21 August 2014

How to Write a Story Concept for More than One Point-of-View Character

To give you an idea of the sort of help and support every writer needs, a writer watching the PlotWriMo: Revise Your Novel in a Month videos asks on A Path to Publishing FB group: How do you write a concept for more than one pov?

Concept
Who Wants What?
Antagonist Stopping her?
Motivation?

Concept extraordinaire Jill Corcoran answers with this example:

SHOE STUD is a romantic comedy told from alternating pov of the descendants of rivaling shoe dynasties in which Steve, a kleptomaniac with a fetish for shoes, and Marnie, a shy college senior with only one foot, must be the first to find a pair of diamond-studded Blanka wedges or lose their chance at inheriting a sparkling new shoe manufacturing plant.

That one line says enough to intrigue and includes all three plot lines (with a hint of possibility for the fourth).

Dramatic Action:
Will the wedges be found?
Who will find them first?
Ticking clock: who finds the shoes first and wins?

Character Emotional Development:
Steve: kleptomaniac with a fetish for shoes (gives a clear sense of his strength, flaw, love)
Marnie: shy college senior with only one foot (gives a clear sense of her flaw, backstory wound, strength)

Thematic Significance:
At this point the story hinges more on the quirky characterizations of the point-of-view characters and less on a higher calling. If one of them have a goal of winning the plant that includes a higher purpose the thematic significance heightens.

Romance: Any story about a girl and a boy | a woman and a man always offers the possibility of a heart connection between them.

As the concept is written here, the whimsy of the tale is enough for your family, friends, agents, editors, readers to ask for more and thus satisfy the basic demand of a story concept.
Next Concept 1-day Workshop -- Saturday, September 13th.

(If you haven't already, join us at the A Path to Publishing FB group. Jill and I created the Facebook group as safe, smart, fun alcove for writers and illustrators to share and learn about the craft of writing and the book biz. This is NOT a place to sell your books but a forum for us all to advance our skills, our creativity and our dreams plus learn about what we are up to at A PATH TO PUBLISHING. All genres for all ages Welcome!)

