Today is World Book Day! On that note, how is that book going?Monday's post challenged everyone to commemorate World Book Day by writing a book. Yes, that sounds like a big endeavor, but taken piece by piece it's far less intimidating. The last post set up the foundation for writing a book - developing the plot structure and the things that are, as they say, visible from 30,000 feet. Now we are going to go in a little closer and see how we want the story to move along. We're still not writing it - that comes later. We are just exploring the steps necessary to make the task of writing as easy as possible.
Now that we have the theme and main character(s) established and we know what the journey is going to be, we need to add some motion to this. Let's ask ourselves - what sets that character's story into motion? First and foremost, is the catalyst for the story external or internal? If this story is about the character's battle against cancer, that one is external - cancer rears its ugly head and the character is forced to confront it. Other stories centered around, say, a journey of discovering one's heritage, may be kicked off by the character finding an old diary or receiving a letter (external) then making the choice to follow up on the information and kick off the mission (internal). As the author, we need to know this ahead of time to better move our character along.
Now, no mission worth writing about is without its issues, so our next step is to ask what makes this mission such a challenge? As they step out and take on this mission, the reader should be thinking, "Wow, how are they going to accomplish this?" If it's a battle against cancer, that story should focus on every obstacle and setback, every tough diagnosis, every source of inspiration that failed to come through. The challenge needs to be very real and very daunting, with attention placed on the difficulties the character faces. With this focus, the character's progress becomes even more engaging, and the reader asks again and again, "How are they going to make it through?"
Of course, the other story - the internally motivated one - should have internal setbacks and resistance. When a character goes on the internally driven mission, the greatest obstacle can be self-doubt. The journey of self-discovery can and should be unsettling, and reminding the reader that this journey threatens everything the character has known or believed can always come from the character's own doubts. Think about any situation in your own life where your beliefs changed underneath your feet, then place that anxiety into the story.
There is no real limit as to how many setbacks one character has to overcome in order to complete their mission, but the writer should have a pre-defined set of roadblocks in mind when they start writing the story. Others may appear organically as the story is created, but a few distinct landmarks are necessary so the author has direction in their story-writing.
And now that you have all of that foundation established and know the direction, the next step is much easier - start writing that book!