I’m happy to note I am pleased I’ve prolonged (procrastinated) this revision process. I believe (hope?) I have a pretty good story with conflict, tension, fully developed characters and a story that moves forward at a good clip. In other words, a page turner.
I mentioned back in September I would be attending the Writer Unboxed Unconference and I did. It was a great week with sessions with Lisa Cron, Don Maass and other writers.
Lisa’s sessions were based on her new book Story Genius, which basically tells writers that the way we’ve been approaching story is wrong. During the workshop, she explained that story is internal, not external. It’s the internal change within the character. And before we can actually start writing our story, we need to know what’s going on with our protagonist and get inside her head. Not one of those surveys with 100 questions, but an incident in her early childhood that shaped her thinking. This is what Lisa calls a misbelief. To figure out what this defining moment or misbelief is, Lisa asks us a number of questions that lead to this crucial crux in the character’s life, and that’s when we start writing. Not prewriting, but full fledged, concrete, specic answers to the questions followed by scenes that build the character’s backstory.
I’m about half way through the book and it took me a long time to figure out Corinne’s misbelief. During the exercise, I came to realize that I didn’t know my protagonist as well as I thought especially after all these years of writing. So it came as a surprise that she yearns for acceptance and respect after being told at a young age that if she follows her grandparent’s footsteps she’ll never have any friends. The next step is to write an origin story of when that misbelief occured. I’ve written four scenes to see how Corinne grows from the age of four and to when she’s 24. The last scene ultimately shatters her confidence.
The writing exercises are tough because you’re being asked to upend the story you’ve written. If you’re married to your current version and reluctant to kill a good chunk of what you’ve written, you might be hesitant to even read the book. However, I recommend that you put aside any reservations and shoulder on. After planting your butt in the chair and completing the writing exercises, you’ll begin to see major shifts in your protagonist and a better story.