Tuesday, September 11, 2018

The Long and Winding Road of Life and Story By Marie Wells Coutu

Marie Wells Coutu
We’ve been traveling quite a bit lately—to help out our kids, watch grandkids, and attend a high school reunion. Because of the somewhat circular routes, backtracking, and sudden turns, I got to thinking about this journey we call life.

What we want is a straight road where we can see our destination and arrive there without incident. What we usually get is a crooked road full of potholes, winding switchbacks, and U-turns. Our writing journeys are often like this, as well. We may start out with the goal of getting an agent, then a publisher, and we envision a steady climb from there. But the reality is that there are ups-and-downs, side trips, and detours.

It occurs to me that our characters need to take similar trips. The plotlines for our stories are rarely straight—and they shouldn’t be, if they’re going to reflect life and keep readers interested. Taking a cue from our recent travels, here are some tips to ramp up your current work-in-progress:

  • If your heroine and hero have had a direct path to romance so far in your story—you know, the meet-cute, they’re forced together, and they’ve fallen in love—you may want to send them on a detour or add a disaster that pulls them apart.
  • As your hero approaches his destination and the road ahead seems smooth, it may be time to throw in some potholes. Make him fight for what he wants or challenge him to find a way around the blockades.
  • If you’ve already included U-turns and potholes, and your story still needs more pizzazz, you can always add a couple of kids. A four-year-old always livens up things, especially if she’s always trying to negotiate. Or a ten-year-old who (thinks he) knows how to do everything can increase the tension for your main character. At least, it always does for me, even as much as I love my grandchildren.
Whatever turns your journey takes, remember that every bump you encounter and every detour can enrich your fiction. Because good fiction always imitates real life.

What favorite complications have you used in your storylines?
About the Author
The Secret Heart by Marie Wells Coutu
Marie Wells Coutu’s newest novel, The Secret Heart, from Write Integrity Press, was named a finalist in both the 2018 National Excellence in Romantic Fiction Awards and the 2018 Royal Palm Literary Awards sponsored by Florida Writers Association. Her debut novel, For Such a Moment, won the Books of Hope Contest. Thirsting for More, the second book in the series was a finalist in the Selah Awards Contest and a semi-finalist in the Royal Palm Literary Awards. An unpublished historical novel set near Golden Pond has been a finalist in five contests.

You can find more about Marie and her novels on her Facebook page (Author Marie Wells Coutu), at her website (MarieWellsCoutu.com), or follow her on Twitter (@mwcoutu) or on Amazon.com.

Marie is a regular contributor to Seriously WriteFor more posts by Marie, click here.

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