In fiction, stimulus and response work like a ping-pong game. They make you look at the line-by-line progression of a story.
Stimulus is external, and so is response, and as such they must be shown on the page. Action and dialogue are key. However, action can include a character interacting with the setting, showing an emotional response, or describing a sensory input. So long as these are ‘shown’, not told.
Character thoughts do not create an external stimulus or response.
So let’s have a closer look. The first stimulus might be an event or action which affects Character A. Character A responds. Their response creates a stimulus for Character B. Character B responds, which in turn becomes a new stimulus for Character A.
For example we could take the following initial stimulus:
I was privileged last Saturday to attend the second of Sara Grant’s Revision Workshops hosted by North East SCBWI in York. Much was learnt during Sara’s workshops, too much to detail in one post, but I thought I’d share one insight, which I have found very helpful.
I love it when writers get down to the nitty gritty of their writing, dissecting it sentence by sentence and seeing what makes it tick. There’s a perfect example of this over at On Becoming a Wordsmith.
I’ve learnt a huge amount from writing this blog. One of the most important being, ‘you’ve always got something else you can learn.’ But now I’m back to writing a first draft, I find all this information on writing techniques buzzing around my head is getting in the way.
It’s like buying a new house and trying to re-decorate everything at once. Nobody chooses the colour scheme, paints the woodwork, puts up the wallpaper, and changes the light fittings all at the same time.
Learning so many wonderful and useful things about writing craft is all well and good, but I’m beginning to feel like I’ve gone to B&Q and bought the whole shop, so now I have no idea where to start.
What I need to remember is a first draft is just that; the first draft of many. So I’ve come up with a plan and it compares surprisingly well to my decorating techniques. Continue reading →