Thursday, April 24, 2014

U IS FOR U-TURN!


Ideas can’t be copyrighted, so these ideas are free for you to use.

U is for U-turn

A U-turn can work as the theme of your story, a crisis point, a simple object, or a jumping off area. For a fun little Romance, consider that when the hero makes a U-turn on Franklin Street in his mother’s car, he takes it so wide that he accidentally clips the bumper of the heroine’s parked car. She’s walking down her sidewalk just as it happens, about to leave for the gym. So now she marches up between his car and hers, all ready to get huffy, but the apologetic look in his seductive eyes draws her right in and her poised control crumbles.

Now they’ve met, and all you have to do is get them talking long enough to want to see each other again. Then throw in some nice little curves–her insurance company is suing his mother (owner of the car) for a bit more than the accident was really worth. Add to that, his nosy mother gives the heroine a call and doles out a piece of her mind. Throw in a few more obstacles and you’ll be well on your way to letting these two people fall hopelessly in love. After all, it always seems to be what we must fight for that we most appreciate in the end.

Mystery writers might incorporate a U-turn in their stories with the sleuth driving down the road, hot on the trail of his prime suspect, when he suddenly reconsiders something Sally had said. She’d mentioned the brief hour of rain around midnight last Wednesday, one that came down so hard it smashed the azaleas lining her house. The sleuth is thinking Sally wouldn’t have known exactly which night the rain came so hard, and at what time, when she was supposedly visiting her mother then in Iowa for three days.

The storm damage could have happened while she was gone, but who would actually look in a newspaper or online to discover specifically which night and time her flowers had been ruined during her absence? No. Sally wasn’t gone anywhere. She was right here in Pokey Town, jabbing a knife into Horrace’s chest. Upon that realization, your sleuth makes a U-turn and heads back to town. First stop–Sally’s house.

Literary. Many literary stories are U-turns in themselves, or structured like a U-turn. Consider a guy who plows ahead in a certain direction until some event happens that affects him in a way that causes a change. If it’s a negative impact, he might head right back to his starting point. You can look at that as almost a circular journey, and literary works usually are, because they reflect life in a defining manner. It gives us a certain perspective on the psyche oh humanity.

 Think about Alzheimer’s, a topic I’m using in one of my short stories. In a way, the disease mimics a U-turn. Where was your character headed before the disease affected him in such a way that he started going in reverse, reliving moments long past? This is a U-turn in life. It happens, and when it does, it evokes powerful emotions that affect everyone around the afflicted. Your story might evolve best through the reactions of those witnessing another character’s diminished power of chronological thought, and the acknowledgement that we could all be there someday. Some witnesses might look at it as a troublesome, albeit unique, venture in life that many are forced to take. What joys can still be had during this time? That’s worth analyzing, and that analysis will give you the seeds to a powerful story.

A story for Young Adults involving a U-turn might be plotted like this: if Kirby hadn’t been in such a hurry, if he hadn’t thought Tyler was in danger of suicide–because of Tyler’s voice message on Kirby’s cell phone, Kirby would have never made a U-turn on Highway 16. He would’ve never gotten a speeding ticket, never got grounded, and he would’ve never had the keys to the car taken away.

Some Joke, Kirby thinks, after he finally gets a hold of Tyler, who laughs endlessly and reminds Kirby that it’s April Fools’ Day. Kirby is not laughing. “Because of your stupid prank, I don’t have wheels to take Lacey out this weekend, and I’m grounded for a frickin’ month!” That’s what Kirby is still fuming about when he gets another message from Tyler, a text this time. And it’s another threat of suicide. What the heck? Enough is enough already. Kirby isn’t going to fall for it twice. But, what if this time …

What ideas can you pull off the top of your head? If you can offer some in genres I didn’t cover, such as horror, sci-fi, or fantasy, please share! Readers will appreciate it.

Happy writing!

 

 

87 comments:

  1. It just struck me that making u-turns is one of the continuous themes in my stories. A young man who left home under a big cloud of acrimony with his parents and never expected to go back.. and is then forced to...A father who was convinced he was right, until he learnt that he wasn't... a woman who was convinced of her career and life paths, until she made a dramatic turn in the opposite direction. Huh! I wonder what that says about what's going on in my head.

