About Writing, Life and Writing About Life

Emotional Flight Plan

I’d like to share with you an idea taught to me by Rosie Barfoot in relation to giving talks or presentations – that of the Emotional Flight Plan. If you look at the picture, each line represents where the talk will take the person listening over time. Would you rather listen to a talk like flight plan number 1 or number 2? That’s right, number 2. Number 1, although overall more positive, would be BORING. Number 2 creates an emotional rollercoaster, making the highs seem much higher because you have been down to the depths.
It occurred to me long ago that this principle can also be applied to books. Although obivously far be it from me to criticise, it was one of the things I felt got more challenging about the later Harry Potter books – there was just SO much dark and depressing, and where the final book was divided into two films, The Deathly Hallows part one ended up being unremittingly dark.
So when I was thinking about the structure of my book I wondered about the Emotional Flight Plan. My thoughts of having the first half of the book as Challenges and the second half as Strategies worked on one level,but there was a danger of being too depressing for too long. I toyed with the idea of mixing them up – one challenge, one strategy – but that didn’t really work as each strategy does not relate specifically to a particular challenge. Then I hit on the principle that each Challenge might contain hidden within it an Opportunity. This was a bit of a lightbulb moment as it allows me to lift the mood at the end of each Challenge chapter, making the emotional flight plan of the book look much more like picture 2. And it should also be more thought-provoking for the reader, which is an added bonus and just demonstrates how useful this principle is in planning a book.

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