Master Class: Lesson 5

“And then what happened?”

Lesson 5 was about story and plot, about “what happens next?” that most elemental of questions. I’m quite good at plotting – this class is tailored more toward beginning writers – but I did realize that I have a problem I need to address. Essentially, I have a tendency to take the easy way out. I plot the situations that are easiest to resolve.

Let’s say you have two possibilities in mind for what happens next: 1) A man comes into the room with a gun, and 2) A man comes into the room with a baseball bat. If your protagonist is unarmed then it’s much easier to write your way out of the “man with a bat” situation.

So, without thinking about it, in my mind I’m saying, “Well, no, he can’t have a gun because my character is unarmed and doesn’t know karate or anything.” But that’s exactly why it should be the man with the gun who comes through the door. That’s tension, which drives the story, and it requires creative problem solving which keeps people interested.

Realizing this is the case, I’ve set up a story to work on that will involve a constantly shifting problem set. Essentially, my main characters are unable to control where they go after solving a problem in their current situation and the mechanism by which they move to their next situation is random enough that how they solve their current problem doesn’t help them solve their next one.

I don’t think this will become a finished product. It’s more like a workbook to develop the skill of embracing difficult situations and drawing out the tension involved with them.

Still enjoying this class immensely.

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