Thursday, June 13, 2013

Syrupy Beginnings, Sagging Middles, and Soggy Endings by Donna B. Snow

Donna B. Snow
What does it take to make a good story great?

Imagine this. Your story is a Ferris wheel. Have you ever ridden on a Ferris wheel? Do you like when it continually goes around and you get to enjoy the sights and the cool breeze – a nice smooth ride? How do you like when it stops and starts and stops and starts? Well, if you’re like me, you don’t want that ride to stop until it’s time for you to get off. This is how the reader wants to be treated. Give them a ride that doesn’t stop, that they will enjoy from the time they get on until it’s done. That takes special attention to how you build your story.

Now a slow start is a great thing if you’re talking about a roller coaster ride…but not a story. If you make your reader feel like they’re slogging through mud, or being jerked up that hill at a torturously slow rate they may never reach the top of the hill where the fun begins.

And don’t forget, everybody is a reviewer these days and they’re ready to tell the world how good or bad your story is. So start with a hook that pulls them in right from the start. Let them get to know your characters. If the reader is invested in your characters then you’re more than halfway there.

So, no syrupy beginnings, but as the story goes on, if it’s starting to sag in the middle then it’s time to grab hold of the reins and guide that story where it has to go, and reorganize as needed. A big part of what sagging middles need is a good hard proofread/edit. This is the time to get out that proverbial red pen (or highlight and delete…but you might want to save these portions in a separate file – just in case) and get rid of all the pointless meandering that’s going on.

So you got lost in the Fun House, well, it’s time to find your way out! This is the time when you have to keep the end zone in sight. You know where this story has to get to and it’s time for you to direct its course. Maybe you’re like me and you write by the seat of your pants and let the story lead you. Well, that’s fine as long as the story isn’t just wandering and weaving all around. So, if the story seems to be going around in circles, redirect it toward the end and keep that in sight. Remember, edit, edit, edit!

Do not write a single pointless scene! No soggy endings here! Think of your words as a path. You know where you’re leading your reader, so make every word count. And when the end is in sight, wrap it up clean and tight and voila! One great story.

Dora here. What about you? Beginning, Middle or End...Which do you find the most challenging?

A Piece of Heaven
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Trina Wembly dreamt of owning a Christian coffee house for years –a Godly place where people could enjoy a good meal, and entertainment that wasn’t offensive. A Piece of Heaven is that dream. 

Jared Larou, the construction foreman who helps design and build the coffee house, is a wounded soul with a soft heart.

Once the coffee house opens, Trina and her partner, Laura, work day and night. From coffee in the morning, to gourmet dinners in the evenings, it’s a heavy load. Plus Trina performs most nights as the entertainer at the coffee house.

Trina longs to be more than just friends with Jared, she just hopes that’s what God wants for her too.

Donna B. Snow is a native New Englander and has lived there all her life except for a year in northern California (which reminded her of home). She loves the change of seasons and the beauty each one brings. and says there is no place else that will ever feel like home. 
She's been married for 20 years and has one teenage daughter who will be going to college next year. An active member in her church, she is a member of the choir (along with her daughter), and she writes not just stories, but her own music as well (that she hopes to get published also).