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The three things you need to write a Great Story

March 20, 2006

Great plot. Great characters. Great sexual tension.

Tell me something I don’t know, is what you’re thinking, right? It’s pretty obvious for any apiring writer who has done their homework to know having those three things in a story is a given. But finding that “great” plot, those “great” characters, and “great” sexual tension is easier said than done.

Before getting into these think about your favorite books, the ones that stay with you, the ones where you can remember the hero and heroines name without having to pick up the cover and look at the blurb. The ones where you can easily recall a few favorites scenes that made you smile, that left you on the edge of your seat, scenes that got you hot and made you melt when they had that first kiss. Chances are those books had all three parts. An original plot, or at the very least a fresh spin on an old plot, or maybe it was just the first time you’d come across this type of plot. Characters that you remembered, who you rooted for, whose pain you felt. And sexual tension that seemed to bring them together as often as the obstacles pushed them apart.

So what’s the part you don’t already know, right?

Lets look at plot.

Components of a great plot. – A fresh or unique idea, actions/obstacles that bring the hero and heroine together and push them apart, a moment when things don’t look like they’re going to work out, often known as the infamous “black moment”, and a great ending.

Components of great characters. – KNOW YOUR CHARACTERS. This is important. Do you need to have pages and pages of background info on your characters to “know” them? Absolutely not. But you do need to know who they are, what they want and why they want it. Why? Conflict. Those great books you were thinking of a minute ago, chances are the characters had problems, issues with themselves, or with other characters, or with their circumstances. Issues keep characters from being boring. But that doesn’t mean that your characters all need to have deep seeded wounds they need to get over. In the right story, an issue of simply being in the wrong place at the wrong time can generate serious conflict for a character. Knowing what your character is thinking at all times, even when you’re not in their pov and having them “react” to their situation is key. The best stories are the ones where little bits are trickled in here and there and not just saved up to have five pages of your heroines narrative insight into the hero following their first encounter. Show what’s she’s thinking during that encounter with a line or two of narrative, physical reactions (body language), her tone of voice. This is where the infamous “showing” comes into play. And that topic requires its own post and as soon as I can pin down a good explanation for it, I’ll do that. lol

Components of great sexual tension. Okay, so we’ve got the plot that puts your heroine and hero in a great story with things happening that are putting them together, tying knots in their carefully laid plans, getting them close and cozy, but never with the idea things are content and permanent, at least not until the end. Your characters are fleshed out and hopefully have some opposite personality traits that make for more conflict. Sexual tension can be hard to write, or it can be easy. Your characters need to be aware of each other, physically, mentally, emotionally. They need to know why they are right for each other and why they would be wrong for each other. They need to react to each other and you need to “show” that. Remember the part about body language, tone of voice. These really come into play with sexual tension. That vibe, that chemistry that draws them closer, makes them hunger for each other. It’s those long hot looks, those slow touches, those moments when you think they’re finally going to kiss, those panted breaths when they’re in each others arms, those quick tumbles they tell themselves mean nothing right before they go back to fighting. Sexual tension is all about their intimacy, their spark, the wanting even when they know they shouldn’t.

Okay, so maybe I haven’t really told you much you haven’t figured out and if you were looking for definite tips on how to achieve these things, you won’t really find any. Okay well maybe I’ve got one. The best way two achieve and develop these skills is this READ and WRITE ALOT! Read those favorite books over and over and write, write, write. Learn from your favorite authors, make their novels your textbooks. But in order to develop your own voice and not just mimic those favorite writers is to keep writing. Write often, the thing that separates those people who get published and those who don’t… often its not always skill or talent, it’s determination. It’s starting a book and finishing it, moving onto the next one and knowing that even in the beginning if your stuff isn’t great, it’s going to get better and better with every story you write.

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