Navigation menu

Saturday, July 24, 2010

The WOW Story—Where Should a Writer Start?

The WOW story, novel, blog or article takes preparation in the form of research, investigation and on-hands knowledge. Writing is hard work but writing that very special bit of prose is excruciating. The writer needs to draw deep within and string words together perfectly in order to come up with the WOW story.

An excerpt from Donald Maass' book WRITING THE BREAKOUT NOVEL tells us: "A truly big book is a perfect blend of inspired premise, larger-than-life characters, high-stakes story, deeply felt themes, vivid setting and much more."  Big equals popularity and success.  

Where should a writer start?

1.     Answer the question why does this story, novel, blog or article need written. 
·        To persuade
·        To inform
·        To explain
·        To entertain
·        To Share

2.     Answer the question what style to use.
·        Witty
·        Bold
·        Serious
·        Warm
·        Business
·        Combination of one or more

3.     Answer the question where will this be read or in what context.
·        Online
·        Snuggled in bed
·        Book Club
·        In a doctor's office

4.     Answer the question who will read the material.
·        Man, woman or child
·        Age bracket
·        Specific target group
·        Public

5.     Answer the question when will this story, novel, blog or article go public.
·        Right away
·        Time sensitive
·        Relative forever

6.     Answer the question how to add interest, fun, joy or deep emotion.  Try these exercises:

Describe a room so messy that the occupant has disappeared into the mess. What’s cluttering the room in detail and tell about the room’s owner and how he or she got into this predicament. Tell what happens to the room’s occupant over time. Does he or she ever get out?

Chose a color, go for a walk and then write about everything you see on the walk that is that color, or everything that reminds you of that color. This is a great early morning exercise for the body and mind.

When writing the WOW story start with the above questions and then add more layers. 

It is said, "Write what you love." I say, "Write what you love to research." Research is a key element in writing. Even if the subject is familiar, research will reveal different aspects or facets to add to the prose.  

Donald Maass, Writing the Breakout Novel
Cher'ley Grogg, quote, "Write what you love to research."
Exercises adapted from Edu Guide
Girl Reading Photo by Anna Theodora
Frog Photo by Doug 8888 *
Yellow Toadstool photo by Cher'ley Grogg


  1. mary ann hanson6:18 AM

    You are doin a really good job at this. It makes you wonder what could be, when you are strolling around the things you see that there could be a story behind everything if you just set your mind to it.

  2. Cher'ley, this reminds me of a card I have over my computer that reads: WHAT do you want to say? HOW do you want to say it?

    Seems so simple, but dang, it's hard to write brilliant stuff! :-) Thanks for the research reminder!

  3. So true Mary. I took the photo of that giant toadstool at Tom's house and I paused for a minute to consider yard fairies living under it.

    Cathy, research is not my favorite part of writing, but once I've set my mind to it, I have fun with it.

  4. Carol9:26 AM

    Cherley, you are doing a wonderful job. You have a good talent in wrighting, You really know how to bring out the stories in the things you notice. Love you

  5. Thanks Carol. I'm glad you liked the blog and thank you so much for reading it. I see stories everywhere, but I don't have the time to write about all of them. I try to notice colors and relate them to different things. Del and I used to play this game a lot, we'd pick out a color and notice everything that was that color and then we'd thank God for whatever it was. Like-thank you for the yellow bird that singing so sweetly. It was fun.


We love to hear from readers! Please leave a comment. :)