27 October 2010

Marathon Plot Training for NaNoWriMo

In less than 2 hours, pre-plot the characters and events and ideas you're imagining for your NaNoWriMo writing project.

The more organized your vision, the more productive your daily writing practice is for NaNoWriMo and otherwise.

The following steps take no longer than 5 - 9 minutes each. As simple as clicking the step you want and watching a video:

STEP ONE: Character and Goal (Part 1) -- Dramatic Action Plot

STEP TWO: Character Flaw -- Character Emotional Development Plot

STEP THREE: Setting -- Part 1: (Beginning 1/4) -- Ordinary World

STEP FOUR: Setting -- Part 2: (Middle 1/2) -- Extraordinary, Exotic, Unusual World

STEP FIVE: Three Major Plot Threads -- Character Emotional Development Plot, Dramatic Action Plot, Thematic Significance Plot + Romance Plot

STEP SIX: Secondary and Sub-plots

STEP SEVEN: Climax (Part 1) -- The End

STEP EIGHT: Climax (Part 2) -- The End

STEP NINE: Energy Anatomy of Stories -- Plot at the Overall Story Level

STEP TEN: Plot the Beginning

STEP ELEVEN: Turning Points

STEP TWELVE: Goal (Part 2) The Middle -- Dramatic Action Plot

STEP THIRTEEN: Antagonists for Protagonist and for the Writer


Give yourself the gift of writing next month and show up everyday.

19 October 2010

Turning Points

Turning points keep your story moving in surprising and organic directions to more fully engage the reader and audience and satisfy universal expectations.

I spoke about Turning Points in Step #11 of the wacky Plot Series posted on YouTube. 

I move with less resistance and greater joy if I follow the energy. The energy has taken me to presenting the information caught on the video camera rather than post the words here. 

So, rather than read plot tips, stop by and watch them.

The steps are presented in an organized format from Step One to Step Thirty-Two. We film Step 12 tomorrow.

Feel free to randomly click on any video. The 5 to 8 minute presentation will leave you energizes and with a new sensibility of your story.

This is all new to me. Hope you'll follow me into the great unknown...

Plot Series: How Do I Plot a Novel, Memoir, Screenplay?

12 October 2010

Resistance and Writing

Saturday's plot workshop reminded me of how powerful writers' resistance is. I had forgotten.

The group was intimate and our time short. Plot in 5 hours working through lunch. I know from experience that all plot workshops build to a crisis point in the form of overwhelm generally expressed by the highly creative, big picture writers. Either the linear, detail oriented writers aren't as overtly demonstrative as the other group or the plot techniques of standing back to arrange the scenes of a story in a linear form are not as daunting for them.

A writer I had warned (foreshadowed) that he'd come to hate me, declared it so at the beginning of the 4th hour. At around the same time, another writer stood up. First her face crumbled, then she fell apart. I won't go into the details here but before long she reclaimed her authority over herself and the first writer assured me he was only kidding.

I'm grateful for the wake-up call. I had done what I promised myself I would never do. I lost touch with how it feels to be convinced I'd never understand plot. My mission is not to rob you of your power but to empower you. It took me nearly 12 years to learn what I was trying to teach in 5 hours on Saturday. What can I say? I'm a concrete learner. People like me weren't teaching plot with pictures when I was learning to write. 

It's different now. Plot is the cool thing. I'm glad.

But, I never want to forget knowing the part resistance plays in interfering with forward progress. 

Both writers came into the workshop knowing exactly what part of their story was not working. The first writer had been told his beginning didn't work by very important gatekeepers in the trade. The second writer knew her crisis wasn't quite right.

They understood they needed to fix something in their story on an intellectual level. The knowing had not traveled deeply enough, making it impossible for either one of them to give up what they had written. First came denial. Then anger. Finally, I believe and hope, they left with concrete "fixes" though, I fear, work is left to be done before either one of them come to a place of true acceptance. 

My question is: how do we so easily take ownership and control over the creative process? When does that happen? At first, it's a marvel, a miracle, a delight when words flood out of us from some unknown and sacred place. 

The story comes through us. Our job is to present what comes in a pleasing form to the reader and audience. That takes setting ourselves aside and opening our minds for the greatest good of the story. 

