Option C

For some reason, I have “Impulsive” by Wilson Philips in my head this morning. It’s making want to bust out in three-part harmony, which wouldn’t be good for anyone within earshot. Thankfully the only one currently in range is my guinea pig, Millie. 

Sorry Millie. 

However, yesterday I woke up with Limp Bizkit’s “Nookie” in my head, and I’m pretty sure we can all agree that Wilson Philips is a vast improvement, even with my own less-than-faithful interpretation. 

Anyway, I didn’t write this post to discuss my brain’s musical stylings. I wrote this post to discuss…

Option C. 

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What is Option C, you ask?  Option C happens to be some of the most helpful writing advice I’ve ever gotten.  We all know the standard answers to “How do I become an author?”, things like  “Write every day”, “Write what you know”, “Make writing a habit”, etc.  But for me, the one that actually helped me look at the writing itself in a different light was Option C. 

So, every novel is made up of scenarios, conflicts, that need to be resolved. In each scenario, you have the obvious outcomes. I’ll use the example given to me in the workshop:

A trio of thieves roll up to a bank, intending to rob it. Obvious outcomes are:

A) They are successful

or

B) They get caught.

But, there’s another option. Option C. In this case it could be C) They show up at the bank, but it’s a federal holiday and it’s closed. Or, C) They show up at the bank, but there’s an elementary school giving a tour. Or, C) The get-away car breaks down before they even get there, and a cop pulls over to help them. Or another, yet unthought-of option.

All of these options leave the reading thinking Now what?  And that makes for a much more interesting story, for both you and your reader. No one wants to write predictable, boring stories. We’re here to write stories that are unpredictable, fun, shocking, or, should I even dare say…impulsive? 

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Sorry. I just really love that .gif.  

 

If you’re good, you may have already been doing this subconsciously. I know some of my favorite scenes I’ve written all ended with Option C. But now that I’m aware of it, it helps me when I get stuck in a rut, when I’m not sure where a scene is going.

How about you? Had anyone ever told you about Option C? Or were you just so awesome that you’d been doing it naturally?

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