I have been writing a new middle grade story for a few weeks. I love the characters and I love where the story has started from- but, after reading the book, SAVE THE CAT, by Blake Snyder (more to come on that after I attend the Save the Cat workshop in March-can’t wait!!) I realized that my story had a major problem, well, actually two major problems.
First problem- I didn’t have a villain. I didn’t know who the bad guy was, and why he was the bad guy in the first place.
Second problem- Why??? Why was the bad guy bad? Why was my hero the one who needed to fix my unknown problem?
OMG-What did I have???
I had gigantic problems. Actually, you can also consider them creative, exciting problems. I get to build a world, create the rules, laws, and where the problem originated so I can figure out how to fix it.
It now seems so obvious, but at the time, I just was writing and enjoying the journey and wasn’t looking ahead. It will come to me. I loved my main character. I knew he’d take me somewhere. But, as the SAVE THE CAT book made crystal clear- I need more. Of course I discovered my story had these problems right before I was about to go to sleep two nights ago. You can just imagine my dreams!
Actually, it was perfect timing because the next morning I was meeting my friend that I’ve known almost all my life, Robyn, at a Panera in between our two houses. She’s also a writer and has written a romance novella called, TAKE ME FOR LONGING, available on Amazon or Barnes and Noble websites under her pen name, Felice Fox.
So, first, I started to plot. On an blank piece of paper I wrote my main characters names and as much as I knew about them. That’s when I realized I didn’t know them well enough! I then wrote the other characters, the details that I did know, and lots of arrows and lines and words until they all met together with the three words:
BAD GUY?? WHY???
The fun began. I started to build a family tree for my hero, then the beginnings of the world they live in, then some simplistic arcs that my characters need to take. Robyn was a great sounding board. Should the bad guy be the uncle? No, it’s always the uncle-just look at Lion King. How about the friend? No-no real reason. Then I looked at the cousin. Yes!! The cousin. You are the bad guy and you have some serious problems buddy!
Some of my whys and wheres and hows were answered. Some weren’t yet. But it was an amazing time trying to piece them all together to make a meaningful, high-staked, fun story that I can’t wait to continue to discover.
Well, I’m off to continue this discovery.
“The voyage of discovery is not in seeking new landscapes but in having new eyes.”
Have a fantastic weekend and enjoy your new discoveries!