Isn’t it funny how the right advice comes along just when you need it? Kind of like when you learn a word you’d never heard before, and suddenly you hear it everywhere? There are piles of advice I’ve received over the years as a writer that I could list here. But if I did, I’d be here for days. Instead, how about I share the most recent best advice?
Lately, I’ve been working to make some of my scenes less…predictable. Mostly because I’ve written 27 books now, and I need to keep it fresh for myself. Lol. A friend went to a workshop recently (I wish I remembered more about the workshop. My friend can’t remember either.) and she shared this as the best takeaway.
Here it is: When coming up with a scene/plot point, start listing. Discard the first 5-10 you come up with, because those are obvious and will have been done. See if you can get to 15-25 idea on the list. That range of things will be the meat, the most interesting ideas you could come up with.
I’ve been applying this advice to everything (and have to say that it’s turned into one of my favorite exercises because it’s so fun to do).
Here’s an example. This week, I was trying to come up with a reason my cowboy, in my current WIP (Partnering the Playboy–Book 3 in my Hills of Texas series as my contemporary pen name), would need to do community service. I need a reason that’s actually honorable and endearing. Since the hero is a playboy and has a reputation for running a bit wild, the reason for his doing community service was easy. He got in a public fight. Pretty bad one. But what would make that honorable, particularly to the heroine? This is where that advice comes into play.
My first few ideas included:
- a bet
- hit on by another guy’s girlfriend
- jealous other contender for a girl at a bar
- the other guy hit a woman
- defending the female bartender
- his buddy started the fight (but he ended it)
- someone owes money
- breaking up another fight
- for beating a dog
- for hurting a cat
As you can see, these are all fairly predictable. Of course the hows and whys could make each more interesting. But I kept going.
I don’t want to give away what I eventually settled on, but let’s just say it involves an animal you wouldn’t want to tangle with. I add insult to injury by having his older brother–the county Sheriff–be the one to arrest him, and the heroine be the one to bail him out and come up with the community service that he’s assigned.
Should be fun! Yay for timely, fantastic advice!
I am participating in MFRW’s 52-week blog challenge, and it’s a blog hop! If you want to see how other authors approach this topic, stroll on over to the other authors participating and find out how they deal with character profiles. Each author does it differently.