The Rifle Approach to Story Writing
No matter the length of your story, as you create it, the characters and setting, keep the RIFLE approach in mind and you'll never go wrong.
Thinking as a reader, consider all those oldies but goodies residing on your keeper shelf or—in my case—shelves. This is why we return to them time and again, like old friends, or that worn, comfortable pair of slippers or that softest blankie. They bring us joy, keep us on the edge of our seat, or make us laugh right from the toes.
R—realistic. If the reader can't make sense of things—either the plot line or the story arc—they'll give up and toss the book against the nearest wall. It doesn't matter if you yourself have climbed each and every step to the top of the Empire State Building, unless the hero or heroine is in grave danger—or about to propose [or accept], the reader won't get it.
I—intriguing. Intrigue is what keeps those pages turning. This doesn't necessarily mean danger or suspense or evil spirits. I'm talking about keeping the reader invested in what happens to the protagonists along the way. Let's go back to Suzy Scout who's climbing the ESB because Tommy Trueheart, erstwhile and much younger brother of Tess, is at the top, holding the biggest, fattest, sparkliest diamond in one hand [and bouquet of fire red tulips in the other]. Suzy knows right down to her tidy whities the sparkly will fit her finger like strawberry jam layers over crunchy peanut butter and those posies will smell of the coming spring. Unfortunately she's beginning to wheeze and if she doesn't get to the top by the time the building closes, she'll end up in a dark stairway and never get the ring. Maybe she's turned down Tom Terrific too many times to count and this is it baby—fish or cut bait.
F—fun. If it's not fun to read [or write] why keep doing it?
L—logical? It might be realistic but is the setting or are the character[s]’ actions logical? Do they make sense? If you were Tommy Trueheart, would you give the lovely Sue one more chance or would you have given up long ago and kicked her to the curb? On the other hand, maybe Suzy saw her mother, Magda the Magnificent, change husbands like most women go through silk panties and our Sue fears she'll break Tom's heart when push comes to shove. Of course the reader knows [because we the author has shown not told throughout the story] that old Magda is an ego-centric witch who can't settle for one man because none will ever totally please her. Clearly she never met Rhett Butler or Walt Longmire, but I digress.
E—entertaining. Have it move, keep those pages turning. By the top floor have the reader gasping and turning blue as Suzy takes her last breath, or feel their their hands freeze as Tommy clutches the tulips to his heart as he waits at the exit door for the love of his life to appear.
And that, dear bloggers, is the RIFLE approach to writing.
Best wishes for a safe and lovely holiday coming up.
Senior Editor, the Wild Rose Press
PSWA, July 2013