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July 29, 2011


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Interesting! I was just thinking about something similar to a pattern of setbacks and growth points and how it keeps the story interesting. But getting the pattern STARTED is the hard part for me. In the very beginning, how much sitting on the couch can the character do before the car crashes through the living room is the question! LOL

Recently I read a story that started out ordinary with the heroine arriving to house sit for her boss. A few pages later, she realizes she's walked into a burglary in progress. A big setback! Then I start to wonder if the author agonized at all that the story started too slow. Did she think, heck, I better have my opening line be something like, 'Tess knew something was wrong the minute she pushed open the unlocked door.' Hmm, maybe, but she knew what she was doing to start out with the heroine's normal life and personality before everything turned upside down. It wasn't done with any obvious foreshadowing, unless you count that feeling something must be going to happen soon because...well, something must happen. LOL

So, largely because I usually have similar questions for my own beginnings, and because I’m deep in “student mode” (as in not writing) I wind up analyzing and overlaying all the possibilities of how I would do it. Then I like it just the way she did it. :)

Donna Cummings

Melissa, excellent question! I think it's a good idea to analyze that ratio of couch-sitting vs. car-crashing, but I typically do that AFTER the story is done.

And I bet you're right about the "ordinary" setup for the story you read. Sometimes you need those kinds of details, or the surprise will lose its impact -- it wouldn't be as shocking if the regular part of someone's life wasn't shown.

I think it's good to analyze that kind of stuff, in other stories (I do it all the time too!), and in our own. I'm always happy to see that I've intuitively done what I wanted to accomplish, when I go back and analyze these things during revisions. :)

Hope school is going well for you. It's always good to see you here!


Donna, yes, I think for the surprise to work, there needs to be that contrast, which takes a lot of patience. LOL And so does holding off on revisions. Or is that will power? :)

I have a three week break before fall semester. I've been devouring books (romances of course!) before some evil genie turns them into texts on pre-calculus, hydrology, genetics, economics and ecology. Whew. LOL

Donna Cummings

Patience, will power, or perhaps. . .avoidance? LOL

I'm glad you have a three-week break. You definitely deserve it. And it's awesome that you get to read romances after all the tough topics you've tackled for school! I feel like I need to read some more romances just from reading the subjects you've taken. :)

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