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Writing Tips


Welcome my Friend and Thank You for joining our Class!

This old One Room Schoolhouse in Roaring Falls serves as our only currently available Classroom.  Due to its small size, we frequently hold classes outdoors under the spreading Chestnut tree, or seated along the edge of the old Stone Bridge.

The classes held here are devoted solely to helpful Writing Tips, and other goodies not directly associated with the Roaring Falls Series.  On occasion I may expound on certain facets of Roaring Falls in examples, as part of a lesson or two.

Because this page could grow quite large over time, rather than having it look like a jumbled up slow loading Blog.  For your, and our mobile visitors convenience, we have divided each Topic and Sub-Topic, placing them on separate Schoolhouse Bookshelves.

Maximize Interest In Your Story

As writers, we often ask ourselves; “How do I turn a bland scene into an interesting one?” or “What will add spice to a boring but necessary event in my story?”

We often encounter the second question, when a specific scene must take place; because the action is integral to our plot and required to complete the throughline.

The obvious answer, which is of little help too many of us; is to create a serious or difficult problem for the protagonist to overcome.  We shrug our shoulders and say, “Yeah, I understand that much, but how do I achieve that goal?”

Providing an example problem.  Then showing the steps taken to arrive at a solution.  Provide a better understanding of how to think through difficult situations in your novel.

In our first rough draft, we insert a problem the protagonist must face.  However, during a reread, we realize the resolution presented for the situation is ho hum dull, boring almost to tears.  Try another approach.

Have no fear, such problems are easy to resolve.  Simply remove all expected possibilities, then commit to a probable solution.  The easiest way to do this; is begin making a list of all fixed facts regarding the scene.  From this list we can think of the most likely possibilities.  Then negate each one, as being to simple, or not exciting enough.

What are we doing here?  For each escape route developed, we make a statement blocking that conclusion.  I do this, by creating a list of “What if's.”  Then treat it like a logic puzzle.  Solve for the unknown element.

For our example, we will place the protagonist in a precarious situation.  Then remove every possibility the reader may think of, to prevent making a guess of what may happen.  Our goal, to surprise the reader.  On how the predicament takes place, or the resolution unfolds.

Before I begin; included at the end of this tutorial, for your perusal; is a copy of the horrible first draft for this section.  Example development takes place within a single paragraph, extracted from near the end of this chapter.

The following unedited text contains two paragraphs, quoted from the original work.  First, an outline the story is built from, the last line of which is the topic for this tutorial.  The second, is the focal paragraph from the first rough draft.

Our goal:  To render a more appealing and interesting story, as a replacement for the above paragraph.

One way to spice up this novel; develop a serious situation the protagonist must face, and build a whole new ending for this scene.  To do this, we will create a problem, then remove each logical solution.  Then come up with a final resolution, which keeps the reader turning those pages to find out what happens next.

Our first step:  Create The Problem.      Return To Top

Although there are many possibilities to create a unique situation for the protagonist.  The one I chose for presentation here, will suffice as a good example.  It presents a secondary problem, searching for the ideal scene to make the action work properly.

I often make things hard on myself, by removing most of the probable solutions.  However, by doing so, an interesting story can develop.

Let's create the problem then remove these resolutions by creating a “What if” table.

Here we insert the problem.  A fully operational new sports car is unusable by the boy for three full days.  Why?

Now, we will create possible problems and promptly negate the resolutions, by showing why.
In example number one, the problem, no insurance, is resolved by the response.

Now for the challenge:      Return To Top

A reader may come up with any one of the above as the possible reason.
Now let's add an amazing reason why the boy cannot drive the car.

What circumstances can you come up with, that meet all the above criteria?
I came up with a few, but we need to visualize the proper setting first.

Rather than skipping forward to the selected scene.  You may benefit from seeing how I arrived at the solution to the logic puzzle.

For my visual, my first thoughts were to use an area, similar in scope to the old Gaslight Square in St. Louis.
Gaslight Square, became known for its many Go-Go Clubs, lining both sides of the strip, in a bygone era.
Unfortunately, I could not come up with a feasible surprise element for this setting to work properly.

Next, I turned to a downtown loft section, similar to Laclede's Landing, also in St. Louis.
Laclede's Landing has many modernized restaurants and night clubs, and in an industrialized area.
At first, this scene appeared to work. So I began rewriting the story, including several necessary details.
Although I came up with a better location, I thought you might like to view this snippet of my first draft.

After giving this some thought, the time factor was too short.  It would not take three days to dismantle and remove the fallen, empty structure, nor was the scene colorful enough.  I needed something a little more upscale and modern to fit with the rest of the book.

The concept met the necessary criteria for my “What Ifs.”  So I began searching for a modern, élite scene, for this accident to take place.  What ultra-modern restaurant or nightclub area contains industrial storage towers?  I really liked the toppled tower concept.  And I needed a location where he and his friends would often hang out?

Based on my last comment alone, you probably figured out an appropriate scene, long before I did!

After choosing an ideal scene, I did not have to alter the rough draft too much, merely change the location and the events that followed.

I selected a posh shopping center for the setting; with a large productive Micro-Brewery Night Club for the actual scene.  The micro-brewery owned two shiny stainless steel grain towers.  One leg of a tower was hit by an SUV, which caused the grain tower to topple over on its top.  The cylinder burst.  Spilled grain covered the parking lot and blocked the cars.

In this scenario, before the accident; his friends can view his car from their table.  They looked through the windows of the club and made comments about the car, before knowing to whom it belonged.  They did not know Jerry was back in town yet, nor did they see him park there earlier.
Jerry joins them at the table and engages in the conversation about the fancy new, bright red, 1985 Ferrari 288 GTO in the parking lot.  They all look around the nightclub, trying to figure out who the car belongs to.  Jerry admits it is his car and offers to take them each for a ride.
Then the accident with the SUV and grain tower takes place.
Several cars are parked up against a terrace wall, with the spilled grain higher than some of their bumpers.  The spilled grain must be removed by hand using shovels; which could easily take three days for the clean up, and removal of the fallen grain tower.

The above closing description will suffice in showing how we develop reader appeal, to a former bland paragraph.  The throughline, dialog, show don't tell details, and actions, are added to the story during later revision processes.

Thank you for visiting!

Original First Draft:      Return To Top

Below is the single paragraph outline for the chapter.  Following the outline, is the original first rough draft.

From this first simple outline, the story segment grew to include eleven paragraphs.  The following text is from the first rough draft before beginning the revision process.

The throughline originally continued for four more paragraphs, with Jerry bringing riders up and down the main drag until closing.  Showing off and having a good time, bragging about his new car.  These were cut due to the new last paragraphs.
The scene changed to a Sunday picnic without his father present, and became the start of the next chapter.

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Document Revision Date 12/11/2019 Applicable To This Page Only