Today I write!
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For more: Read my Plot Whisperer and Blockbuster Plots books for writers.
~~~~
Need more help with your story? 
  • Looking for tips to prop up your middle with excitement? 
  • Wish you understood how to show don't tell what your character is feeling? 
  • Are even you sometimes bored with your own story?
  • Long to form your concept into words? 
We can help you with all of that and so much more! View your story in an entirely new light. Recharge your energy and enthusiasm for your writing.


PlotWwiMo: REVISE YOUR NOVEL IN A MONTH - Trailer PlotWriMo: Revise Your Novel in a Month includes 8 videos  (5.5 hours)  + 30 exercises total

18 August 2014

Dramatic Action Inciting Incident and Character Emotional Development Dark Night

A writer asks: isn't the inciting incident of an example I use -- the Pulitizer Prize winning The Goldfinch by Donna Tartt -- when he steals the painting?

Yes, the dramatic action inciting incident is when he steals The Goldfinch in the museum. His action energizes the external action, changing the ordinary to the dramatic -- thus inciting the dramatic action plot.

I was describing just prior to her question the scene that occupies the all important 1st Energetic Marker: the End of the Beginning. Rather than the scene where he steals the painting earning the marker moment, the scene that steals the coveted spot is when his father arrives. His father's arrival is a pivotal no-turning-back moment that earns this honor because at its heart, this story is primarily character-driven. Long before his mother dies in the explosion, his father inflicted the protagonist's backstory wound when he walked out on them.

Yes, the dramatic action makes this a page-turning novel -- will he or won't he succeed? The answer we come to care about more deeply is will he or won't he find peace?

After that presentation and especially so after presenting solo Plot and Character Transformation in Novels: Character Goals versus Character Traits, I find I don't even try to resist throwing in what negative reviewers seem to hate in The Plot Whisperer: Secrets of Story Structure Any Writer Can Master -- the Universal Story, especially how it applies beyond stories to us in the human realm. I come home energized about my up-coming: Transform Your Creative Life through the Universal Story: Seize the Life of Your Dreams online personal transformation workshop. Join me and move from where you currently are in the Universal Story to your heart's desire.

Today I write!
~~~~~~~~
For more: Read my Plot Whisperer and Blockbuster Plots books for writers.
~~~~
Need more help with your story? 
  • Looking for tips to prop up your middle with excitement? 
  • Wish you understood how to show don't tell what your character is feeling? 
  • Are even you sometimes bored with your own story?
  • Long to form your concept into words? 
We can help you with all of that and so much more! View your story in an entirely new light. Recharge your energy and enthusiasm for your writing.


PlotWwiMo: REVISE YOUR NOVEL IN A MONTH - TrailerPlotWriMo: Revise Your Novel in a Month includes 8 videos  (5.5 hours)  + 30 exercises total

12 August 2014

Plot Tips for Introverts: How to Survive a Writers Conference

I muse out loud why the heck I ever agreed to leave my tiny paradise for a crowded plane ride smack into hundreds of anxious, eager, confident, quaking writers. Quaking myself in anticipation of my presentation, I question the emotional cost of forcing oneself to be something we're not inherently pre-disposed to be.

Quietly listening to me moan, the serenely beautiful and thoughtful literary agent Danielle Smith from Red Fox Literary Agency recommends Susan Cain's Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can't Stop Talking.

I'd never thought of myself as an introvert until I started reading this captivating book and saw me staring back at myself.

"Quiet and cerebral people who know how to tune into their inner world and the treasures to be found there."

Love that. Check.

"Highly sensitive."

Huh, huh. Check.

And the list goes on. Pair all that with being shy in a family and at a time that believed that being shy was selfish, I'm not surprised I willed myself to be extroverted. That painful journey out of silence I've talked about, thanks to Cain, I finally understand.

If you, too, are shy and not comfortable with putting yourself out there, being confident about your abilities and proclaiming proudly your worthiness as a writer, writer's conferences tend to be grueling, excruciating even. One writer passes out in the pitch-an-agent/editor line. Another runs to the bathroom to hurl. Others turn away before their turn materializes. You sit next to an agent while the writer on her other side wows her with a pithy pitch and outrageous concept as you wither and wait until enough time has elapsed to leave the table.

To survive, you're going to have to conjure up a strategy how to don the personality of an extrovert for the weekend, because you do have to sell yourself in this business. Don't fool yourself that you're there to enjoy the company of other like-minded writers. That's true, as is the list of workshops that will serve you well. Your primary reason for leaving the safely of your writer's cave to attend a writer's conference is find an agent who loves your story and wants more.

Be brave. Take the risk. Open your mouth and blurt out something. Then open your mouth again and again until something coherent and compelling comes out. Perhaps in that moment -- right agent, right time -- magic happens… Worth the risk? A resounding Yes!

I now speak to crowds of 500. And… I actually quite enjoy the experience. The anticipation still makes me quake and I still try to schedule an entire week off after I return home from conferences. I suggest you try to make time, too, to gather yourself hung-over from anxiety, fear and the exhilaration of stepping into the arena in belief of yourself and your story.

Take the leap this weekend, August 15, 16, 17th and join me at the Writer's Digest Novel Writing Conference in L. A. For my followers, register with the promotional code WDSPEAKER. Today I write!
