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Thursday, August 27, 2009

Uh-Oh! There's a Problem!

Obviously, the woman's heel broke, which would pose significant problems, but what about the things behind the scene--the things we can't see in the picture? Maybe she swore under her breath because it would be the third time she had been late for work in a month, and the boss had already threatened to fire her. Maybe she had just fled from the Irish Pub where her boyfriend had dumped her, and heat rose to her cheeks because she knew he was watching. Or, maybe she was on her way to borrow money from her mother, who never thought she'd amount to anything, and showing up with a broken heel would only validate what her mother thought. Aside from an interesting setting and a unique plot, another way to make our work stand out is to develop strong internal conflicts that the reader can relate to. What most would consider the same old, done-to-death story can shine with the addition of inner turmoil. External conflict is what drives a story along, but it is the internal conflicts that make the reader care about the characters and what happens to them. It's what gives a story heart. What about you? What do you think the story behind the broken heel is?

38 comments:

Wend's Place said...

It could be just a broken heel with no story behind it what so ever!

Yes internal conflict makes for excellent writing. I think the type of 'shoe' writing you do is the hardest because your imagination for a new angle must be working overtime.

Jungle Mom said...

I live in South America, so I think she is being chased down by a mugger. She just left the ATM and was followed by a suspicious looking man. Now alerted to the danger, she is running as fast as her heels allow and cursing that she chose to wear them on that day.

Eileen Astels Watson said...

I have no idea about the broken heel, but I definitely agree that internal conflict is huge in gaining reader empathy and interest. It's severely underrated in some stories, I think!

storyqueen said...

She had purposely broken the heel the night before and taped in back with a few loops of scotch tape in hopes that, when she put her weight on it the right way, it would break again at just the right place.....right in from of that handsome security guard that work in front of the building next to her own.

She'd been trying for three months to work up the courage to say something besides, "Good morning,", to which he always smiled pleasantly and tipped his hat.

Today would be the day. Oh yes, it might be a little awkward, but what was a little bit of hobbling around when balanced against their future together?

She'd need to stumble at just the right moment......

Kristen Torres-Toro @ Write in the Way said...

Hmm... How about a walk of shame? She's already regretting the night before and then the heel breaks. Maybe it's a "final straw" that brings a turning point....

Stephanie Faris said...

Maybe she hated wearing heels and, tired of feeling pressured to always choose looks over comfort, she broke the heel off herself (then the other one) and continued on about her day.

Patti said...

Since I hate wearing heels I agree with Stephanie. Her feet hurt, it was hot and out of frustration she broke it.

Dawn VanderMeer said...

I don't know, but I love your scenarios! I want to read about the girl leaving the pub! And the girl who has to face her mother! Heck, I also want to read about the girl who is late for work! You're good. :)

jbchicoine said...

I think there's alway a story behind the 'broken heel', even if it's only that she's cussing herself for buying cheap shoes. I love inner conflict.

TereLiz said...

I have a feeling that this is the third bad thing to happen to this woman this morning. First the cat got out and she had to find him, making her late for work already, then she closes her dress in the car door without knowing it, and then on the way into the building, she breaks the heel.

And of course, this is the day that her hot European boss is coming to talk to her department about presenting the best image of their company to the public, and she's covered in dirt and cat hair and limping down the hallway.

Or maybe I've been reading too much Sophie Kinsella, lol.

Thanks for another great post!

kavita said...

All her good shoes were stored in her closet for too long hoping one day she will restart her career once her kids have grown up....the time was now,she wore one of her best shoes but the heels broke half way as the glue gave up because of the shoe being stored for too long in humidity inside the closet.BAD STORY....BUT TRUE.

Lazy Writer said...

These are some great stories you guys are coming up with!

Rae said...

Susan,
Please stop by my blog to pick up an award.

Jill Kemerer said...

She's walking into a job interview. She needs this job. The bills are piled up and her husband's been laid off for over a year. Of course, the traffic was a nightmare that morning and she arrived to the interview 20 minutes late. And now, just when she's almost to the door, her heel breaks. Poor thing.

Strange Fiction said...

She's on her way to meet her literary agent for the first time, she's so excited that she breaks into a run... That would be me and I can't think of another reason at the moment that would be worth slipping my feet out of my flip flops and into a pair of torturous high heels. :)

Nancy said...

I love these games. She just had that heel fixed the day before so she would look nice meeting her new inlaws-to-be. Now, she can appear looking messy or postpone the date. Neigher will be good. That's the kind of thing that happens to me at times.

Suzanne said...

These are old shoes. She bought them a long time ago, before she was married. She found them at a second hand store.