05 October 2010

Santa Cruz Traveling Mystery Tour

Win a free one-hour plot consultation! 

Correctly identify all 32 Santa Cruz iconic landmarks used as the backdrop in the filming of the Santa Cruz Traveling Mystery Tour


· Locals win an overnight stay at the Darling House in Santa Cruz on Valentine’s Day

· Out-of-towners win a 1-hour phone consultation with family expert Cathy Jo Cresss on sibling reconciliation and forgiveness and a 1-hour writer's plot phone consultation with plot expert to the stars Martha Alderson, aka the Plot Whisperer

More than 144 billion videos were viewed on YouTube last year. The number is expected to more than double this year.

My cohort on the Santa Cruz Traveling Mystery Tour is Cathy Jo Cress, author of the just released Mom Loves You Best; Forgiving and Forging Sibling Relationships. She and I recently harnessed the power of YouTube, by launching our own individual channels that highlight local attractions on the Santa Cruz Traveling Mystery Tour. 

In the Plot Series, How Do I Plot a Novel, Memoir, Screenplay?, I take writers through the process of plotting out a story. Cathy's videos show how sibling relationships affect our lives and how to fix them in her Mom Loves You Best series.

Together we have planned a 32-step series to be filmed at famed Santa Cruz landmarks.

We began our YouTube series by filming near the renowned surfing spot the HOOK in Pleasure Point. We moved to the Yacht Harbor where we filmed each other sharing tips in our individual areas of expertise.

32 unique, beautiful, literary and historic locations in Santa Cruz County, such as the Surfer Statue, Mystery Spot, Natural Bridges, in front of Town Clock, Tom Scribner statue on the mall in front of Bookshop SC, the whale Marine Lab and the one by SC Museum, UCSC viewpoint with the whole bay on view, Cement Boat view, SC Library with Alfred Hitchcock birds statue/sculpture to name a few, serve as backdrops for our productions from now until January 31, 2011.

Correctly identify all 32 locations and be eligible for a drawing for a free night at the Darling House on February 14, 2011

Visit either or both YouTube channels to spot the Santa Cruz landmark that serves as the backdrop for each video. A new video (or 2) comes out every week.

Plot Series, How Do I Plot a Novel, Memoir, Screenplay?

I deeply appreciate any help you can offer in getting the word out about the Plot Series. Please feel free to pass along the link to your writing buddies interested in pre-plotting for NaNoWriMo or simply eager to start a new story. I'm out to impress a national publishing house interested in picking up my best-selling self-published Blockbuster Plots Pure & Simple. Cathy is promoting the launch of her new book. 

02 October 2010

The End is the Beginning

A plot consultation this week reveals to the writer that the scene sequence she believed was rising to the Crisis rather represents the Halfway Point... perfectly.

Undoubtedly she was disappointed to find she is only halfway through writing the 1st draft of her story rather than 3/4 finished. Still, she knew the story needed the additional page count and by the time we hung up she sounded enthusiastic and empowered to write her way to the Crisis.

Thanks to my background with working with children with learning disabilities (and my own), I appreciate the process of learning new material and find helpful explaining new concepts in as many different ways as I can think of at the time.

The idea of putting her main character in the sort of peril her story demands at the Crisis took to time to penetrate her consciousness on a practical level. She knew intellectually what the Crisis represents to a story. She even had an example in her head of the exact moment in a favorite book of hers. However, to actually bring the concept of the Crisis down to the actual moment-by-moment action necessary to bring the protagonist to her knees and die to her old personality took time.

The writer knows her Climax which I always view as helpful to a writer because the Climax informs all the other parts of the story.

With the Climax fixed in her mind and the scenes waiting to be written to the Crisis and her commitment to herself to a timeframe, she's off and writing...

For more on the Climax and what to keep in mind as your write your way there, view Steps 7 & Step 8 of the Plot Series: How do I Plot a Novel, Memoir, Screenplay?

For information on the contest we're running with the series (I'm doing it with fellow writer -- 
Cathy Cress who has a terrific new book out: Mom Loves You Best; Forgiving and Forging New Sibling Relationships): go to Santa Cruz Traveling Mystery Tour.