Wednesday, August 21, 2013



Too many acronyms these days?

Maybe, but here’s one that I bet you’ll find as helpful as I do.


It stands for Lead, Objective, Confrontation and Knockout.

It’s the invention of James Scott Bell, the author of several how-to-write books including my favourite,  The Art of War of Writing.
According to Bell, if you have a good grasp of these four elements, you’ll have a strong story. I think he’s right.

Lead is, of course, the protagonist. The Lead must be compelling because the reader (and author) will be travelling with him for a long time. Whole books have been written on how exactly to achieve a compelling Lead. It’s essential, and the reason most memorable books are memorable!

Objective is what the Lead wants. It’s what drives the story. It’s the reason why the Lead does the things he does. When I revise a first draft, I make a list of all the things my Lead wants in the story. Then I circle the dominant objective, the one thing the Lead must get at all costs.

Confrontation is the opposition the Lead faces trying to get what he wants.  Bell reminds us to think: two dogs and one bone. It can’t get simpler than that.

Knockout is that great ending that all authors want to write and all readers want to read!


It’s a good reminder of what a story really is. I’m almost ready to revise the first draft of a book I’ve been working on since last winter. I’m going to start with LOCK and make sure all those elements are there before I start tinkering with the finer stuff

Lead, Objective, Confrontation, Knockout – nothing really new, but it’s a neat reminder.


Hero of Lesser Causes by Julie Johnston

This is not a new book but it is well worth searching for a copy. It won lots of accolades including the Governor General's Award. It is the moving story of Keely Connor whose world is shaken when her brother becomes ill with polio.

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