They are her "wedding shoes" she wears them to all the weddings she attends because they are comfortable and she can dance all night.

But old shoes are old shoes, and when they break while she is doing the electric slide at her nieces wedding, she falls into the cake.

Thus beginning her year in hell.

Elizabeth McKenzie said...

The broken heel is a great way to do a lot of things. To start the book off, to slow down time or speed it up, to show how a person deals with conflict, gets you into the personality, and can be used to lighten up a story. She might break a heel and fall into the arms of the man she is destined to be with. The possibilities are endless.

FictionGroupie said...

I have a character in my current romance WIP that breaks a heel, so maybe this pic is of her!

Heather Sunseri said...

I think this girl came dowstairs in her house to make coffee. She's dressed in a T-shirt and nothing else, but her cat got out when she opened the door to check the temerpature, and these shoes were handy by the door. So she slipped them on to quickly grab the cat, got locked out, and the heel broke when she stomped her foot hard against the brick in frustration.

Lori said...

Inner conflict is the only one that counts!
I am loving all these stories! I'll try to think of one too.

Amy Tate said...

This girl is me!!!! I was recently shopping in Target when my son stepped on the back of my flip flop and broke it. I had to shop the rest of the store like "Diddle Diddle Dumplin' My Son John, went to bed with his bathrobe on, one shoe off and one shoe on, Diddle Diddle Dumplin' My Son John."
Makes you wonder what motivated whoever wrote that nursery rhyme, doesn't it? I wonder if he broke his flip flop in Target.

Jennifer Major said...

Maybe her college age daughter wore them out the night before and danced a little too much! Where do you find these pictures?!

Kelly H-Y said...

Can I just say ... your posts are so awesome and enlightening and thought-provoking!! Love them!

Terri Tiffany said...

She's rushing to an important interview--her first job after college and now she doesn't know what to do!

GirlMeetsGun said...

I pictured her on the way to her first interview for a job that could change her life, and before it happened she was thinking, "I need this job so badly, please be the one, please be impressed by me."

And then her heel snapped off.

Internal conflict: She is stressed out because she needs a job badly.

External: this damn broken heel may have just cost her her apartment and car.

Awesome points. :)

GirlMeetsGun said...

Terri Tiffany-

I didn't even read your comment before posting that. I'm sorry for stealing your idea! lol.

Beth said...

Maybe she's ticked because she thinks her shoe broke because of the extra weight she's gained, and her shoes have declared a mutiny?! :)

BTW, this totally happened to me out on a date with my husband (he was my boyfriend at the time), and he actually carried me to the car (sigh).

Kathryn Magendie said...

Her friend sabotaged Betty! Her friend wants the promotion that Betty was going for - so, the friend cut into the heel when she was at Betty's house one day . . . she knew she'd be late for work, and the boss would give the promo to her...that bee-otch!

strugglingwriter said...

She broke her heel protecting the world from evil do-ers again. All the while taking the kids to school, and buying the groceries. And that was just before lunch.

Strange Fiction said...

Aha! I knew it. It was Veronica.

WhisperingWriter said...

Maybe the heel broke because she's a total klutz and clomps when she wears heels instead of clicking like most women...

B.J. Anderson said...

I think she broke the heel on the way to rob a bank because she can't swallow her pride to ask her mother for some money because she didn't amount to anything.

Kim Kasch said...

I had lunch one day with my son - downtown. As we were walking down the street, my heel caught and snapped off. Luckily my son could help me wobble my way around.

So I say, just a sudden snap in the sumptuous world of shoes.

Glynis said...

She is a tipsy expat living in Cyprus.She decided to walk home via the vineyards after a BBQ. There are no paths, only uneven donkey tracks. She is trying to look sophisticated, when she would have been better off in sneakers. Her heel breaks and the local donkey is her means of transport home, guided by the handsome Kristakis.

Kelly said...

Cool scenario!
This lady was on her way into the gas station to buy some mega ball million lottery tickets, but her heel broke. She decided it was not her lucky day, so she bought a candy bar instead.

Barrie said...

A girl (junior high?) racing off to meet an older guy (high school) for the first time, she borrowed her older sister's shoes...

Mark Zamen said...

Your comments about the importance of internal conflict in a story are unquestionably correct. This element plays a crucial part in my recently released biographical novel, Broken Saint. It is based on my forty-year friendship with a gay, Mormon, bipolar man, and chronicles his internal and external struggles as he battles for stability and acceptance (of himself and by others, including co-religionists). More information on the book is available at www.eloquentbooks.com/BrokenSaint.html.

Mark Zamen, author