I don't know how many of you are signed up for the AskAnAuthorPro loop, but they get some really good presenters every now and then. Sylvie Kurtz, a romantic suspense author for Harlequin Intrigue, is presenting a workshop on the seven elements of a story concept. It's really good! And her website has a section on writing tips with a lot more good stuff for writers.
Here are Sylvie's seven elements:
- a main character (person through whose eyes the reader will see the story)
- a flaw (defense mechanism he feels he needs to survive)
- a goal (something concrete and specific hero is working toward)
- an ally (someone who helps hero overcome his flaw)
- an opponent (someone who pushes hero’s emotional buttons)
- a lifechanging event (instigated by opponent—opportunity, challenge or threat; related to flaw)
- an implied journey (where the main character risks losing something important to him either physically or emotionally)
Sylvie says: "A story concept is a tool. It's a one- to three-sentence description of your story. It allows you to see your story in a concentrated form and helps you see if your story is structurally sound before you write. You can also use this tool to help you refocus as you write. And ultimately, it may help you sell your story."
I love this because I'm one of those who likes to have a quick, one-minute elevator speech about my book and this works great for that.
Sylvie goes on to say: "The nice thing about building a concept from these seven elements is that you can start anywhere. If you know only one of the elements, you can use it to figure out the others. Everything you're going to add to the piece you know is going to add conflict. If you're a plotter, you can start with the life-changing event and find the best characters to go with it. If you're someone who lets the characters take you along for the ride, then you can start with the hero or the opponent or the ally and work your way to a fitting plot."
Cool, huh? 8^)
She gives an examply from her July Intrigue, Spirit of a Hunter (The Seekers, Book 5):
A security-driven (flaw) mother (hero), desperately seeks to find her son (goal), kidnapped by her mentally ill ex-husband (life-changing event) before her manipulative father-in-law (opponent) takes him away from her. With the help of the dark and brooding Seeker (ally), who was her ex’s best friend, she faces her fears and finds the courage to battle her father-in-law to reclaim her son. (implied journey).
Based on the 7 elements, can you write up your book's story concept? I'm going to try it later this afternoon. I'm swamped today (what a surprise. Sigh) but I've been wanting to try Sylvie's exercise all week. Come on and entice us with your great concept!