27 March 2013

Plot for Memoir Writers

Q: Memoir writers think they know the plot because they already know “what happened.” Can you talk about this issue a bit—is that way of thinking useful or should they revise their attitude toward plot.

A: Plot embodies quite a bit more than more than just what happens in the memoir or a sum of the events.

Plot is how the events in the story of your life directly impact the main character or the protagonist, in other words, you.

Always, in the best-written memoirs, the protagonist is emotionally affected by the events of the story. In great memoirs, the dramatic action transforms the protagonist. This transformation makes a story meaningful.

Keep in mind that, yes, you lived the story and the story comes through you. However, when you decide to write that story down, you turn from the one who experienced the events to that of a writer. Your job, then, is to present what you have lived in a pleasing and meaningful form to the reader. This takes setting yourself aside and means opening your mind to receive the greatest good of the story.

*****

Knowing what to write where in a story with a plot allows for a more loving relationship with your writing. Whether writing a first draft or revising, if you falter wondering what comes next in a story with a plot, follow the prompts inThe Plot Whisperer Book of Writing Prompts: Easy Exercises to Get You Writing

Today, I write.

To familiarize yourself with the basic plot terms used here and in the PW Book of Prompts:

1) Watch the plot playlists on the Plot Whisperer Youtube channel.


4) Visit:

25 March 2013

Why Bother Grasping Plot Concepts?

Q: Writers grow a little pale when thinking about plot. They feel constrained about the idea of thinking about plot, they don’t quite understand what it is and why it’s important. So my first question is to have you define plot, and tell us why a writer needs to understand why they need to grasp the concepts and skills of plot for their novel, memoir, screenplay.

A: Let me begin by saying that plot and structure are not constraining. Plot and structure actually give a writer the form and function for her story and then leave everything else up to her.

In The Plot Whisperer: Secrets of Story Structure Any Writer Can Master, I cover in great detail the benefits of identifying your weaknesses and strengths as a writer and how to determine if you have more of a preference for right brain functions versus left brain dominance or are more balanced between the two.

Don’t get me wrong; the book is not a guide to the brain. It is a book about plotting that also functions as a spiritual or an emotional guide to writing. Writing is emotional. You face obstacles that unleash angst, which leads to procrastination. My intention in shining a light on how the two hemispheres of the brain affect your writing is to allow you to acknowledge and face the difficulties you encounter, difficulties that are reflections of your strengths and weaknesses. In self-knowledge comes the courage to compensate for your weaknesses and the ability to rely on your strengths.

In every story something happens (dramatic action plot) to change or transform the protagonist (character emotional plot) overtime and in a meaningful way (thematic significance plot).

Whether you understand that as a big picture concept or as a linear, scene-by-scene idea depends heavily on your strengths and weaknesses as a writer.

*****

Knowing what to write where in a story with a plot allows for a more loving relationship with your writing. Whether writing a first draft or revising, if you falter wondering what comes next in a story with a plot, follow the prompts inThe Plot Whisperer Book of Writing Prompts: Easy Exercises to Get You Writing

Today, I write.

To familiarize yourself with the basic plot terms used here and in the PW Book of Prompts:

1) Watch the plot playlists on the Plot Whisperer Youtube channel.

4) Visit:

21 March 2013

Goals for You and for Your Characters

Successful writers establish long-term writing goals for themselves and long-term story goals for their protagonists and then set out to complete a series of short-term goals they believe will move them and their characters toward those final goals.

Goal setting is not always as simple as it sounds. In teaching plot and from the plot consulting work with writers all over the world, I have found that self-professed “pansters” balk at setting goals for both their protagonists and themselves. If you are a writer who likes to write by the seat of your pants with little pre-plotting or planning, you likely have no difficulty in seeing the big picture of your story but may find yourself breaking down when it comes to filling in the steps how to get there. However, just because the task proves difficult for you is not to say that you are off the goal-setting hook.

