Today begins a month-long opportunity to refine the plot arc of your novel, memoir, and screenplay.
If you participated in NaNoWriMo 2012, congratulations. You've done what many people talk and dream of doing -- you have written an entire story from beginning to end.
If you recently resurrected a writing project you let languish for years, congratulations for believing again in your dreams.
Everyday this month, stand back from your words to see the bigger picture of your story through the Universal Story. Analyze what you've written and brainstorm for an effortless rewrite in January '13. (This also works for writers without a first draft. Whether you merely have an idea for a story, a few chapters or scenes, just tweak the assignments to make them work for wherever you are in the process.)
No writing required.
Following are a few caveats for our month together:
1) Do NOT show anyone what you've written so far. The first draft of any writing project is considered the generative phase. At the end of the generative phase, you often hold a manuscript full of holes and missteps, confusion and chaos. This is part of the process in that editing and/or an unbridled internal critic in the generative phase risks stifling the muse, which often results in stagnation.
Your first draft is a fragile thread of a dream. You know what you want to convey, well, maybe and sort of. Few writers can adequately communicate a complete vision in the first draft of a story, especially when writing by the seat of your pants. Allow others to read your writing now and you risk losing energy for your story and becoming overwhelmed by the task ahead of you.
2) Do NOT read what you've written. I know, I know. You're anxious to read your hard work. However, the longer you give yourself before actually reading your first draft, the better. If you read your manuscript now, you're still close enough to the work that you'll automatically fill in the gaps. Give yourself distance first. This allows you to read your work more objectively later.
3) Believe that the plot problems you may confront during December can be solved.
Let's get started!
By now, you know who the protagonist of your story is. Stories are about character transformation. Women often write stories with multiple characters, all of whom are changed in one degree or another by the dramatic action in the story. The character who is most transformed by the dramatic action in your story is your protagonist.
Fill out the following for your protagonist. (If you've filled out a character profile(s) previously, do not refer back to that version. Start fresh and then compare.) If you have written a story with multiple viewpoint characters or strong secondary characters fill out the following for those characters as well. If the major antagonist(s) in your story is a person, fill out the following for that character, too. (If you filled out this profile(s) at an earlier point in your writing, do it again now without referring to the earlier form(s))
CHARACTER EMOTIONAL DEVELOPMENT PROFILE
Dramatic Action Plot
Overall story goal:
What stands in her way:
What does she stand to lose:
Character Emotional Development Plot
Good luck! And remember, as tempting as it is, do NOT read your first draft. That will come later. For now, use what you know about your characters to fill out the form.
****Play along in the PlotWriMo Contest and win your choice of plot books in the Plot Whisperer series****
The Plot Whisperer Book of Writing Prompts: Easy Exercises to Get You Writing. Available for pre-order now. Ships 12/12.
To familiarize yourself with the Universal Story and the basic plot terms we'll be using throughout December:
1) Watch the plot playlists on the Plot Whisperer Youtube channel.
2) Read The Plot Whisperer: Secrets of Story Structure Any Writer Can Master
3) Fill out the exercises in The Plot Whisperer Workbook: Step-by-Step Exercises to Help You Create Compelling Stories
Blockbuster Plots for Writers
Plot Whisperer on Twitter