30 November 2008


What: Craft a draft of your work into a novel, memoir, screenplay in a month’s time.

Who: Anyone who has written a draft of a novel, memoir, or screenplay and is now ready to craft the project into a coherent piece worthy of publication.

Why: The first draft of any writing project is considered the generative phase. The muse is often responsible for much of the generative phase. The writer acts as a conduit and allows the inspiration to come through onto the page. The generative phase is all about getting the words on the page.

At the end of the generative phase, a writer is often faced with a manuscript full of holes and missteps, confusion and chaos. This is part of the process in that editing in the generative phase risks stifling the muse, which often results in stagnation.

When a writer completes the generative phase the real work begins—crafting the words into a coherent story. This is where International Plot Writing Month comes into play.

Many writers, when left with pages and pages of words, are often at a loss as to how to take their writing to the next level. Rather than shove the words about on the page, join the Plot Whisperer as she takes you through the process of crafting what you have into a viable story.

When: International Plot Writing Month begins December 1st. Visit: http://plotwhisperer.blogspot.com/ daily throughout December for step-by-step guidance to prepare your manuscript for draft two.

Where: Plot Whisperer blog: http://plotwhisperer.blogspot.com/

26 November 2008

December: International Plot Writing Month

Have a draft of your book? Wondering, now what?

Follow me here everyday for tips and tricks and inspiration beginning Dec. 1st.

No writing required.

It's a time to analyze what you have and brainstorm for an effortless draft two in January '09.

17 November 2008

Plot Tips for NaNoWriMo Writers

30 days hath November.

I fear pulling out my tricky little formula for determining the parameters of your story. Before you groan in disgust, I know, I know. Horrors that I deem it necessary to reduce the creative process to a mathematical equation. Hey, I'm just trying to help. You want to get to the end of the month with some semblence of a story, don't you? I don't expect those natural born story tellers would visit this site anyway. But, for you writers who are looking for tricks and tips to keep you on track during your month-long journey toward completing your novel or memoir or whatever, try this.

According the 1/4, 1/2, 1/4 rule for the Beginning, Middle and End respectively, you left the Beginning (1/4) of your story around the 7th or 8th of the month. By now, you are deep in the Middle of the story world itself.

In about 5 days or so you'll reach the highest point in your story so far -- the Crisis (3/4 give or take). Therefore, you are smack dab in the middle of or quickly approaching the quicksand of the territory of the antagonists.

Identify what the protagonist is after, wants, desires, is fighting for. Use as many antagonists as you want to interfere with her achieving her goals and to build tension. When we are under the most strain and stress and conflict do we reveal who we really are. Same with your characters.

Adversity does not build character.
Adversity reveals character.

Get the energy of the story moving higher. If you've fallen in love with your characters and are resistant to place them in danger, think again. You're creating a story, not hanging out with your best friend. No one said this was going to be easy. Amp up the tension. Get out of her head and into scene. Show us emotion.

Show us who the character really is. Get her moving toward the Crisis -- a breakdown, dark night of the soul, or the Climax of the antagonist. Make it exciting.

No matter what, keep going. December is National Plot Writing Month. We'll shape your words into a compelling story then.
Are you still writing? Did you start strong only to find yourself wavering now? Still hanging on? Is the tension rising?

10 November 2008

Plot, Platform, Publicity

In a recent issue of The Bookwoman, the official publication of Women's National Book Association, Fern Reiss gives hints on how to publicize your novel. One of her methods is to put a nonfiction hook in your novel. Hooks provide a potential platform as well as leverage for publicity. Riess' words shot through me. Of course! Brilliant!

I often guide writers through the pitfalls of creating the Middle of your story in two ways. The use of antagonists is one. The other is to create an unusual world. When the protagonist leaves the old world, they enter the story world. Not only does this technique support your writing, as Reiss points out, creating such a hook leads to so much more.

Write what you know. Create the story world around your passion -- that which you know and love.

Or write about that which you do not know, but fascinates you enough to immerse yourself in until you become an expert.

Readers and audiences love to learn or experience something new and exotic. Provide that in the world you create in the Middle.

Take raising a wild coyote (the core of a new memoir coming out 12/2 by Simon and Schuster -- The Daily Coyote) or learning about life as a queen (as in CW Gortner's new historical novel by Ballantine Books: The Last Queen). Not only do the exotic worlds of contemporary Wyoming and 1492 Spain provide excitement and plot twists, they also provide a potential platform from which to publicize your work.

For instance, Barnes & Noble writes of Daily Coyote: "This full-color illustrated book will change your view of an entire species." This is big, news worthy, and holds importance beyond the book itself, beyond Shreve herself. News outlets -- T.V. and radio, newspapers and magazines are more likely to do a story on Shreve and her book based on that one statement than simply doing an interview about the book itself. Therefore, the unusual world she elaborates on -- raising a wild coyote -- becomes her platform which an entire publicity campaign centers around.

What unusual world does the story world in the Middle of your story involve???

04 November 2008

Finish by Year's End -- Take the Poll

On the wheel of life, this is both a time to reap the harvest of all we have accomplished for the year and also a time to reflect on whether we actually planted the seeds we intended and nurtured them to fruition.

If you started your writing project and finished -- this is a time to celebrate!!

If you started and haven't finished, it's not too late.

Even if you haven't started, it's not too late.

You have until year's end.

How many words, pages do you envision your completed project? Divide by the 58 days before the end of the year.

An average book is between 250 pages = 4 pages everyday until the end of the year to 320 pages = 5 1/2 pages a day to the end of the year.

What about you? Finished? Started, but not finished yet? Haven't started?

01 November 2008

Top Down or Bottom Up??

Two vastly different plot consultations for two vastly different writers.

One, a female with a logically well-thought out detailed plot and the different parts of her story -- scenes and chapters -- sequentially lined up and arranged in logical order.

The other, a male with a wildly creative premise and lots of random ideas for the overall story.

1) The logical writer had so many details and parts of the story figured out that it took nearly the entire two-hour plot consultation before I fully grasped the overall story. Based nearly entirely on real life, still, the writer has chosen to write a novel rather than a memoir.

Though she had thought out many of the parts, she still had trouble grasping what the story was really all about -- the coherence and meaning were muddled and confused. In the end, we found the whole, thanks to the Plot Planner visual aid in front of me that I later color-coded and, because character and emotion are a bit of a stretch for her, included lots of notes on developing the character, the very heart of the story itself.

2) The intuitive writer could see the big picture for his story but had difficulty with the details, like what to put where. He had a sensational twist but could not "see" a way to get there. This isn't the first time he has come to me for help in outlining his story for him. After two successfully published novels, still, because of his random nature, he craves linear support. He intuitively knows what he wants but no idea how to get there.

As he flits from one idea to the next, I continually bring him back to the parts or the scenes. We start with the answer and work backward. He knows what he means but has trouble finding the best way to get there. He does well with his own individual Plot Planner because the visual map grounds him and gives him step-by-step support to reach his vision of a story that is based mostly in fantasy.

Most people are whole brain learners. But it's amazing to me how many writers I come in contact with through my plot workshops and plot consultations who are distinctively one or the other.

What about you? Are you a logical planner with a firm grasp of the scenes but confused about the overall story itself? A more random visionary with the bigger picture in mind, but struggle with a way to get there?? Or, are you one of the lucky ones who has a enough of both sides to sail through your writing projects?