Monday, June 23, 2014

The Two-step

Here is a fantabulous two-step method for writing a great novel —

Step 1: Pick an awesome protagonist.

Step 2: Get him or her into and out of a whole heap of trouble.

Step 3: There is no step 3 — it’s a two-step process. The end.

Anyway, the real life and times of Thomas Edison works as a great example of this formula.

First off, Tom is born a really sickly kid.

Bad news, huh?

Not really. His mom, who has already been through the hellish untimely deaths of three of her children, decides to homeschool the little guy. She builds him a science lab in their basement.

All of those infections in the age before antibiotics makes little Tom very hard of hearing.

Terrible, huh?

Not really, according to the man himself. He often credited his deafness for his ability to think and work for long hours without distraction.

As a teen, Tom works for the railroad. He builds a lab in an old boxcar, which works out just fine until he spills some chemicals and torches the place. He is fired.


No, YAY! Because he is fired from his old job, Tom is dumped off at the next train station. There he saves the station master’s 2-year-old son from being squashed by a freight train. The station master is so grateful, that he teaches Tom how to work a telegraph so that he’ll always be gainfully employed.

Tom works as a telegraph operator, but being scientifically minded he just can’t help himself  he decides to perfect the system. Tom develops the quadruplex telegraph and offers it to Western Union. He’s thinking that he would love to get $2000 for it, but when they ask him how much he wants, he can’t seem to form the words.

Uh oh.

Okay, I know you’re on to this little game by now, so it won’t surprise you to learn that Western Union offered him $40,000 on the spot... And those are 1869 dollars.

After Tom puts his eyeballs back into their sockets, he uses the cash to build his dream lab. Now I could say that the rest is history, but that would be horribly cliché, and you’re thinking it anyway, so I’ll just stop.

PROMPT: Try the two-step on your novel today. No dance moves required. And always, always, always remember this while you’re putting those words to the page…

Our greatest weakness lies in giving up. The most certain way to succeed is always to try just one more time.
~Thomas A. Edison