Sunday, May 27, 2018

How To Write A Novel Readers Love - The Worlds Part 2

Dear friend,

In the first part of this letter, we saw how the protagonist, Sandra Porter in the novel From Bad Girl To Worse goes from being alone to having fun with her group of newfound friends.  

The protagonist in your story must also experience a drastic life change seemingly for the better, just as Sandra has.

All too soon, the protagonist finds out all of these great things come at a cost. And she has no choice but to pay an outrageous price for all the fun she had in the Fun And Games beat sequence. The Bad Guys Close In and All Is Lost beats make her pay dearly for her folly. 

Then, things get even worse.

By the time the All Is Lost beat drops, the protagonist is a lot worse off than when she started in the Thesis world. She’s bankrupt, kidnapped or in jail—or maybe all three. And there seems to be no way out of her precarious predicament.

Her only saving grace is that in the Antithesis world, the protagonist learns some valuable worldly lessons. Lessons she'll need to apply in order to finish the story with all of her vital organs intact, and her dignity in one piece.

In my young adult novel From Bad Girl To Worse, Sandra holds on for dear life as she takes one wild ride after another on the journey through her Antithesis world. She makes new friends and joins a criminal gang against her better judgment. She smashes windows in an abandoned warehouse and vandalizes a brand new model home in an upscale subdivision. She develops a love-hate relationship with her quirky best friend. She kisses her new boyfriend.

Then, the stakes are raised. Sandra takes part in a brutal murder of her teacher. She witnesses her worst fear becoming a cruel reality. Her teacher ends up getting killed, despite the fact that she didn’t want it to happen. And the leader of her misfit gang forces her into a vow of silence about the crime.

Talk about a topsy-turvy version of the Thesis world she left behind just a short time ago. At this point, she’d gladly give anything to go back to her stasis=death existence and never leave it again. Sadly, Sandra wants the one thing that nobody ever gets—the chance to return to the way things were.

But this is a good thing for her. Why? Because struggling with drastic change is the one critical thing that will force her to confront her longstanding misbelief, and overcome it once and for all. She'll become a better person as a result.

Just as in real life, the protagonist can never go backward in a story—emotionally or otherwise. She can only go forward.

When it seems that things couldn’t possibly get any worse, Sandra is faced with a difficult decision, arguably the most difficult decision of her entire life. Should she go to the police and turn her friends—and herself—in? Or should she do what her maniacal leader says and keep her mouth shut?

While she struggles with this decision, she loses her best friend to a tragic death. Now that’s two bodies that have turned up in Sandra’s life. She wakes up and smells the spilled blood. She realizes what she must do. She needs to make things right. Sandra has no choice but to go to the police. 

Justice demands to be served, and in short order. The guilt she feels is tearing her apart inside. She needs to clear her conscience, even if it means spending the rest of her life in prison.

This is where Sandra enters the Synthesis world. She doesn’t want to be alone, yet she finds out the hard way that the gang of criminals she’d been hanging out with really weren’t her friends at all. They never were.

Facing the ugly truths of what she’d done, and what she must do, are the things that will save her emotionally.

Sandra spent the last few weeks doing things others persuaded or coerced her to do. And doing those things just about destroyed her. But, she still has some dignity left. She knows that the next decision she makes will either make her, or break her completely.

By the Break Into Three beat of the Synthesis world, Sandra makes the brave decision to go to police and tell them everything. With apprehension, she walks in and tells them she has information about a murder. Detectives detain and interrogate her, then confine her to a nasty jail cell.

In the Final Image beat, despite how bad things appear on the surface, something wonderful happens inside of Sandra. She has an epiphany. She recognizes that she did something right even though her longstanding misbelief led her to believe she couldn’t do anything right.

Sandra smiles, savoring the fact that she did the right thing by confessing. She helped secure justice for two people who died needlessly. In light of her courageous act, she was able to tell her father, in her heart of course, that he had her all wrong. She could do something right. In fact, she could do something great.

Though Sandra is physically imprisoned, she enjoys freedom of heart and mind that she’s never known before. In her Synthesis world, she’s happier than she’s ever been.

I realize that this was a long, drawn out example of how the Thesis, Antithesis and Synthesis worlds work in a story. But I felt it was important to show you in detail how they ultimately force your heroine to make her necessary internal transformation.

The bottom line is, your protagonist must change.  And your reader must experience that change, as if she were going through it herself. The only way the reader can do that is by seeing clearly the evolution of change taking place in your protagonist’s life.

Incorporating the worlds of Thesis, Antithesis and Synthesis into your story will turn it into a novel readers will love.

Happy writing,

L. R. Farren
Author of From Bad Girl To Worse
and The Dangerous Way Home

P. S. – It’s not the world around the protagonist that changes throughout the story. It’s the protagonist who changes, seeing the world she lives in differently with new eyes. That’s what really matters. 

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