by Patty Kiyono
I've been working on my current work-in-progress for about three months now. I assumed I'd have it done by the end of July, because the outline of the story came together rather quickly. But July came and went, and the story wasn't finished. The scenes were there, and the characters did what they were supposed to do, but it didn't seem finished.
I went back to some notes from a workshop taught by Debra Dixon on Goal, Motivation, and Conflict (GMC). I took another look at the story and specified the goals and beefed up the conflict. That added more words to the manuscript, but I still didn't like the story well enough to send it anywhere.
I finally took a break from the story. I thought, maybe it's not meant to be. Perhaps I need to step back and work on something else. I do have several other projects I can work on.
And then in the middle of the night, it hit me.
Last spring, I flew to Los Angeles for spring break. I visited my cousin, went sight-seeing with my daughter, and had a lovely lunch with a fellow author. We talked about how we put our stories together. I mentioned that I usually begin with a central conflict. My friend's response was: Readers have to care about that conflict.
Ahh. That's why I didn't like my story! My character definitely had a problem to overcome, but it wasn't presented in a way that anyone else would sympathize with her. I needed to make her greatest obstacle to happiness be something that the average reader could understand and care about. Only then will her journey be one that people will want to follow.
Ah well. Back to the drawing board. At least I have a better idea where this story is headed…