Plot Your Protagonist’s Goals
Goals provide motivation. Obstacles create tension. Potential loss promises transformation. Concrete goals with formidable obstacles and significant potential loss create the dramatic action plot of your novel, memoir, and screenplay. Stated goals stimulate excitement and page-turnability to your story. The dramatic action the protagonist takes to fulfill her goals forces her to stretch and grow and change toward her ultimate transformation.

A general and abstract long-term goal: "to be happy" leads to a vague and meandering story. Instead, be specific. What does the protagonist of your story believe she needs (goal) to make her happy?

A specific and tangible long-term goal provides specific action the character will take to achieve her goal.

The long-term goal needs to be tangible and quantifiable. In other words, the reader or movie-goer must be able to determine in each scene when the character is moving nearer to her goal and when she is drifting further away.

Setting goals for your protagonist goal demands a clear vision of what the protagonist desires on a concrete, attainable, specific and quantifiable basis. These goals much be within the protagonist's capabilities of achieving (of course you will develop all sorts of antagonists, both internal and external, to interfere with her success). However, the more well-defined the protagonist's goal at the overall story level and scene-by-scene the more grounded the reader in the story as she knows what is at stake and has a vague idea of the direction in which the story is moving. Often, the protagonist’s goals change or shift after the major turning points in your story. The more challenging the goal makes for a more exciting the story. A goal gets the character moving. A goal gets the story moving, too.

Give the protagonist something to do she believes she in incapable of doing but must do for the good of not only herself but for the good of her family and community at large.

Start the Story with a Dramatic Question
Is she going to succeed at accomplishing her goal…. or not? Will he succeed.... or not? Send the protagonist on her way by giving her specific short-term steps necessary to answer the question – dramatic action plot. Let her actions define her – character emotional development plot. A concrete goal gives protagonist action so the reader can react to what the character does rather than merely follow her internal monologue.

Plot Your Writing Goals

1) Whether your goal is to finish the first draft of your novel, memoir or screenplay or write the final draft or submit the completed manuscript to an agent, decide on a deadline to reach that long-term writing goal.

2) On your day planner, mark a big red X on your deadline day and write in your concrete long-term goal. Example: by June 21st, I hold in my hands the completed first draft of my manuscript (NOTE: best if the goal is written in present tense. The mystics say time is non-linear. If that's true, it means your goal has already been accomplished and you only need catch up in real time.)

3) Work backwards on the calendar. Count the number of days between today and your deadline that you can realistically write. (Do not count the holidays that you do not believe you can/will write or any weekends or other days not available for your writing)

4) Ask yourself how many words, pages you normally write in a day.

5) Estimate how many pages in your entire first draft.

6) Where are you now?

7) How many pages left?

8) Calculate how many days total needed to write the pages left at the rate you currently write. ( In other words, divide the total number of pages left to write by how many pages you plan to write each day will give you the total number of days needed to accomplish your long-term goal.)

9) Subtract the number of total days needed from the total number of days between now and your deadline.

10) Mark a daily writing schedule in on your calendar in pen. The concrete task of scheduling times and goals for each writing day makes you more realistic about your writing goals, allows you to visualize your writing life in relationship to the whole of your life and gives you realistic short-term goals necessary to achieve your long term goal. An added bonus in creating goals for yourself makes you better at creating concrete goals for the protagonist and other characters in your story.

SPECIAL EVENTS:
1) Feature Article:
Emotional Elements of Plot
Showing how a character feels fuses the relationship between characters and the audience or reader. Showing how the character transforms delivers on the promise of your story. Learn the difference. Plot tips how and where to develop transformational emotional maturity. Read the entire article:

Knowing what to write where in a story with a plot allows for a more loving relationship with your writing. Whether writing a first draft or revising, if you falter wondering what comes next in a story with a plot, follow the prompts in The Plot Whisperer Book of Writing Prompts: Easy Exercises to Get You Writing

Today, I write.

To familiarize yourself with the basic plot terms used here and in the PW Book of Prompts:
1) Watch the plot playlists on the Plot Whisperer Youtube channel.
4) Visit:

15 March 2013

Character Consistency

Not much into developing character?
Confused about what exactly is your character's flaw?

