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Knowledge of our past is our inheritance. What we do with that knowledge will shape our destinies...

Friday, October 12, 2012

How to Write Awesome Fiction

There are many templates out there for writing good fiction. Most of them are correct, or have at least some degree of correctness to them. It's always good to get new perspectives on things--especially the way you write. If you come across something you never thought of before, and it improves your writing, well that's a win-win situation, right?

I can't take credit for this template, though. The wonderful Leisha Maw taught this at a League of Utah Writer's meeting a year ago. So, here goes.

When you're trying to kick out your plot, each of your characters (the main ones, anyway) should have two major Objects of Desire, or OODs. They should have one tangible OOD and one intangible one. The tangible OOD is what they are actually doing in the story. The intangible one is more of a general statement about the character--what do they want out of life or overall?

As with math problems, this will be made easier by examples. Let's take Frodo Baggins. ('Cause most people are fairly familiar with The Lord of the Rings in one format or another, whether they admit it or not.)

Photo Credit: thechristiannerd.com
What is Frodo's tangible OOD? During the first part of the story, it's to get the ring out of the Shire and meet Gandalf (it's very common for your character's tangible OOD to change as the story progresses). At various times it's to stay ahead of the Ring Wraiths and, you know, keep breathing. Once he attends the Council of Elrond, his tangible OOD is set for the duration of the story: to take the ring to Mordor.  This is Frodo's tangible OOD. It's what his character's actions are centered around; what he's actually doing in the story.

What about his intangible OOD? What does Frodo want out of life? What's his endgame? Now, granted, you can come up with something like 'happiness,' but this is a little vague. It should be more specific to the character and story/world. In Frodo's case, he wants the Shire to have peace, and he wants to grow old there.  So, his tangible OOD is fueled by his intangible one. He's taking the ring to Mordor because he knows if Sauron gets it, there will be no peace in the Shire or anywhere else.

It's a good exercise to go through your favorite books and stories (the ones you KNOW have awesome plots) and try to pinpoint the character's OODs. 

Photo Credit: en.gtwallpaper.com
Harry Potter: What is his tangible OOD? It various from book to book: finding the Sorcerer's Stone, finding the Chamber of Secrets, etc. What is his intangible OOD? It's to defeat Voldemort, right? So that desire, and all that come with it--peace, happiness, saving his friends, etc--fuel his actions throughout the books. If your characters have both OODs, you can't help but have a great story. The intangible OOD speaks to the character; the tangible one to the plot. 

If you feel like your story has any holes in it, try figuring these things out. You'll be amazed how much clarity your manuscript will suddenly have! :D

P.S. I don't know why the HP picture is randomly in French. Didn't realize it until after I pasted! Oh well. I guess great plotting holds true in France, too! :D


  1. Thanks for posting, I will keep that in mind when I write some stories! :)

    1. No problem! Thanks for visiting! I luv ir blog, btw! ;)

  2. What a great post! I love learning new writing techniques. I don't think I've heard of OOD being spelled out in exactly this way before. Thanks.