22 July 2007

The Payoff

Readers turn the pages based on their interest in the characters or the excitement caused by the dramatic action or both. The Middle goes on for quite awhile (1/2 of the entire project), and sure, there is lots of conflict, tension, suspense to keep the reader reading, but all those scenes are building to something and that something is the payoff ~~ the Crisis (about 3/4 of the way through the entire book).

It's like climbing a hill. We keep hiking for lots of different reasons, but in the end we're hoping to get to the top = the payoff. In the case of a story, the Crisis is getting to the top. Except, the reader and the character reaches the top only to realize they're only part way there, that another peak awaits them ~~ the Climax ~~ the ulimate payoff for the reader, the crowning glory of the entire project.

Analyzing other books similar to your genre helps writers begin to "feel" the energetic flow of the story and better helps you apply the principles to your own work. Plus, you'll find lots of great hints and tips and ideas when you are reading as a writer, not just a reader.

13 July 2007

Take the Plot Test based on Theme

You've written some stuff. You feel good about your characters, you've got some action, but what drives your energy for showing up is exploring the deeper meaning of life.

Start with an unusual setting and some "different" characters.

Set the time.

Figure out your obsession.
Say it's with finding out who you really are, your own unique identity (insert your obsession). Generate scenes with that in mind ~~ the character's interaction with others, trying to figure out her place in the world ~~ that's better ~~ a universal theme for kids and all of us...

As you write, look for clues to finish the theme to make it thematically significant: how DOES one figure out his place in the world? Through trial and error? Okay. And so what, really, does that mean overall? Finding one's place in the world takes trial and error, but in the end....

The anwer to the ...above must be worthy enough for you to give up hours of your life to write, worthwhile to the character to go through the struggle of a journey, worthwhile for the reader to give up hours of her time to read your story?

Picture books, because they push away subplots, make the concept of plot is easier to grasp.

Take, for instance, Where the Wild Things Are by Sendax.

What is it? 34 pages? Many of which are drawings. I can't remember and I'm not going to get up and check, but lets say there are 17 pages of written language.

Beginning: 1/4 of entire project introduces characters while showing where and when the story takes place, and demonstrating a major character flawy that will help drive the action of the story (go to:
http://www.blockbusterplots.com/character-development.html for the character Plot profile info.).

In the Beginning of Where the Wild Things Are we meet Max, the cat and the mom. Max shows his wild side and drives everyone crazy.

End of Beginning: a scene signifying no turning back, entering the heart of the journey toward transformation
At the end of the Beginning of Where the Wild Things Are, Max is sent to his room with no dinner and there he watches his room turn into a forest or is it a jungle?

The Middle: 1/2 of the page count showing trials and errors, antagonists. Whateve keeps the conflict, tension, suspense or curiosity of the audience high.
Where the Wild Things Are ~~ journey to Wild Things, conquering wild things

Middle of the Middle: Showing an unsual world
Where the Wild Things Are ~~ shows 4 or more pages of covered with pictures demonstrating wildness

Crisis: Middle builds toward the 3/4 mark and the biggest scene of all
Crisis is a scene forcing the character to a new awareness.
Anything energetically higher than anything that has come before
Where the Wild Things Are ~~Max has everything, but he is lonely for love.

The End: Lots of significance toward the Climax.
Where the Wild Things Are ~~ journey home.

Cimax: The character "showing" the transformation
Where the Wild Things Are ~~ settles down to eat his dinner

One page of Resolution ~ his new life from then on
Where the Wild Things Are ~~ and his dinner is hot.

Of course for a novel, or screenplay, or historical you'd have lots of sub-plots that follow their own template as described above, but at a sub-level ~~ they are sub-plots, afterall.

05 July 2007

Creating Plot

Plot is as much about timing as it is the dramatic action and the transformation the character undergoes.

To satisfy your readers, placement and timing of each scene becomes critical.

Spend too many words, pages, time in the beginning of the piece increases your chances of losing your reader right off the bat. Readers want to be grounded, understand who is who, and what is what, and then the reader demands something big happen ~~ the End of the Beginnning.

The balance between back story and front story, between internal dialog and overt action, between character development and action is delicate and must always be kept in mind.

Just because the story comes out onto the page in a certain order, does not mean that's where the scene or summary or narration will stay.

How the act of creation happens is mysterious and magical.

Placement and timing is under the author's control and is part of the craft of writing.