27 November 2009
19 November 2009
- Pre-plot new story
- Plot revision of NaNoWriMo
- Final test plot before send-off
The Middle of a novel, memoir, screenplay encompasses a whooping 1/2 of the scene and page count of the entire story. More writers lose their nerve in the middle of the Middle than in any other spot of the writing process.
Two ways out:
1) Develop a list of all the antagonists that will interfere with the protagonist reaching both her long and short-term goals. (For a list of antagonists, go to: Dramatic Action Plotline.) Once you have the list in place, you'll likely find the need to introduce some of the elements earlier. CAUTION: do not go back and do it now. Make notes to yourself and attend to them in the next rewrite.
2) Develop the exotic, unusual world of the Middle. Once the protagonist moves from the Beginning into the Middle she usually enters a new world -- at least new to her. Let us see, smell, taste, feel, hear that world with the use of authentic details.
Links for more on both the exotic world and the use of antagonists:
First Draft versus Rewrites
Writers Travel Two Journeys
Meaning of Crisis and Climax
17 November 2009
In my previous blog post, I ranted about plot getting a bad rap. The day after, I consult with a writer who cares only for plot (or, since I believe character transformation is critical to plot, rather the dramatic action side of plot.) This writer states his preference right up front when he declares that he doesn't know how the character changes (Character Emotional Development) or what the story means over all (Thematic Significance). Further, he informs me, he doesn't care about that. All he wants is an action-packed story that will sell. (mass-market airport book as described by yesterday's writer)
Hmmmmm, I know there are writers of mystery and suspense who are quite successful without doing much to develop the character. But, it seems odd to me to think of a character going through all she does and not be affected by the dramatic action on some level -- perhaps not to a level of transformation but at least change. And, at the end of a long, exciting read, why not leave the reader with something to think about?
Oh, well, those are my ideals.
I'm here to support writers in their quest to follow their dreams. Not to judge. At least, not too harshly, but to help writers develop their stories.
When I have a spare moment -- yeah, right!-- I plan to do a survey of writers and ask what is their preference for writing Character-driven versus Action-driven stories AND which do they prefer reading?? Stay tuned....
14 November 2009
First off, I've never known anyone who would pass up the chance to write a mass market blockbuster novel sold at airports. It's much more of an accomplishment than the writer gives it credit for. Much harder than she thinks.
Wait a minute. Slow down.... Me being defensive doesn't serve the writer well.
What she is truly saying is the Dramatic Action plot is easier for her to create than the Character Emotional Development plot.
She's approaching the time in the story when she has to peel back another layer of the protagonist. Get closer, go deeper, find the internal motivational stuff behind the character's actions.
Actions = external.
Motivation = internal.
Some writers prefer one over the other.
I say: be thankful you have a strong front story (dramatic action, plotted) in place filled with conflict and suspense. Use that as the base for the rest of the story.
You want to develop an important narrative voice.
Okay, write the mass market plotted draft first.
Think of what you are doing as a layering.
Get the first layer down = dramatic action easiest for you.
Ask yourself constantly:
- Why is the character doing what he's doing = motivation.
- Have him set goals that he hopes will take him closer to his big , overall story goal.
Finished first draft allows for the next layer to go on.
12 November 2009
09 November 2009
Whether you like to work out the elements of your story on the page or are a pre-plotter, everyone benefits from a bit of periodic organization.
See how many of the key scenes you can identify in the story you're imagining, writing, or perfecting:
1) Set-up: The set-up you create in the Beginning makes the journey the protagonist undertakes in the Middle feel inevitable.
2) Inciting Incident: A moment, conflict, dilemma, loss, fear, etc. that forces the protagonist to take immediate action.
3) End of the Beginning: The protagonist's goal shifts or takes on greater meaning and turns the story in a new direction, launching the character into the actual story world itself.
4) Halfway Point: The moment the protagonist consciously makes a total commitment to achieving her goal and does something that signifies she has burned all bridges back and thus can only go forward.
05 November 2009
2) Until you write the end, you do not have a clear grasp of what comes earlier.
3) You accomplish what you set out to do.
4) Once you have a skeleton in place, a writer is able to stand back and "see" her story in an entirely new light
5) One of the greatest benefits of writing a truly awful, lousy 1st draft is that it's all up from there...
For more on the benefits of writing a truly awful, completely lousy 1st draft:
The End Is the Beginning
First Draft Twitters
First Draft versus Rewrites
First Draft Blues
02 November 2009
Characters grow and change based on the Dramatic Action they experience during the story. If the action is simply action with no conflict, tension, or suspense, the story does not move and the character does not grow.
In today's consultation, the writer has a tagline that is so snappy and compelling, it could sell the project alone. I was excited to hear more about his character who, based on the Character Emotional Development Profile, fits my favorite definition of a great protagonist = a strong, flawed character unafraid of taking big risks and willing to show a bit of a dark side (This writer's protagonist hasn't shown the dark side yet. When we plot out the 2nd half of the project, I'll be curious to find out whether a dark side emerges... or not.)
The plot for his project works, but the execution scene-by-scene falls short. Too many scenes fall "below the line." The potential for popping them above the line is terrific so long as when he writes the next draft, the writer focuses on writing the scenes from this new point of view = creating conflict, tension, and suspense and /or curiosity in every single scene. Well... I exaggerate. A story benefits from quieter scenes, too, but even those "below the line scenes" create more intensity and depth if they have a pallor of tension, a hint of conflict, a whisper of overarching suspense (Gawd, I can tell I'm tired...).
For more Plot Tips on creating scenes above and below the line, go to:
International-Plot-Writing-Month-Day_26 (NOTE: this is a day from last year's International Plot Writing Month that takes place in December and is designed to support writers who are in the process of creating the rough draft of their stories now in NaNoWriMo)
Elements of Plot
Plot & Subplots
Character Development and Dramatic Action
(NOTE: For more articles about creating conflict, tension, and suspense, go to the top, right corner of this webpage and in the white, rectangular box write tag words for what you're interested learning more.)
(NOTE: Another critical element of a good plot that reveals itself on a Plot Planner is Cause and Effect. For a simplistic definition, visit my Twitter.