Okay, so this blog chain is actually a wee bit FUBAR because of me this time around. Heh. Oops! I apologize that this chain is a little loopified.
This time around, Christine chose the topic:
How do you create a wonderfully dramatic story? Are there any questions you ask yourself, or specific things you keep in mind to ensure that you have the level of tension necessary to propell the story forward?
One question that never fails me is "What is the worst thing that could possibly happen?" Usually we ask this to reassure ourselves that we're okay, but when I ask it, my characters cringe inside my head. They know I'm gunning for them.
The question is really "What's the worst thing that could possibly happen to my characters right now?" followed by "and will it work?"
Sometimes you can't do the worst thing. You can't kill everyone off in the first chapter, for example, because then your story would be very short. And boring. And sort of pointless. However, you can put the characters into an impossible situation where they might be killed at any moment! The conflict in your story rises automatically.
Show no mercy. Life isn't merciful after all. But I also can't forget that I'm trying to tell a good story which means it has to be satisfying. "Satisfying" can mean different things to different people, but nothing can be senseless or without purpose in your story. Every bad or crazy thing must happen for a reason. Even unpleasant or cliffhanger endings were purposefully crafted.
So, in summary I suppose I ask myself three things while writing:
1) What's the worst thing that could happen?
2) Does it work?
3) Is it satisfying or purposeful?
Also, if you're in a jam, I've heard people swear that all you need to do when you're stuck is shoot a character. It doesn't work for me, but it might for you! :) Let the bodies hit the floor, and have fun.
So, what say you? How do you create drama in your stories?
Please check out Amanda before me, and Sandra tomorrow!