Plot Tip:
Explore your list of scenes in the beginning quarter of your story.

In Scene #2, your protagonist gives up easily and runs away. Where else in the beginning scenes does she give up? In Scene #5 she run away from her problems again. This time, when she stops running, she refuses to give up and determinedly devises up a plan.

At this point, ask yourself what depletes your protagonist of her power and what fills her with energy? You determine that her actions in these two scenes, though they advance the dramatic action plot, show inconsistent character emotional development in seesawing back and forth between giving up and taking charge.

In Scene #8, her actions show her to be emotionally immature. We understand she does not have the emotional steadiness because she refuses to buy into the prevailing belief system around her. A character willing to defy convention based purely on passion and conviction has the makings of a hero and further demands consistency in how her character emotional development is introduced in the first quarter of the story of plot.

With careful plotting, a few scenes later, her first true act of rebellion leads to the End of the Beginning scene.

SPECIAL EVENTS:
1) Plot Whisperer and Literary Agent Virtual Workshop
10-Hour Workshop to hone your plot, shape your concept and perfect your voice and write with goal of readying your work for today's market.

2) How to Get Moving on Your Work in Progress: A Review of The Plot Whisperer Book of Writing Prompts by Sue Bradford Edwards on WOW! Women on WritingEnter to win in the 5-Book-Giveaway for The Plot Whisperer Book of Writing Prompts: Easy Exercises to Get You Writing

Knowing what to write where in a story with a plot allows for a more loving relationship with your writing. Whether writing a first draft or revising, if you falter wondering what comes next in a story with a plot, follow the prompts in The Plot Whisperer Book of Writing Prompts: Easy Exercises to Get You Writing

3) Feature Article:
Emotional Elements of Plot
Showing how a character feels fuses the relationship between characters and the audience or reader. Showing how the character transforms delivers on the promise of your story. Learn the difference. Plot tips how and where to develop transformational emotional maturity. Read the entire article:
http://www.scriptmag.com/features/emotional-elements-of-plot.

Today, I write.

To familiarize yourself with the basic plot terms used here and in the PW Book of Prompts:
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
4) Visit:
Blockbuster Plots for Writers
Plot Whisperer on Facebook

Plot Whisperer on Twitter

13 March 2013

Dramatic Action or Character Emotional Development?

Today's plot phone consultation reveals yet again how writers show a preference either for writing about characters over dramatic action or writing about dramatic action over character emotional development.

The case in point becomes obvious when I consider what I remember about her story from a 15 minute plot consultation earlier in the year. Back then, the concept of her story qualified as "high concept", the exotic world intriguing and thought-provoking, the journey exciting and full of conflict and tension and action packed.

I did not remember much about the protagonist other than she was tough and a rebel and likable. I remembered absolutely nothing about the second viewpoint character and even that there was a second viewpoint character.

During the consultation, this division between the development of the character and the action becomes even more obvious. Thanks to the writer's strength in developing the dramatic action plot and the exotic world, she can leave those go for now and concentrate on what could very well be her weakness (generally we shy away from tasks we don't feel we're very good at and gravitate towards those activities we feel we can excel at): character emotional development.

Good news is she's got a terrific story and the work she does with the characters and the theme have the potential to make her story truly great.

What's your preference? Writing about external dramatic action? Writing about character emotional development?

SPECIAL EVENTS:
1) Read How to Get Moving on Your Work in Progress: A Review of The Plot Whisperer Book of Writing Prompts by Sue Bradford Edwards on WOW! Women on Writing and enter to win in the 5-Book-Giveaway for The Plot Whisperer Book of Writing Prompts: Easy Exercises to Get You Writing

Knowing what to write where in a story with a plot allows for a more loving relationship with your writing. Whether writing a first draft or revising, if you falter wondering what comes next in a story with a plot, follow the prompts in The Plot Whisperer Book of Writing Prompts: Easy Exercises to Get You Writing

2) Feature Article:
Emotional Elements of Plot
Showing how a character feels fuses the relationship between characters and the audience or reader. Showing how the character transforms delivers on the promise of your story. Learn the difference. Plot tips how and where to develop transformational emotional maturity. Read the entire article:
http://www.scriptmag.com/features/emotional-elements-of-plot .

