WHAT IS STORY? CJ Lyons Thrillers with Heart CJLyons.net SIX most
POWERFUL words. Let Me Tell You
A STORY Story is Characters taking ACTION Plot = Time Decisions, Actions, Change over the TIME
of the Plot reveal Truth of Character Plotting 101
Opening Call to action
Turning Point #1 = Decision Midpoint = Everything Changes Turning Point #2 = Retreat Black Moment = Crisis Climax = Change Resolution
3 Secrets: Know Yourself Know Your Reader Know Your Story Know Your Story Whats it about = Core Idea
Premise, pitch, logline, high concept, themeall stem from Core Idea YOUR TURN! OPENING HOOKS CJ Lyons
Thrillers with Heart CJLyons.net 5 second rule Whats your promise to the reader? Reflects Theme What do you want them to feel at the end
of the story? Needs to be in the beginning Microtensioncomes from world building Theme Intersection of Plot and Character What your book is REALLY about
Universal, primal human experience Focus, focus, focus Why do we need it? Turns plots action into DRAMA
Patriot Games PATRIOT GAMES without theme: Opening Hook: Jack foils terrorist plot to kill royals
Turning Point #1: CIA asks Jack back, he says no Midpoint: terrorists try to kill Jack, fail Turning Point #2: Jack asks to return to CIA (reversal) Climax: Jack kills terrorists in shootout
With Theme: Opening Hook: Jack and family in middle of terrorist gunfight, Jack kills young terrorist, saves the royal family subplot: terrorist vows revenge on his dead brother, plots escape Turning Point #1: CIA asks Jack back, he
declines because it's too much time away from his family subplot: terrorist escapes, now includes Jack in plans to kill royals even though 1000 miles away Midpoint: Jack is threatened, wife and
daughter run off road by terrorists, in critical condition, Jack vows to hunt them down subplot: terrorist doesn't care about royals, now totally focused on killing Jack's family Turning Point #2: Jack reverses his decision, rejoins CIA because it's the only way to keep his family safe
Climax: terrorists invade Jack's home, threaten his family and royals, Jack fights back and kills them all What is YOUR Promise to YOUR Readers?
OPENING HOOKS Reflect Theme Promise emotion Create microtension Mirror the ending Open door into NEW world
It was a bright cold day in April, and the clocks were striking thirteen. ~George Orwell, 1984
How to build a Hook: WORLD BUILDING via: Visceral Details Evocative Details Telling Details Visceral details:
revealing the POV character's emotions. Waking up dead would have been preferable to waking up with this screaming throb inside
his skull. ~Debra Webb, NAMELESS Evocative details: Eliciting emotion in your reader.
Something wet and spongy plunked against Bobbie Faye's face and she sprang awake, arms pinwheeling. ~Toni McGee Causey Bobbie Faye's Very (very,
very, very) Bad Day Telling details: Every single detail you choose must do the work of creating an universe for the reader.
The last time Dr. Cassandra Hart entered Pittsburghs Three Rivers Medical Centers ER she was covered in the blood of the man she had killed.
~CJ Lyons SLEIGHT OF HAND Ever since we shot half of the Mineral County sheriff's department, my deputy and I have been
a little shorthanded. ~Evan McNamara FAIR GAME YOUR TURN! STRONG CHARACTERS
CJ Lyons Thrillers with Heart CJLyons.net What is Story? Characters
Taking Action The DREADED BACKSTORY
Look to the PAST: Values = taught at early age Beliefs = learned from world around them via their experiences (right or wrong) Trauma => Add up to Motivation/Default Action/WHY
What do they NEED to LEARN? PAST is
Motivation/WHY Source of Default Action Forms greatest fears Inspires characters inner NEED FUTURE is Outer Goal: what they WANT
Inner Goal: what they NEED PRESENT is HOW they get what they Want/Need Filled with CONFLICT, conflict, conflict Decisions, dilemmas, dire straits
NO conflict = NO story CONFLICT Outer Conflict = Nemesis, what most stands in way of obtaining story Goal
Inner Conflict = greatest FEAR Finding your DEFAULT Childhood trauma Teaches an attitude to protect character Okay if clich : lone wolf cop, Scrooge, Blanche Dubois, etc
Character is Plot Act One = Past/World of Default Working Act Two = Present/Upside Down/Default NOT Working/Conflict Act Three = Future/Goals Won or Lost or Sacrificed/NEW Default Created
SILENCE OF THE LAMBS Outer Goal = WANTs to save girl Inner Goal = NEEDs to SILENCE OF THE LAMBS Outer Goal = WANTs to save girl
Inner Goal = NEEDs to SILENCE THE LAMBS Outer Conflict = Buffalo Bill Inner Conflict/Greatest Fear = being abandoned/helpless to save anyone especially herself
Set up in Act Two but comes true in Act Three Past => Present => Future Childhood Trauma = loss of father/unable to save lambs Leads to DEFAULT of going it alone (if alone
cant be abandoned) UNTIL Act 3 Black Moment when faces FEARS and learns NEW Default Childhood FEAR + Protective DEFAULT
+ Unconscious NEED => ALL intersect at Black Moment Go Primal
Antagonist v. Nemesis Romantic Interest Shapeshifter/Trickster Mentor Sidekicks Red Shirts
Who is your main character? Do they have a Antagonist? Do they have a Nemesis? Do they have a Love Interest? Do they have a Mentor?
Is anyone a Shapeshifter/Trickster? Is there a Sidekick?
Whats your main characters DEFAULT? What past trauma led to it? Whats their greatest FEAR? What do they NEED to learn to overcome this fear/create a new Default? What is their Story Goal/WANT?
Who/what most stands in their way? Bonus: whats your THEME?
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