~~~~~~~~
For more: Read my Plot Whisperer and Blockbuster Plots books for writers.
~~~~
Need more help with your story? 
  • Looking for tips to prop up your middle with excitement? 
  • Wish you understood how to show don't tell what your character is feeling? 
  • Are even you sometimes bored with your own story?
  • Long to form your concept into words? 
We can help you with all of that and so much more! View your story in an entirely new light. Recharge your energy and enthusiasm for your writing.


PlotWwiMo: REVISE YOUR NOVEL IN A MONTH - TrailerPlotWriMo: Revise Your Novel in a Month includes 8 videos  (5.5 hours)  + 30 exercises total

10 August 2014

How to Show Character Mastery and Transformation through both the Internal and External Plots

The final quarter of your story carries the responsibility of getting your characters to the right place at the right time for one final confrontation and support the final opportunity that leads to success and ultimate transformation.
The scenes that comprise the final quarter of your story are filled with the tension of not knowing whether protagonist will win or fail at the climax.

Writing to the end of your story may very well be filling you with tension. Will I ever finish this thing???

Not just with your writing, you may find that with other parts of your life that somehow when your back was turned (though if you retrace scene by scene, you'd note the clear path) your antagonists have grown stronger and more determined and the stakes rise in intensity as you become more and more aware of all the ways you sabotage yourself from finishing and seizing that which you most desire (because, ultimately, no one else can fell us. We--us personally--are the only ones who give up).

Writers make symbolic gestures, like writing down specific daily writing goal and turning off the cable and removing the TV from the premises, promises to their writing lives and living proof of their commitment to themselves to write. Such dedication and willingness to do what's demanded to succeed at your goal!

You've been making good progress and then Bam! Blindsided by a familiar antagonist you'd mistakenly believed was sleeping, the backstory wound you've patiently been been nursing to health activates. This time, rather than touch off your transformed emotional maturity, the blow sends you spiraling all the way back to your old ways of dealing with hurt and betrayal or whatever your backstory wound oozes by beating yourself up and/or raging. Even so, slowly, you find yourself recovering more quickly after each hit and back to writing or whatever your passion as you continue to internally incorporate the you who you are becoming. New strategies and actions you learned during the hard times now serve you well.

Each time you take positive, conscious steps toward your goal, you find yourself acting with more and more emotional maturity than at any other time in your life. You take responsibility for the pain you've suffered and inflicted to get to where you are now and suddenly delight, finding gifts awaiting you and gaining confidence as you prove to yourself and everyone around you that you're passionate about growing and changing. You begin to see how you yourself influence the action around you at your weakest and now how you can change the action around you to benefit your goals through your new strength and determination and maturity.

In this last quarter proving ground on the way to mastery and your prize -- finishing your story, making peace with the past, falling in love again for the first time -- even as you fall back, you pick yourself up, learn, remind yourself of your goals, imagine your character at the end through a clear lens and take the next step needed to move forward.

Today I write!
~~~~~~~~
For more: Read my Plot Whisperer and Blockbuster Plots books for writers.
~~~~
Need more help with your story? 
  • Looking for tips to prop up your middle with excitement? 
  • Wish you understood how to show don't tell what your character is feeling? 
  • Are even you sometimes bored with your own story?
  • Long to form your concept into words? 
We can help you with all of that and so much more! View your story in an entirely new light. Recharge your energy and enthusiasm for your writing.

PlotWwiMo: REVISE YOUR NOVEL IN A MONTH - TrailerPlotWriMo: Revise Your Novel in a Month includes 8 videos  (5.5 hours)  + 30 exercises total

04 August 2014

A Compelling Concept Elicits: Tell Me More!

A writer asks about what concept to bring forward in the Concept, Logline, Pitch Workshop this weekend (8/9/14). She has several novels in-progress and complete (are our stories ever really complete? The longer we take to finish, the more time we have to grow and change which ultimately servers to deepen and enrich our work).

Her heart's desire speaks of something else entirely.

I explain about Saturday's workshop, you'll have 5 minutes in the morning and 5 minutes in the afternoon. You want to have a concept ready to go (watch the free Video #1 and also helpful is Video #3 in PlotWriMo: Revise Your Novel in a Month video series) so you can spend as much of the time allotted to you listening to Jill's feedback without feeling the need to defend yourself -- simply to listen and absorb what she says. She's really quite amazing at this. 

You'll be listening to so many other pitches that you'll begin to glean the method to creating them. So, I don't think it matters which story you pick as much as really perfecting your concept before pitching it to Jill Saturday.

About choosing which story to pitch, I share a painful learning experience from some pretty nasty reviews on Amazon for the Plot Whisperer: Secrets of Story Structure Any Writer Can Master book. You have to buck up and take it when you write outside the norm. I actually wasn't prepared for some of the more personal attacks and the lesson has been a tough one and very valuable for me to learn.

If we let our fear of exposure limit us and we back down, new ideas can't take flight. If not by you, the story goes unwritten.

A compelling concept elicits from your friends, readers, agents, editors, reviewers, audiences and fans: Tell me more!

Today I write.
~~~~~~~~

