Fiction That Wows: Write “Outside the Box”
Here we go again with one of those strange authorish terms that sometimes needs clarification, especially for beginning writers.
Writing “outside the box” simply means creating characters and plots that are different from the norm. The characters are unique; yet your reader will identify or sympathize with them and will want to jump right into your story. Your plots will keep the reader on the edge of his seat, and he’ll not want to put your book down.
So, how do you as a clever writer manage this state of affairs? And how is your story different from the thousands of other manuscripts that are submitted to editors every year?
Mary loves John; Mary loses John; Mary gets John back. (Yawn)
Let’s look at some samples of ho-hum characters and potential boring plots. As an exercise, I’d like you to change the characters and the storyline so that your reader would want to find out more and keep turning the page. If you wish, please e-mail your suggestions to me. If they’re clever, I might post them in my next blog:
• Mary is 29 years old w/ brown hair and dull hazel eyes. She’s 50 pounds overweight.
• She lives in Philly in a rented brownstone.
• She works at a near-by Wal-Mart within walking distance.
• She’s always had a dream to go to Hawaii. So far she’s saved $298.16 toward her trip.
• John is sixteen. He is an average student at the local public high school.
• He’s waited for years and years to get his driver’s license.
• He has five brothers and sisters, so his parents don’t have the money to get him his own car, so he decides to steal one after he gets his license.
• His best friend, Bob, talks John out of stealing the car and convinces him to get a job at mini-mart to buy his car instead.
I have one word to describe these characters and storylines: BORING! Please help these poor souls get out of their pathetic, humdrum boxes!
And just for fun, check out these short scenarios. Work on them to make them come alive!
• A family with three kids is shipwrecked on an island but manages to row ashore in a raft to a nearby port.
• A little girl in her backyard finds a rabbit hole and a nest of baby bunnies.
• A ten-year-old boy wants a dog badly. He saves for six months and buys a golden retriever puppy.
In fact, if you’re up on your kiddie lit, you should be able to name three very famous books and/or movies that got all these characters and storylines “out of the box.”
Next time, we’ll discuss the importance of writing an “outline” before starting the manuscript.