Shannon Dittemore is the author of the Angel Eyes novels. She has an overactive imagination and a passion for truth. Her lifelong journey to combine the two is responsible for a stint at Portland Bible College, performances with local theater companies, and an affinity for mentoring teen writers. Since 2013, Shannon has taught mentoring tracks at a local school where she provides junior high and high school students with an introduction to writing and the publishing industry. For more about Shan, check out her website, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Pinterest.
Given all we've put our poor hobbits through, I think it's time we helped them resolve their problems. Resolving doesn't necessarily mean a happy ending, of course, but we're going to do our level best to at least END the suffering of our dear hobbits at the hands of this particular dilemma.
I promised you all a resolution to our series of hobbit exercises and today we have it. If you're playing catch-up, here's a quick recap.
In Writing Exercise #16, we started where Tolkien started, with the very sentence that slipped into his head and compelled him to sit down and puzzle out a story.
In a hole in the ground, there lived a hobbit.
We used this sentence to create our own hobbits and we decided for ourselves just why our hobbits lived underground.
In Writing Exercise #17, we gave our hobbits a problem. And in Writing Exercise #18, we upped the stakes and made the problem worse.
There are many, many ways we could do this. In fact, the solving of a character's main problem is usually what makes up the largest chunk of any story. Often this problem-solving process can get mired down and I want to remind you of a tool that can help you plan your way out of these struggles. Especially if you're not entirely sure how you want to resolve the situation.
Step 1: Identify your hobbit's problem in a simple sentence.
Example: My hobbit's underground hole is filling with water and her leg is pinned beneath a fallen cupboard.
Step 2: Determine your hobbit's end goal.
Example: My hobbit needs to free her leg and swim to freedom.
Step 3: Identify the first action toward making that happen.
Example: My hobbit wants to find something sharp so she can cut away the hem of her dress that is caught under the cupboard.
Step 4: Ask yourself a yes-or-no question.
Example: Does my hobbit find something sharp?
Step 5: Answer this question with a "yes, but..." or a "no, and..."
Example: Yes, but just as she's about to slice her hem free, a fresh gush of water knocks the knife from her hand and pushes it just out of reach.
Step 6: Determine your hobbit's new want.
Example: My hobbit wants to reach the knife.
Step 7: Ask yourself another yes-or-no question.
Example: Does my hobbit reach the knife?
Step 8: Answer your question with another "yes, but..." or a "no, and..."
Example: No, and the gushing water has forced the cupboard to sink deeper into the mud, pinning my hobbit more fully beneath it.
You get the process here? You're going to continue to determine your hobbit's next immediate want, ask yourself a yes-or-no question, and then answer it with a yes, but or a no, and.
This type of exercise isn't for quick writing. It's for puzzling out where you're going. So, here's how I want you to set it up in the comments section below:
Problem: My hobbit's underground hole is filling with water and her leg is pinned beneath a fallen cupboard.
Goal: My hobbit needs to free her leg and swim to freedom.
Want: My hobbit wants to find something sharp so she can cut away the hem of her dress that is caught under the cupboard.
Question: Does my hobbit find something sharp?
Answer: Yes, but just as she's about to slice her hem free, a fresh gush of water knocks the knife from her hand and pushes it just out of reach.
Want: My hobbit wants to reach the knife.
Question: Does my hobbit reach the knife?
Answer: No, and the gushing water has forced the cupboard to sink deeper into the mud, pinning my hobbit more fully beneath it.
Keep going by listing the next want, question, and answer until you approach some sort of conclusion. When you ask yourself the final yes-or-no question, it is perfectly acceptable to answer it with a simple Yes or No. You don't have to continue to make life miserable for your hobbit. Although, you are welcome to. We do like misery around here.
Leave your hobbit's try/fail cycle in the comments section below and be sure to come back this weekend to read what the other teen writers are posting and encourage them.
REMEMBER! When you participate in our writing exercises you can enter to win an opportunity to ask Jill, Steph and me a question for one of our upcoming writing panels. Once you leave your response to the writing prompt in the comments section, use the Rafflecopter below to enter. Next week, Rafflecopter will select one winner and we'll contact you for your question via email. Happy writing, friends!