28 March 2008


Adversity does not build character.
Adversity reveals it.

The Beginning of a memoir or work of fiction (1/4 of the entire project) for any age group serves -- among other things like the setting, the dramatic question, the mystery - if there is one, the love interest- if there is one, and the like -- to introduce the character's emotional development. This is where the character strengths and flaws, loves and hates, dreams and goals are introduced.

The Middle (1/2 of the entire project) serves to reveal the deeper nuances of the character's emotional development. This is the part of the story where the writer thrusts the protagonist into as much adversity as possible in order to reveal to the reader or movie goer who the character really is. (Plot tip: make a list of all possible antagonists-- other people, nature, society, belief system, and/or machines -- that can help to create conflict, tension and suspense or curiosity and thus reveal who the character is under pressure -- the more pressure the better)

The End (1/4 of the project) is that portion of the project that actually shows how the character's emotional development has been affected by the adversity in the Middle and reveals how the character has been transformed.

These steps in the overall character emotional transformation can be plotted out on a Plot Planner for ease in developing your project.

What is the most revealing adversity you have experienced either through your character or in your own life?

04 March 2008


When writers get stuck, it is usually because one or more of the three plot elements has been ignored by:
• Concentrating on action only, forgetting that character provides interest and is the primary reason that people go to the movies and read books.
• Organizing solely around the character and overlooking the fact that dramatic action provides the excitement every story needs.
• Forgetting to develop the overall meaning or the thematic significance of their stories. When the dramatic action changes the character at depth over time, the story becomes thematically significance.

It's tough to juggle all of these elements at once. We end up trying too hard. Our writing suffers. We become stiff and self-conscious. The joy of writing diminishes.

This isn't such a bad thing, if you're committed to being a writer. Learning the craft of writing is constant. The more you know, the more you appreciate how much you don't know.

In a plot consultation, the omissions slowly become clear to the writer. The more she understands both her strengths and her weaknesses, the faster she is able to identify what isn't working, why, and how to proceed.

The only way to know our strengths and weaknesses is to get feedback -- from a critique group, an editor, a plot consultant, or by individual plot analyzation.

Plot is made up of three intertwining threads:
• Character emotional development
• Dramatic action
• Thematic significance
In other words, the protagonist acts or reacts. In so doing, he or she is changed and something significant is learned.

When you write, do you juggle all three plot lines at once? Or, do you write one plot line a draft? Always curious about other writers' process......