Sunday, May 16, 2010


At a writers’ conference in Texas where I was on staff, I met Frank Ball, the director of numerous Christian writers conferences in the northwest area of Dallas/Fort Worth. He shared one of his teaching tools with me which is an excellent way to remember the essential elements of fiction writing that will help your reader becoming emotionally involved in your novel. Although Scoop It Up is an acronym for techniques to be used in the first chapter of your novel, you will see that it can work for future chapters and scenes as well

The same SCOOP elements can also help you prepare a back cover blurb of your complete novel.

Situation: The environment or condition in which the story takes place
Character: A name of title of the person whose desire matters most.
Objective: The deep desire that the character is desperate to satisfy.
Obstacle: The condition that put the goal’s fulfillment in doubt.
Plight: What the character risks in the pursuit of what he or she wants.

By the end of the story, the IT comes into play.

Insight: What the character learns, which he didn’t know in the beginning.
Transformation: How the character changes, either positively or negatively.

To carry readers’ interest into the next chapter or continuation of the story, you can also use UP

Unresolved: The unanswered question raised by the current insight and transformation.
Problem: The character’s concern about what will happen next.

Here’s a sample from my imagination:
Returning to the small town in which she lived her teen years (Situation), Emily Dorset, (Character), homeless and in trouble wants to find the father of her four year old Cody (Objective) although Race Bradley doesn’t know he has a son (Obstacle). Will Race welcome them into his home and heart or turn his back? (Plight)

Asking questions in town (Situation), Emily (Character) learns Race is still single and now the owner of his parent’s lovely home (Objective), but he is mayor of the city winning over a man of questionable morals.(Obstacle). Will admitting Cody is his son ruin his reputation in a town that values his moral standards (Plight)

Hopefully this gives you the idea of how to use SCOOP to summarize your novel and build a story that offers readers conflicts in every scene.

Frank Ball is the director of the Northwest Texas Christian Writers and author of the book, Eye Witness,

© Frank Ball 2010 Used with permission.


Carla Gade said...

Great acronyms! I love those - so helpful.

Gail Gaymer Martin said...

Thanks, Carla. I'm glad you find it helpful. I thought it was excellent so I asked Frank if I could share it with others. He agreed.