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Good News, Bad News

So, after my frozen phase of last week, wheels are starting to turn. The good news is: I’m starting to be able to write the book. The bad news is, lots of things are still eluding me including one of the main characters – one of the love interests. I want him to be a computer geek for various plot-related reasons. But I’m wavering between making him an arrogant, intellectual geek – kind of like Benedict Cumberbatch in Holmes –  or a socially awkward yet bizarrely attractive geek like Jesse Eisenberg in The Social Network. But in these scenarios, it’s hard not to just make him a dick. So should I make him a sweet geek who still keeps all his Star Wars figurines in the packet? That’s a bit of a boner kill … Also, am I clever enough to write a character who’s meant to be a super intellectual maths/computers brainiac? Yes. Yes I am. Maybe.

Meanwhile, here’s something else for NaNoWriMo. It’s Storytelling 101: also known as Good News, Bad News. It’s maybe the oldest/most basic kind of storytelling there is. You see it a lot in thrillers, particularly action things like Indiana Jones. Good news; Indy’s escaped from the Nazis. Bad news; they chase him to the river. Good news; he finds a raft and hops in. Bad news; the raft’s going over a cliff. That kind of thing.

But the interesting thing about GNBN is that it can be applied to almost ANY kind of story. Take Cinderella. Bad news: Cinderella’s mother dies and her stepmother banishes her to the kitchen. Good news: there’s going to be a ball. Bad news: Cinders can’t go. Good news: her Fairy Godmother comes, she gets to go to the ball and dances with the Prince. Bad news: she has to leave at midnight. Good news; she left her slipper! Etc.

This can be a fun party game – no, honestly – but I also find it a good first step in planning out a story and making me think through all the highs and lows of the story. Two things to notice: it’s generally best to start with bad news – or get to it quickly. And also, to build up to your worst bit of Bad News – your character’s lowest point or Darkest Hour – you can have the best news of all, or a few good things happening in succession. Right before you drop them flat on their face.

Have you used Good News, Bad News? Or do you have another way of plotting? Share!

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