It can be one of the most intimidating commands for writers, i.e., “Show, don’t tell.” I remember hearing it in grade school, high school, and later, writer’s conferences. But how can you show something through the written word? It’s not like you’re making a video, drawing a picture, or animating cartoons. So where does that leave a writer who wants to capture a reader’s attention through words? It seems like an oxymoron, an impossible, hair-pulling task, right? But there are some strategies and techniques writers can turn to in the face of such madness. Read on to find out more.
What is a Three Act Structure? Is it something that only applies to Shakespearean plays? Actually Shakespearean plays are divided into 5 Acts, but who’s counting? It all sounds intimidating and confusing. But in fact most stories can be divided into three distinct sections. You can see it in picture books, novels, and even films.
Once you know what to look for, you will be able to pick out the three acts of everything you read and watch on TV or in the theaters. Even documentaries will follow this simple structure to help guide viewers and help them to stay engaged.
Red herrings are elements in your story that lead the protagonist in the wrong direction of reaching his or her goals. If you’ve ever read mystery novels like Agatha Christie’s Miss Marple mysteries or Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s Sherlock Holmes mysteries, you know the value of red herrings. They help to add tension and conflict to a story.
Let’s say you want to write for children. It’s something you’ve always wanted to do. But, coming up with a great idea for a story can be daunting. Don’t let writer’s block get you down, though. The first thing you should do is think about the story concept.
Does your story have an MDQ? What’s the MDQ you ask? The BIG QUESTION, i.e., will your character blank? “Will Billy find his bicycle?”, or “Will Janie learn to eat her vegetables?” Basically, “Will my protagonist achieve his or her goal?” The MDQ, aka the Major Dramatic Question is pretty important when writing a story. Without this question there is no story.