Jill Williamson is a chocolate loving, daydreaming, creator of kingdoms. She writes weird books for teens in lots of weird genres like, fantasy (Blood of Kings trilogy), science fiction (Replication), and dystopian (The Safe Lands trilogy). Find Jill on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, or on her author website.
Some of you may have heard me talking about the fabulous Writing Excuses podcast. If you have never listened to them, I suggest you check it out. They are spec fiction authors, but lots of what they talk about applies to all genres. The archives are pure gold. Seriously. Here is a link to their site: http://www.writingexcuses.com/
A while back, I heard one of the podcasters, Mary Robinette Kowal, talk about the rule of "Yes, but" or "No, and." I thought it was very clever. And since I used this rule the other day, I felt like I should share it with all of you, rather than keep Mary's brilliance all to myself.
First, I'd like to plug Mary's book Shades of Milk and Honey. It's a Jane Austenesque fantasy novel. A very fun and quick read. I just bought the second book in the series, and I'm looking forward to seeing where Mary takes her characters next.
Now back to "Yes, but" or "No, and." Here's how it works. You write your scene. Things are building up to some sort of a climax. Then you'll need to transition to the next scene. You can use "Yes, but" or "No, and" to brainstorm what will happen that takes your character into the next scene, and it should be something that ups the conflict/makes things worse. Here are some examples:
-Your character goes on a date with the girl of his dreams. Will it go well?
Yes, but he then learns that she is moving to a new town, or
No, and she tells all her friends how he tripped on his shoelaces and knocked over their table.
-Your character has been kidnapped. He tries to escape. Will he succeed?
Yes, but he gets lost in the city, unfamiliar with his surroundings, or
No, and he is moved into a solitary jail cell.
-Your character apologizes to the girl he likes for something he did wrong. Will she forgive him?
Yes, but then he goes out and kisses someone else and gets caught, or
No, and she tells her big brother what happened and he beats up your character.
-Your character breaks into someone's house with the intent of downloading secret files from a computer to his flash drive. Does he succeed at breaking in?
Yes, but the files aren't on the computer, or
No, and the person who lives there comes home and catches him in the act.
-Your character sneaks into a country club in hopes of hanging out with the girl he likes. Does he succeed?
Yes, but his brother catches him and insists he sneak him in too or he'll tell their parents, or
No, and his best friend starts dating the girl.
The idea of this exercise is to escalate the problem in one way or another. Give it a try and see how it works for you. Share your thoughts in the comments.