Let's start with your idea, since that's where all books begin. Use the following reflective question to deepen your understanding of that idea, and where it could lead.
1. Write out your story idea in one sentence.
2. What is the inherent conflict? (without a conflict, or obstacles to the protagonist's goal, there is no story)
3. What is original about your story idea? (How is it alike and different from similar stories? What makes it uniquely your story - your twist, your slant on this idea)
4. What is its gut-level emotional appeal? (Why should the reader care? What are the stakes? If the protagonist fails, what will it cost him/her? What will it cost others?)
5. What is the universal theme within your idea? (A story tells a specific tale in order to illustrate a universal concept. What is that concept, that relates to all of us?)
Donald Maas said: "A story is about grace being offered, through love, sacrifice, etc. Who is offering it to whom? Is it rejected or accepted?"
6. What is the grace, or opportunity for grace/redemption that is being offered in your story?
7. Who in your story is offering it? To whom? And why?
Another way of expressing your story idea is through a What if? question: "What if ...(your protagonist) ...in... (specific situation) ...had... (specific problem)?"
For example: "What if (a teenage boy) (returned home from university to learn) (his healthy father had mysteriously died, allowing his uncle to marry his mother and steal his inheritance)?" (Hamlet)
8. Write down your story idea as a What if question.
If you feel like sharing anything about today's exercise, please leave a comment. We can all learn from each other. See you tomorrow!