Monday, January 26, 2009


After writing my last Story Seedlings post, it occurred to me that it could illustrate one of the key things any author has to learn - where to focus or channel his or her story-telling efforts. When you first start writing, it can be like you've just walked into a department store. Everything looks appealing! It's all so shiny and new! And some areas are clearly shinier than others, but maybe, less obvious, are the areas where the real finds are. How's a fledgling author to know where to go?

If you've read any of the Story Seedlings blogs, you'll notice that I approach a story focusing not so much on the "what" (plot) as the "who" and "why." In the latest example, for instance, I don't first wonder about what was in the trunk that John Lee was attempting to steal, but the coachman who was a witness and how he described events. Only later do I wonder what might be in the trunk (a plot point), but even so, I'm also thinking about why John Lee would want to steal it.

This tells you I'm very much a character-oriented story teller.

If your first thoughts about a similar event are to wonder what's in the trunk and how it got in the boot of the coach in the first place, I'd suspect you're a more plot-oriented writer.

As for what might be in the trunk:

If your first notion is that it might be a body or body parts, sounds like you might be a mystery/suspense/thriller writer at heart. If it's money, I'd say suspense and mystery.

If you think it might be something like racy lingerie or erotic literature, or something that could be used to further a sexual relationship, erotica or very sexy romance might be your forte.

If it's some kind of cursed object, or a talisman that invokes a fantasy world, paranormal and/or fantasy would be what you should probably be writing.

Because I'm all about the people and I like to write romance, whatever is in the trunk would be something that would either bring a couple together, if the attempted theft is at the start of the story, or threaten to destroy the relationship, if it happens at the end. If it's in the middle, it can do both -- bring them together but also be something that could lead to trouble later on. But because I write romance, whatever is in the trunk itself isn't as important to me as how it's going to affect that primary relationship.


Amy Ruttan said...

I was thinking why would he want to steal it. Why is the trunk so important to him.

I really hope it wasn't sexy lingerie ... he would be a weird dude if it was. ;)

Margaret Moore said...

But if it belonged to a woman he cared about and it might compromise her reputation.... :-)

Amy Ruttan said...


I guess my mind was in the gutter on thinking he might want it for himself. LOL.

Your idea is much better. LOL.

Amy Ruttan said...

Of course it depends what direction you want the story to be in ... wanting sexy lingerie for himself could prove to be a zany comedy.

Margaret Moore said...

Or he might think it's something like cash or jewels, but it turns out to be sexy lingerie. That could be a hoot. Or it could have serious consequences, too, if he's married or in a serious relationship and she thinks he's having an affair.

Michelle Styles said...

I will admit to think why did he feel the need to take the risk. DId he want to get caught? Why did he have to steal it then? Why not later? What are the consequences for him if he doesn't steal it then? Why does he think he will be believed if he gets caught? Who asked him to steal the trunk?
The whole question of what is in the trunk is much less interesting. Possibly more interesting is what does he think will be in that trunk? And is it actually there or not?

Margaret Moore said...

One trunk, so many possibilities... That's how I know I'm among writers, that's fer sure. :-)