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    1. It says you understand the different kinds of changes there should be to make a good story. Sometimes it's just a change to go back to where we started from, or at least a completely different route than where we thought we needed to go. And that's what life is, and that's what makes a good story. :-)

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  2. Making U Turns in life is important also.
    Great post and many ideas.
    Yvonne.

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  3. Unusual idea to use Alzheimer’s...clever and a U turn indeed.
    Maggie@expatbrazil

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  4. Great post Debi thank you. Even the shape of the letter U 'speaks'. I'm bookmarking these posts for future reference. They are extremely informative and useful.
    Garden of Eden Blog

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  5. Your prompts are so thought provoking! I love them.

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  6. terrific ideas for u turns in stories, thanks :)

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  7. Excellent word choice for any of these stories.
    Wendy at Jollett Etc.

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  8. Your U-Turn theme reminds me of the times I've had to make complete U-Turns in my writing. You get to a certain point and realize you've gone down the wrong path, so you have to erase 20 pages of great writing...and get back to where you are by taking a different route...

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    1. Yeah, my writing usually does have a lot of double-backing. :-)

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  9. The idea of "U-turns" makes me think of all those horror movies that take place on a road, like "Jeepers Creepers" and "Joy Ride." There's also a Stephen King novella called "Big Driver" - terrifying!

    (I emailed you back the other day - hope you got it!) :)

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    1. I had to get some painting done last night, but I just responded to your email now. The movies you mentioned above – I've watched them all, couldn't sleep after any of them, not even after the second or third viewings. :-)

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  10. U-turns and twists, when done well, make a story work better than almost anything else!

    Damyanti, Co-host A to Z Challenge April 2014, My Latest post

    Twitter: @AprilA2Z
    #atozchallenge

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  11. Another inspired prompt. Wonder how many stories you've helped to create.

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    1. I don't know, but I hope at least a few. :-)

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  12. A U-Turn or a change in the way your MC sees something important is often the Conflict in the story. U-Turn... a very big deal.

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  13. excellent U word and lots of good ideas. I'm a new follower.

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  14. A car accident is always an interesting way to start a romantic entanglement.

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    1. Yes. It's interesting when people meet under less than comfortable situations, and yet it turns out to be a sort of destiny situation :-).

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  15. A what if/ u turn can really through a fun twist in any story

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  16. This is a good topic for U. Well done.

    Sunni
    http://sunni-survivinglife.blogspot.com/

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  17. Very clever way to handle U in this Challenge. I love U turns in stories. They make them so exciting and you have to keep reading to find out what other U turns the author might have in store for you.

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    1. Yes, it can get really crazy. I should've done a round-about – and going the wrong way on one – for the letter R. :-)

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  18. U-Turns are tricky maneuvers. Not that I make them all the time ... :)

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  19. I think a U-turn would be great for introducing the character to another who is life-altering, and who would never had been met if the U-turn wasn't taken.

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    1. Thank you so much for your input, Sherry. I appreciate it.

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  20. Great ideas and the romance one was good-could be a romantic comedy. The alzheimers hits close to home as my mom has vascular dementia and sometimes a u-turn is what it feels like and other times you are spinning around like a top. sometimes we look back and realize the best life was at a certain time and one can literally take a u turn and head back to that town, person or whatever to recapture what you left behind

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    1. Thank you so much for your comment. I really appreciate it and enjoy your input.

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  21. Good one! I was wondering what you'd come up with for U and you did not disappoint. :D

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  22. PLEASE BE PATIENT WITH ME, DEAR READERS. I'M STILL ANSWERING COMMENTS LEFT FOR T, SO I AM BEHIND BUT I WILL CATCH UP. DON'T WORRY--I WON'T FORGET YOU. :-)

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  23. What a great idea for writing--the "U" turn--the surprise aspect, I like that!

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  24. I love both the literal and figurative ways you demonstrate how a U-turn can be incorporated into any genre. I'm likewise glad to have found your blog during A to Z, Debi--you've given me something to incorporate in my next story, too!