For more: Read my Plot Whisperer and Blockbuster Plots books for writers.

~~~~
Need more help with your story? 
  • Looking for tips to prop up your middle with excitement? 
  • Wish you understood how to show don't tell what your character is feeling? 
  • Are even you sometimes bored with your own story?
  • Long to form your concept into words? 
We can help you with all of that and so much more! View your story in an entirely new light. Recharge your energy and enthusiasm for your writing.

1st video (43 minutes of direct instruction + exercises for your own individual story) FREE
PlotWwiMo: REVISE YOUR NOVEL IN A MONTH - TrailerPlotWriMo: Revise Your Novel in a Month includes 8 videos  (5.5 hours)  + 30 exercises total

28 July 2014

The Exact Right Beginning of Your Story -- How Do You Know for Sure?

We quickly cover the BIG Energetic Marker, nearly at the end, the Climax and I know already from the character profile and thematic statement that she's got a whopper of a story. (Is that even a word anymore? a whopper. Was it ever?) Her story is so timely, I want to nudge her to finish faster, go the distance, see her story with a plot all the way to the end. She's committed. And she's already done so much work.
When she finally settles on memoir rather than fiction (pros and cons on both sides) and gets to the start of the story, she grapples, which we all do -- where to begin. Having always

heard
heard and
heard 

start with a bang, an inciting incident, something big and dramatic to dazzle the agent, the editor, the reader, she begins with the biggest scene of all, an outrageously dramatic event and… seriously flawed.

For the reader to care about a death on the first page, she has to feel an immediate emotional tie and that bond is generally formed with the character. That's not to say that there aren't plenty of stories that work quite well with death on page one. Murder mysteries in particular demand it.

However, in other stories, why give away a huge scene fraught with conflicting emotions at the very beginning before the reader is settled and beginning to truly care about the characters and intrigued with the story and wanting more? The only way forward after that is to resort to flashbacks to fill in the missing pieces. Again, perfect for a murder mystery--the reader learns the clues as the protagonist solving the mystery.

Memoirs use lots of flashbacks and memories. In her case, that she can go linear by thematically and tightly linked cause and effect, the dream she weaves the reader into becomes more real and immediate and powerfully moving.

Readers don't always remember details at the very beginning of a story because they're scrambling to decide if they like the characters, can follow the plot and are ready to commit to reading forward.

Give them the huge scene at the 1st Energetic Marker; the End of the Beginning when the reader feels a part of the story, the characters more familiar to her than family and impatient to know what happens next. A death here means something. That it evokes anger pulls a very committed reader smack into the writer's exotic world of the middle.
(For more tips about where to begin your beginning: The Plot Whisperer Workbook Step-by-Step Exercises to Help You Create Compelling Stories)
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Need more help revising your story? 
  • Looking for tips to prop up your middle with excitement? 
  • Wish you understood how to show don't tell what your character is feeling? 
  • Are even you sometimes bored with your own story?
  • Long to form your concept into words? 
We can help you with all of that and so much more! View your story in an entirely new light. Recharge your energy and enthusiasm for your writing. NEW and IMPROVED (including new and improved price!)

**Includes 8 videos  (5.5 hours)  + 30 exercises total
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For more: Read my Plot Whisperer and Blockbuster Plots books for writers.

15 July 2014

How to Turn a Lackluster Middle into Page-turning Excitement

A writer revising the rough draft of a novel stalls in the middle where he finds some quirky, secondary characters, one of whom is a potential "romance plot" suitor, a couple of magical and mystical settings, several subplots of enchantment, various minor characters and… not much excitement. Appraising the long, dull corridor spanning the entire Middle, the writer despairs both at how to keep his revision ideas organized and, more importantly, how to amp up the tension and excitement.

Each secondary character and setting, subplot and minor character holds the potential for tension and excitement especially when paired against what the protagonist wants. This takes stepping back from the rough draft to dig deeper into the other characters individually, discovering their importance to the overall meaning of the story beyond helping the protagonist get to where she needs to go and devising goals and aspirations that interfere with the protagonist's goals and aspirations. This means you need to get to know these other characters as well as you know your protagonist.

In the rough draft, these secondary and minor cardboard characters served you while writing the protagonist's storyline. Now, in the revision, is their time to shine. Antagonists rule the middle and are there to teach the protagonist what she needs to know in order to prevail at the climax at the end. This learning is not easy and is fraught with dangerous and often unkind challenges.

Fill out a Character Profile for each character, defining goals in direct opposition to what the protagonist wants while also mirroring traits the protagonist is oblivious of and needs to confront and overcome over the course of the entire story.

(For more: Plot Whisperer and Blockbuster Plots books for writers and PlotWriMo: Revise Your Novel in a Month video series.)

11 July 2014

Benefits of a Solid Concept and the Art of Pitching Your Story

Summer means Writers Conferences and pitching your story. You find yourself sitting at lunch next to a literary agent. How quickly and compellingly do you draw her into your story? How intriguing is your concept?

When friends ask what your story is about, rather than drone on about every single plot point, learn how to rattle off a pithy pitch that sends even people overhearing you begging for more.

Think of the concept and pitch as the seeds out of which grow action and characters interacting in a meaningful way.

Some writers won't write a word until they come up with a concept that renders them eager for more. Others don't tackle the task until they've finished writing and editing and are ready to query.

Wherever you are with your story, the time is never too early to ask yourself: What is your story about really? Brainstorm. Keep a notebook. Narrow down what your story is about to one or two lines and you're ready to pitch.

Concept, Logline, Pitch Workshop is the next workshop for all ages and all genres at A Path to Publishing.

Join literary agent and publishing insider Jill Corcoran and me and 22 other writers for the opportunity to refine your story concept, develop a log line and perfect your pitch.

05 July 2014

Pre-Plotting Made Simple

How to Pre-Plot:

1. Brainstorm ideas: Rough Sketch the 4 Energetic Markers on a Plot Planner

2. Test Concept Ideas for Feedback

3. Interview Your Main Characters

4. Write a Transformational Statement for Protagonist

5. Fill in Scene Ideas on your Plot Planner
  • Contrast Beginning and End
  • Exotic Middle World of the Antagonists

6. Write

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For more: Read my Plot Whisperer and Blockbuster Plots books for writers.

