27 October 2009


The act of writing is not a linear movement from the Beginning, through the Middle and to the End. The act of writing is circuitous and indirect as a reflection of the writer’s own personal strengths and flaws, loves and fears. The writer’s life spirals up and plummets down as characters break through the surface of the imagined world and dive into the murky depths.

The journey the protagonist undertakes mirrors that of the writer’s. A Plot Planner is a visual picture of the plot as a reflection of Dramatic Action, Character Emotional Development and Thematic Significance. The Planner reflects the writer’s journey, too.

The universal story form helps writers hold up their scenes and characters against a backdrop of the whole story. A Plot Planner and a Scene Tracker allows writers to stand back from the words and gain access to a larger context. An entire world emerges along with a better understanding of the significance of each of its parts.


Plot Tips
Introduce the familiar: characters, habits, setting, thought patterns. Do not confuse introduction with passivity. The opening of the project either draws in the reader or the moviegoer or it doesn’t. Dramatic Action calls for conflict, tension, suspense and/or curiosity.

The scenes in the opening 1/4 of the project cause a Separation, a Shift, a Fracture. The effect? The protagonist leaves everything behind. At the end of the Beginning, there is no turning back. The protagonist crosses into the Middle.

Tips for Writers
When you step away from talking about writing a book or a screenplay, your memoir or a children’s book into actually doing it, you join your destiny. Once you begin, there is no turning back. You can stop writing, but the act of writing changes you. The transformation has already begun.

Endure the fear of appearing foolish. The fear is justified. In the Beginning, a writer is awkward, gets lost, and makes mistakes. A Plot Planner helps keep you on track.


Plot Tips
The protagonist leaves behind the life he or she knows for the unknown. New and challenging situations arise. Self-doubts and uncertainty confront the character. She discovers strengths and struggles with shortcomings. The character becomes more and more conscious of her thoughts, feelings, actions and life as she has always known it.

A band of antagonists control the Middle: other people, nature, society, machines, and the character herself. Scenes pop above the line on the Plot Planner. The antagonists’ rhythmic waves of assault spur the protagonist’s vertical ascent. An unordinary world unfolds. A transformation begins on an inner level of the character long before anything observable appears.

Physical, psychological and spiritual crisis ensue. Greater awareness and sensitivity open up. The protagonist perceives and experiences self and the world in a new way.

Tips for Writers
You find yourself unable to drop your characters in the crucible, allow them to appear foolish, lonely, tedious, or ordinary. Until a character experiences failure, brokenness, fear, emptiness and alienation, rigorous change cannot occur.

Just as you kill your story if you are over-protective of your characters, so do you prevent yourself from growing and changing, too. Traveling the path of the writer is meant to feel like being lost, abandoned, alone and stretched beyond one’s limits.

For writers brave enough to dare the underbrush, be aware of antagonists lurking behind every tree in your own life. As you find yourself with no way out of the seemingly endless wanderings, dead-end detours, and a frustrating sense of being lost, stop and jot it on a Plot Planner. When you bargain with yourself to go back and start over again, force yourself to go deeper into the unknown. Use the Plot Planner as a guide.

Trust yourself. The quality of straightforwardness exposes themes and patterns underlying surface attitudes and actions. The better you come to know yourself, the better you will come to know your story.


Plot Tips
The character struggles to take full ownership of her newly discovered consciousness. What started as a twinge at first, in the quick build-up to the Climax, the protagonist more and more recognizes quite painfully each time her actions or speech do not align with her new understanding of herself and the world around her.

The healing of this schism shows itself in the Climax.

The Beginning sets up the scene of highest intensity in the story so far ~ the end of the Beginning. This scene shows the shift or reversal outside the character that sends her into the heart of the story world.

The middle sets up the scene of the highest intensity in the story so far ~ the Crisis. This scene shows the character’s consciousness of the shift or reversal inside her.

The End sets up the crowning glory of the entire story ~ the Climax. This scene shows the character fully united with her new self-knowledge, new understanding of the world, new sense of responsibility through her actions and her words.

Tips for Writers
Writers benefit from fostering perseverance to offset the uncertainty. Success is not always immediate or even obvious at first. Just as the characters in the story are on a journey, so are you.