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    1. I'm glad you like the suggestions. Thanks for stopping by and for the follow.

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  25. Your posts are so interesting and I like the creative suggestions. I sometimes write without giving much thought to minor details that are important to stories, although they are included at times. U-turns and what it can mean to a story is one of those. Thanks. Michelle http://www.writer-way.blogspot.com

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  26. Debi, this is a wonderful post with a reminder to me, a mystery writer, to think about U turns Today I also was told about the process of the Hero's Journey in scripting the story arc. I had never heard of that before. Had you?

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    1. Yes, I have heard about the hero's journey, and I used that as my model for my middle grade fantasy. I learned about it in college, and then I took a course through a writers' conference last year in Madison, Wisconsin, and one of the sessions was about the hero's journey. I don't remember who gave it, but it was really good. Dumb me can't remember who taught what! :-) Thanks so much for stopping by, Noelle.

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  27. I like the U turns in love stories, where after much thought, one of the characters drives back ... always at the very last moment. Yeah, I have my romantic moments, what can I say.

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    1. Um, aren't you going to give us one? ;-)

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    2. I did try to think of something but didn't come up with anything right off the top of my head. I'm not having any better luck today.

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  29. A u-turn in character is a big one. Fits any genre.

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    1. I know. And the possibilities for it are endless, which made me sort of feel like I was cheating when I chose U-turn for my prompt. :-)

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  30. I love the surprise twists and turns -- esp when you don't see them coming. Calling them U-turns is a great way to categorize them. Thanks!

    Beth
    BethLapinsAtoZblog.wordpress.com

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    1. Thank you so much for stopping by, Beth!

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  31. What about...a U-turn with Matrix battle going on in front of you. Suddenly your turn into Mr. Smith, who screws up your recent manicure. Keanu wipes out the albino twins, and you turn back into yourself, but you look a heck of a lot like Trinity?

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  32. Fantastic ideas! I love when plots twist and turn like that.

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    1. Me too. It always makes the story interesting.

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  33. A very thought provoking word, and the use of it for exploring the loss of memory and living in the past is something many of us can relate to. It gives me food for thought and a pathway for writing about a family member. Thanks!
    Sue at CollectInTexas Gal

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    1. You are welcome, Sue. It's a hard subject, but it's one that should be explored because it touches so many.

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  34. Thanks Debi for dropping by my U post. I hope your friend finds it interesting. Love the twists and turns in your plots.

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  35. Great descriptions of u-turns! Will have to keep these in mind and now you've got me thinking back on my current wip to see where I might use one, or if I already have without realizing it! Thanks for dropping by my blog and commenting...

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    1. Thanks for the return visit, and I'm glad this post gave you something to consider. :-)

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  36. My head is always spinning after I come here -- in a good way. :)

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  37. The idea of a U-Turn on a literal level in a story is a great way to create tension in a story, but your post also gives me an idea for helping students think about U-Turns metaphorically. Some of the traditional ways of thinking about literature doesn't always work for high school students. via A to Z Challenge

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    1. Thank you. I really appreciate your comment, because so many young adult writers reading this blog will gain a little insight from it. Again, thank you so much.

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  38. Excellent prompt and really great examples of each genre. I would enjoy any of these stories fleshed-out. I have a little trouble with some blogs - I can read you on my I-pad, but for some reason my comments go into a black cloud, and I have to log on to computer to be able to comment. I'm not always able to do that, but I read you every day and learn so much from your ideas. Thank you!

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    1. Thanks, Sammy. Don't worry about not keeping up with comments for me – I understand, but I do love it when you stop by.

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  39. Creative Debi. I enjoy the investigator/policing perspective and u-turns can certainly add to the drama as excitement is ramped up based on something seen by a character.

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    1. Yes – they can add a lot of tension with the twists and turns a U-turn can create.

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  40. Hooray for u-turns! You're so clever. :D

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  41. You have a thing for eyes Miss Debi, as do I. I think you should write me a romance novel :)

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    1. Hah! I'll put that on my to-do list, :-)

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