Monday, September 21, 2009

Storyteller Tips 3: Story Structure and Plot

Constructing Your Tale
The third blog in my writers’ guidelines for Cliffhanger Books focuses on short story form. If you’re a submitting author, this overview will help you write your paranormal romance manuscript for our upcoming
Paramourtal anthology. Though customized for this genre, these basic tips apply to all fiction writing for us and other publishers as well.

Plotting Points

A concise, well-structured paranormal romance draws the reader in, compelling an emotional investment in the characters’ dilemmas and outcome. You will need to keep the time frame brief for the limited length of a short story. Follow basic structure by including a beginning, conflict, climax or crisis and resolution or turning point.

Introduce the main characters early by starting with dialogue or action instead of description. But have a balance of those three elements throughout your story. Use the first sentence or paragraph to set the mood and hook the reader’s interest.

In a romance, internal conflicts plague both the hero and heroine. The challenge is overcoming real or imagined reasons why neither can be with the other. Each also has an external conflict involving the situation that brought them together. Avoid a convoluted plot where their meeting and interaction seem forced.

The hero and heroine face and triumph over internal conflicts. Add a crisis or climax that makes each willing to give up something for the other. Each experiences some form of character growth to rise above their differences and enjoy a life together.

We may be called Cliffhanger Books, but we want stories that end — not ones that stop unfinished. By the end, readers want to know how the situation or characters changed and/or what obstacles they’ve overcome. Unexpected twists add shock value and depth if believable. But be sure to reveal any secrets and tie up all questions, problems and loose ends for a satisfying conclusion.

Show; Don’t Tell

Reveal everything through the “Show; Don’t Tell” rule of writing. Show the character’s reaction (how she looked or behaved anxiously through fidgeting, pacing, etc.) instead of telling us, “She was anxious.” Rather than summarizing a character’s personality or background, reveal it through thoughts, observations and dialogue. Only include elements and details that are integral to the plot. Show how characters evolve by the end of your story.

What’s Next?

Read part four of my Storyteller Tips blog: Style and Grammar.

Keep checking this blog and the Cliffhanger Books website for more details, selected stories, publication dates and future
anthologies in this and other genres.

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