You live in the real world.
In the real world we don't always have the chance to ensure the happy ending so many of us like, but we do have our own unique experiences. Those experiences begin in childhood, roll through young adulthood and right on into our lives as card-carrying adults with all the responsibilities that go along with it.
But where does all this fit into a story matrix? And since I write romance and women's fiction, I'm going to stick to those primarily, but you'll see how anything can be put in new context.
Let's start with today's news stories from my local paper:
Oh, wait, the first story is too gruesome.... (Ruthy refuses to write or talk about alligator attack stories)
Okay, still looking at articles.... aha! Here's one:
A. Hotel for indigent people is closed by town council
Okay, this is doable. There are so many ways to look at this. Let's make a list:
1. "Homeless shelter" angle
2. Real estate buyouts
3. City politician trying to make a difference
4. Bad cop muscling locals for graft money
5. Local minister fights for the rights of the poor
6. Kindhearted fire marshal sees danger in old, decaying building
That block of Old East Main is currently under consideration as the eastern border of the newly proposed high-rise apartment building featuring lofts for downtown young executives. So we can take our hero or heroine as the developer, the Realtor, the homeless shelter manager, a good cop trying to clean up the force and investigating the bad cop, a minister fighting for the rights of the downtrodden or the fire marshal who sees the dangers inherent in the old building and can't stand by and let people die.
So from the above brainstorming list, we can use any or all of those ideas to deepen and flesh out the story. Or just one and go in a very different direction. Then, based on what you do there, you need a hero or heroine who is standing in the way of progress, not because they're jerks but because they need to stand their ground. Their job could be on the line, they could be paying back a kindness done to them, they could be truly invested in the city's economic growth or they could be the secret daughter of one of the homeless people. SECRETS ARE A VERY GOOD WAY TO DEEPEN THE PLOT!
Okay, this one could be so much fun... Let's brainstorm a list:
1.Organizer is the heroine.
2.Organizer is heroine's mother, a real do-gooder down-home type person.
3.Heroine is busy executive.
4. Heroine had the best of everything, can't see the magic of hand-me-down gowns but is pressed to help by what?
5. Hero is cop? Sheriff? Teacher?
6. Schools with poverty populations are often under-performing. Does this open a new door for heroine?
Maybe heroine has to help because she's assigned community service. Picture a small town and she crossed up the judge by being hoity toity! (oh what fun that would be to write, think Doc Hollywood or Cars only with prom dresses!) Hero lost daughter in tragic crash, donated her gowns. He'd have to be a 40ish hero to do this timeline.... but that's okay, we love all heroes! School is under-performing and heroine is in town to change things? Or was already in town (lives there) but was assigned by state to go into school and write a report? And offers her old gowns to the cause? Hero works at school? Hero is town sheriff and trying to help disadvantaged youth and heroine sees more than she bargained for and realizes it's not a black-and-white situation. Or hero's never been married and it was his niece that perished in a crash and broke up his older brother's marriage, leaving you a wide open door for book two.
Depending on setting a story like this throws open the doors for diversity. A huge plus.
Keep Fairy Godmothers as your voices of wisdom as hero and heroine bump heads.
Now it's your turn. Throw an idea out there and let's see if we can come up with back-and-forth brainstorming ideas to layer it in. When folks tell me they don't know how to deepen a story, I realize they're looking too broadly... narrow the focus, get to the nitty gritty, either the dirty laundry or small town bigotry or nepotism or racial divides or grudge-holding. We are all sinners enough that looking to deepen a story is as simple as letting people be people. They'll do it all for you, I promise!
And while you're jotting something down for today's back-and-forth, I've got fresh coffee and tea, homemade lemonade, sprigs of mint, lumps of sugar and homemade l-o-v-e cookies, shortbread cookies with a spritz of rosemary in the dough... rosemary is the herb of love!
And speaking of love.... I love that Welcome to Wishing Bridge is on sale for Kindle for $1.99!!!!! Such a beautiful story of three women who reunite when one sends out a cry for help... and how God's perfect timing puts them all in the right place at the right time. Oh, that God! :)
Stop in, toss in a comment and I'll tuck your name into the farm hat (it's farm season in WNY!) for a copy of this absolutely beautiful award-winning book "The First Gift".
A story of one child... one teacher... and the men who love them both.
Kerry McHenry is nobody’s fool. She sees her own tough upbringing in Cassie’s dire situation, so she works tirelessly to guide the young girl, trying to help her become everything that God wants her to be. At the same time, she finds herself torn between a commitment-phobic pediatric oncologist from a nearby town and Phillipsburg’s widowed deputy sheriff, a complicated man who is still angry with God. As the stakes grow ever higher and the characters’ lives intersect in unexpected ways, each will face a true test of faith—and come face to face with indisputable evidence of God’s love.