Posts Tagged ‘Embellishing on a Simple Storyline’

Embellishing the Simple Storyline

June 21, 2008 1 comment

You want to come up with something unique.  You want to find a subject or topic that will sustain you through the marathon writing process.  And whether you are a first time novelist or written 25 books, you are forever searching for that novel idea that will bubble to the surface and have universal appeal.

Every story has been told.  You know that…think.  How many ways can you write about a romance? 

Boy meets girl.  Boy and girl enjoy each other’s company eventually.  Girl gets annoyed, disappointed, or hates boy.  Boy finds a way to make amends.  Boy and girl get back together on some level.

Here’s what is going to make your romance novel different.  You are going to find two unique individuals.  They are in opposition in thought, ideals, careers.  Pick one that your readers will find interesting and will be able to identify.  Then, throw in some “what ifs.”  What if it were set in NYC?  How would it change if it were in Kansas? Or set in Alaska?  Or in Jakarta? 

What do we have so far?  Two unique individuals engaged in an opposing viewpoin and living in a locale embracing who these two are or completely challenging them.  The venue is like a silent character.  Bring texture to your novel by selecting a venue that will heighten the differences or be symbolic of the conflict betwen them.  For example, did the inclusion (like a jounralist’s sidebar) of a mother bear protecting her young, emphasize the nurturing characteristc in the female protagonist?  Or is the salmon’s run to its spawning place highlight a male protagonist goal? 

These examples are stereotypical of the male and female role.  What if you have the nature image switched?  What if you show the male bear protecting its cub and pair that up with the male protagonist?  How does that subtly change the message?

None of your stories will be originals.  What makes them unique and yours are the elements you choose to craft the storyline.  You also bring your unique viewpoint and personality.  These are the things that mask the underlying storyline and tug at the reader’s emotional heartstrings.  Think of all the possible combinations and permutations that are embedded in the simple storyline.  When there are too many similar combinations, we recognize that and think it was a ripoff of another more familiar story.  So use your unique experience and writing style to make the story yours.

A good story has all its elements intertwined and working to support other story elements.  If you are cognizant of why you choose what you decide to include in your novel, you will increase your storytelling power.  Like a large jigaw puzzle, there are pieces that almost fit and really look like they do fit because they are so close in color and shape. But upon closer examination you can tell they don’t quite fit.  The puzzle pieces are not pressed snugly against each other, a small gap along one curve.  To leave that one piece in the wrong place, will not change the result— a piece or many pieces left over; there will be unanswered story threads.   And therefore, under the critical eye of the reader, your novel won’t rate a “WOW!”  It will solicit an: “Oh.”