"Why do we go on?"
As Gypsy, my ghost cat, lapped from my tumbler of ice tea, I sighed,
"There is no certain promise of success. Often we are mocked by those in our world.
Worse, sometimes we are endured or "forgiven our obsession" by those close to us."
Hemingway looked at me from across the table at Meilori's.
"Backbone," he rumbled.
He downed the remainder of his rum. "Backbone, son. In yourself. In your work. That is the key to surviving this 'obsession' of ours."
He set his glass with a thump on the oak table. "Your backbone is between you and your self-respect. I can't help you there."
He lit a cigar. "But with the backbone of your story or novel ...
The spine of your novel is what you follow on your character’s evolution from what he was to what he becomes. And the change must be big. Why would we follow a bump on a bumpkin’s life?
All good books have one thing in common. They are truer than real life. Why? In good books, anything that doesn’t contribute to the hero’s transformation is edited away.
So find your backbone. What big picture are you painting? Any brushstroke that doesn’t add to that picture, remove.
Ask 5 questions to find your backbone.
1) Who is your hero?
You’d be surprised how many bad novels wobble about in that department, not giving the reader a sure idea of who to root for.
2) What is the problem?
It has to be clear. It has to be primal. And it has to appear insurmountable.
3) How does the story begin and end?
There has to be a “before” and “after” feel to them. The end must be a ringing bell within the heart of the reader.
4) What is the spiritual problem of the hero?
The physical problem must symbolize the spiritual struggle within your hero.
5) What is your novel about?
What is your story’s theme. A young boy learns that true magic lies within. A man discovers lies only make problems; they do not solve them. You get the picture.
What are you waiting for? You want me to lead you to the computer and type the story for you? Writers write. Dreamers dream and die with their dreams."
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