~~~~
Need more help with your story? 
  • Looking for tips to prop up your middle with excitement? 
  • Wish you understood how to show don't tell what your character is feeling? 
  • Are even you sometimes bored with your own story?
  • Long to form your concept into words? 
We can help you with all of that and so much more! View your story in an entirely new light. Recharge your energy and enthusiasm for your writing.

1st video (43 minutes of direct instruction + exercises for your own individual story) FREE
PlotWriMo: Revise Your Novel in a Month includes 8 videos  (5.5 hours)  + 30 exercises total

02 July 2014

Cause and Effect Scene by Scene

Cause and effect within and between scenes allows you to seamlessly lead the reader to each major turning point by linking the cause in one scene to the effect in the next scene. This sequencing allows the energy of the story to rise smoothly.

If the sequence breaks down, scenes come out of the blue, and your story turns episodic. The reader, in turn, becomes disconcerted.

A story is made up of scenes with a clear dependence on each other. Conflict in a scene represents the motivating cause that sets a series of events in motion. As you test for cause and effect notice how some features of your story are more important than others. Look for patterns and see what elements lead to the thematic significance and which do not.

Scenes with No Cause and Effect 
As important as it is to study how scenes are linked by cause and effect, it’s just as important to analyze scenes with no line(s) linking them to others. Note any unexpected objects, locations, and actions in and between scenes deserve foreshadowing and earlier mentions and hints.

The reader (and the protagonist) doesn’t have an outline of the story and thus can only anticipate what is coming by discerning the clues given along the way by the use of foreshadowing. The life of the story takes on its own particular shape, and its sequence seems inevitable to the reader and audience because of foreshadowing.

Emotional Cause and Effect 
Use cause and effect to convey emotion in the protagonist. In one scene, a character responds emotionally to an event. In the next scene, we see the outcome of that emotional response, which, in turn, becomes the cause for another emotional effect. Each scene is organic; seeds planted in the first scene create the effect in the next.

Your Turn
Once again, push aside the words of your story. This time, stand back from it to determine the causality between scenes and the overall coherence of your story. View your story as a whole. With such an insight, you are better able to turn scenes with emotionally rich characters who are experiencing conflict into the driving force behind an exceptional story.
(Taken from: The Plot Whisperer Workbook Step-by-Step Exercises to Help You Create Compelling Stories)
~~~~
Need more help with your story? 
  • Looking for tips to prop up your middle with excitement? 
  • Wish you understood how to show don't tell what your character is feeling? 
  • Are even you sometimes bored with your own story?
  • Long to form your concept into words? 
We can help you with all of that and so much more! View your story in an entirely new light. Recharge your energy and enthusiasm for your writing.

1st video (43 minutes of direct instruction + exercises for your own individual story) FREE
PlotWriMo: Revise Your Novel in a Month includes 8 videos  (5.5 hours)  + 30 exercises total

 ~~~~~~~~
For more: Read my Plot Whisperer and Blockbuster Plots books for writers.