The Story is in the Reaction

Almost everyone has experienced that unexpected bump in the road that sends her life careening in a new direction. I say “almost”  because I have known people who had enjoyed (so far) an event-less  and predictable life. But it’s a certainty that the only certainty in life is change.

Writers use this knowledge. The story opens with a deadly accident, a disappearance, a diagnosis, a letter revealing a deadly secret — you name it.

This devastating event sets the hero on a new journey. If you you can’t think of an example, simply browse the daily newspaper or watch the evening news.

A woman is abducted. A man is shot while picking up a loaf of bread at a convenience store.

This event is your starting point. But it is not the story.

The story is how your heroine reacts to the news. Did it happen to her or to a loved one? Either way, she must do something beside cry and wring her hands. And there is where your story lies.

I have used a deadly diagnosis, a job loss, a crippling injury, a theft, a forced marriage, and other turning points in my stories.  I imagine how I might handle the situation, and then start to imagine how my heroine would handle it.

The story begins to take shape from there.

What event kick-started your story?  Did it happen to you or someone you know, or did you read or hear about it in the news? Why did that particular event push your creative urges into action?

It all goes back to the “What If?” that all literature hangs on.

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