude of plotting options. Does the Hero problem solve with his heart or head? Does s/he do it alone or with help? As a lawyer, doctor, archeologist, teacher, some other unique career? That where the story comes in. As individual each person in the world is, that’s how many variations on a theme there are. What you came up with from the short plot I outlined is likely considerably different from my paleo-historic plot line.

So revel in that. Let your voice be heard. Spin your yarn with abandon. The more unique is your imagination, the more spirited your muse, the more likely you will succeed.

Questions you want answered? Leave a comment and I’ll answer it within the next thirty days.

Jacqui Murray is the editor of a technology curriculum for K-fifth grade and creator of two technology training books for middle school. She is the author of Building a Midshipman, the story of her daughter’s journey from high school to United States Naval Academy midshipman. She is webmaster for five blogs, an Amazon Vine Voice book reviewer, a columnist for Examiner.com, and a weekly contributor to Write Anything and Technology in Education. Currently, she’s working on a techno-thriller that should be ready this summer. Contact Jacqui at her writing office or her tech lab, Ask a Tech Teacher.

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Jacqui Murray is the author of the popular Building a Midshipman, the story of her daughter’s journey from high school to United States Naval Academy, and the thriller, To Hunt a Sub. She is also the author/editor of over a hundred books on integrating tech into education, adjunct professor of technology in education, webmaster for four blogs, an Amazon Vine Voice book reviewer, a columnist for TeachHUB, monthly contributor to Today’s Author and a freelance journalist on tech ed topics. You can find her books at her publisher’s website, Structured Learning. The sequel to To Hunt a Sub, Twenty-four Days, will be out this summer. Jacqui Murray has been teaching K-8 technology for 15 years. She is the editor/author of over a hundred tech ed resources including a K-8 technology curriculum, K-8 keyboard curriculum, K-8 Digital Citizenship curriculum. She is an adjunct professor in tech ed, CSG Master Teacher, webmaster for four blogs, an Amazon Vine Voice book reviewer, Editorial Review Board member for Journal for Computing Teachers, CAEP reviewer, CSTA presentation reviewer, freelance journalist on tech ed topics, and a weekly contributor to TeachHUB. You can find her resources at Structured Learning.


 
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