Today, I write.

To familiarize yourself with the basic plot terms used here and in the PW Book of Prompts:
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
4) Visit:
Blockbuster Plots for Writers
Plot Whisperer on Facebook

Plot Whisperer on Twitter

06 March 2013

PW Book of Writing Prompts Review and Giveaway

Read How to Get Moving on Your Work in Progress: A Review of The Plot Whisperer Book of Writing Prompts by Sue Bradford Edwards on WOW! Women on Writing.

While you're at WOW! Women on Writing, enter to win in the 5-Book-Giveaway for The Plot Whisperer Book of Writing Prompts: Easy Exercises to Get You Writing

NOTE: still time to join me virtually today to Track Your Plot at the Scene Level, a Plot Webinar hosted by the Writers Store at 1pm Pacific.

SPECIAL EVENTS:
1) Feature Article:
Emotional Elements of Plot
Showing how a character feels fuses the relationship between characters and the audience or reader. Showing how the character transforms delivers on the promise of your story. Learn the difference. Plot tips how and where to develop transformational emotional maturity. Read the entire article:
http://www.scriptmag.com/features/emotional-elements-of-plot


2) Plot Webinar: 
Join me virtually on March 6th to Track Your Plot at the Scene Level, webinar hosted by the Writers Store.

Knowing what to write where in a story with a plot allows for a more loving relationship with your writing. Whether writing a first draft or revising, if you falter wondering what comes next in a story with a plot, follow the prompts in The Plot Whisperer Book of Writing Prompts: Easy Exercises to Get You Writing.

Today, I write.

To familiarize yourself with the basic plot terms used here and in the PW Book of Prompts:
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
4) Visit:
Blockbuster Plots for Writers
Plot Whisperer on Facebook

Plot Whisperer on Twitter

04 March 2013

Better Writer or Storyteller?

Results of writing survey at Plot Whisperer page on Facebook asking:

Are you a better writer than storyteller?
Storyteller than writer?
Great at both?

The majority of writers indicate they feel themselves better writers than storyteller. Many writers who answered thus bemoaned that they aren't better storytellers. "When I read books, I think to myself -- how can I ever get this amount of words and intricate ideas onto paper," writes one writer. Another writer wrote, "better writer...sigh."

One writer points out the "difficulty about the question is that we can't objectively judge" the quality of our writing style -- "the only real test is to be read," and now in the digital age "we can begin to have some idea of whether we can really communicate a good story."

Oral storytelling came up with a couple of writers though the intent of the survey was to assess your strength between the two written acts.

A writer points to what she sees as a "large group of writers who think "good writing" is all about style and that story is separate."

So, let me ask you:

Are you a better writer than storyteller?
Storyteller than writer?
Great at both?

Answer on:
Plot Whisperer on Facebook
Plot Whisperer on Twitter

SPECIAL EVENTS:
1) Feature Article:
Emotional Elements of Plot
Showing how a character feels fuses the relationship between characters and the audience or reader. Showing how the character transforms delivers on the promise of your story. Learn the difference. Plot tips how and where to develop transformational emotional maturity. Read the entire article:
http://www.scriptmag.com/features/emotional-elements-of-plot


2) Plot Webinar: 
Join me virtually on March 6th to Track Your Plot at the Scene Level, webinar hosted by the Writers Store.

Knowing what to write where in a story with a plot allows for a more loving relationship with your writing. Whether writing a first draft or revising, if you falter wondering what comes next in a story with a plot, follow the prompts in The Plot Whisperer Book of Writing Prompts: Easy Exercises to Get You Writing.

Today, I write.

To familiarize yourself with the basic plot terms used here and in the PW Book of Prompts:
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
4) Visit:
Blockbuster Plots for Writers
Plot Whisperer on Facebook

Plot Whisperer on Twitter