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When you are writing a novel, there's a few BIG Questions you have to know the answers to. I think Larry Brooks at http://www.storyfix.com/ sums them up pretty well; these are just three from his excellent list. If you find these three questions easy to answer, check out the rest of the list to see if you can answer some of the other questions.
What is the conceptual hook/appeal of your story?
How does your story open? Is there an immediate hook
How is your hero the primary catalyst for the successful resolution of the central problem or issue in this story?
I've been subscribed to Larry's blog many months now, I've learned a ton about story structure and required elements for good story telling. And yet when I tried to answer some of these questions for my WIP (especially the first one!) I really struggled.
Have you ever run into a situation where you think you know what you're doing, because you're fairly well-read (I mean, I've read at least a dozen writing craft books, and I follow good writing craft blogs, and I've learned a ton from giving and receiving critiques) and then...
And then somebody asks you a basic question and you flounder around like a fish out of water?
That just happened to me. Asking myself just a few basic questions about my WIP is making me scratch my head, and I'm surprised, because I've put a lot of planning and outlining and structuring into this novel (I used the Writer's Journey).
I certainly know how to identify the appeal in the books I'm reading, and I can quickly spot the opening hook. So why am I so staggered that these things aren't immediately obvious in my story?
I realize I'm going to have to really put my story up against these questions and see if it can legitimately answer them, or if it needs more development or restructuring. Or just flat brainstorming!
Makes me realize how important Big Questions are, and all the writing craft in the world isn't going to help you unless you can answer them.
Have you ever floundered when someone asked you a Big Question? (this can apply outside of writing, too)
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