Wednesday, February 10, 2010

The Relevant Push

What is a relevant push? Before I answer, think back to the lesson “Through the Lens of Your Protagonist.” We talked about what your protagonist focuses on within a scene and how vital it is, not only in directing your reader to what is important, but also to what is relevant to your protagonist. Your entire book is seen through the lens of your protagonist. Now let’s turn our attention to relevance and how it pushes your protagonist. What is relevant to him/her?

Remember that even the filler in your story needs to reflect the tone of your book and what your protagonist will notice. You should also note that there is a relevant push that has to do with the protagonist's immediate situation and where you need your story to go.

So think of it this way…

1) A relevant push should show a change in the protagonist’s outer situation.
2) Not only is the push affecting the protagonist’s outer world but also his inner battle.
3) This inner battle he/she struggles with will guide your protagonist to act in a way that will take your story down the path you want it to go.

Easy peasy, right?

Let’s look at the park scene we used a couple of weeks ago.

Small town USA, stores frame a park in the center of town and at the head of the park is the courthouse with a clock tower. In the park children are playing on a swing set, a woman walks by pushing a stroller, two men are sitting on a park bench, and a dog chases a stick a young boy has tossed.

We’ll see this through the lens of a man in his late thirties, who has just broken up with his girlfriend, and he realizes he may never have a family of his own. On his lunch break he goes to the park. He sees the kids on the swing, the boy with the dog and the woman with the stroller. Without thinking he stops the woman with the stroller and gazes down on a beautiful sleeping baby. As he chats with the woman, he notices her beautiful dark, chocolate-colored eyes, her easygoing nature and her low, sexy voice. He finds out she is the baby’s nanny. The clock on the courthouse tower bongs. She immediately excuses herself saying she has an appointment and leaves. He has no way of getting in touch with her, so in the hopes of meeting her again he comes to the park every day at the same time.

What was the relevant push for the man to speak with the woman with the stroller? What changed in the protagonist’s outer situation? His girlfriend broke up with him. Not only does he not have the comfort of his girlfriend (she's not physically there), but he is now alone not only in his outer world, but in his inner world (no one to love). Because of his yearning for a relationship and children his inner battle pushes him to speak with the woman who has the stroller.

For a romance, once he learns the woman is the baby’s nanny and that she is very appealing to him…you have the beginning of a relationship. BUT that relationship is threatened when she abruptly leaves (nothing like a good hook). Now he returns to the park everyday in hopes of running into her again.

The relevant push drives your story in the direction you need it to go, in this case towards a romance.

See, it’s not so hard. As you write a scene always think about what is relevant to your protagonist and what will push him/her to walk down the path you need your story to go.

Next week we’re going to discuss the “push” itself.

Happy writing!

8 comments:

  1. I really like it. Where did you get your theme?

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  2. Tyler, I'm glad you like it. The template for my blog was designed by Templatemo and converted to blogger by BloggerThemes.Net. Go to the end of my blog and I believe there's a link to their site. Thanks for stopping by. :)

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  3. Love the new look!

    Great post. I've loved the series about these. They're awesome!

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  4. Thanks, L.T. I'm so glad you're enjoying the writing tips. I'll keep them coming. ;)

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  5. I really like the new layout! Good find.

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