International plot consultant, author of the Plot Whisperer books for writers and founder of PlotWriMo, I help transform stories. As Secrets of Personal Transformation visionary, I help transform lives.
26 September 2009
Fatal Plot Flaw
21 September 2009
Plot Tip: Creating an Illusion
Only while daydreaming or night dreaming, through mediation, under hypnosis, or while in the zone of writing or some other passion and with practice, can we stay mindful or conscious of the present moment for a sustained period of time. Usually our minds are darting into the future, whether the next 10 minutes or 10 years from now, or into the past, what just happened or what happened long ago.
Reading is a mindful activity. When the writing is good and in scene, a reader reads the words, but rather than pay attention to them, becomes engaged with the characters. This keeps the reader in the present moment -- not real time present moment, but story time present moment. Watching a scene unfold on the screen or while reading it on the page, we experience a sense of flow.
A story written in scene creates its own time and a sense that the present moment is all that exists. As we sink into the world of the characters, we surrender even our emotions to the illusion. This strengthens as we come to know the characters and care for them, even to worry about them. Our bodies respond on a visceral level; our hearts beat faster. We laugh and weep, present and involved in the story world itself.
Elements that entice a reader or moviegoer to sink deeper into the dream:
1) Characters who invoke interest in the reader or movie-goer
2) Conflict, tension and suspense that sustains excitement
3) Only enough back story to inform that particular scene and triggers in the reader or movie-goers curiosity and investment in the dream
4) Clarity into whom and what to root for in the story
5) Consistency in story pacing versus missteps that can jolt the reader awake
6) Right sensory details that deepen the overall story (dream) mood
7) Foreshadowing that offers enticement (flashbacks can create time disorientation).
8) No hint of the author in the story versus author intrusion
9) The right balance between Scene and Summary
10) Payoffs in the dramatic action and the character emotional development at just the right moments.
Once the lights go on in the theater or we put the book down, it takes a moment or two to remember that the people in the story were an illusion. Often, it is necessary to consciously detach from the world on the screen or the page in order to return to real life and regain a sense of real time.
The best stories are when we are with the characters and so in the trance of the moment that there never seems to be a good reason to put the book down or to pause the DVD. Lured deeper and deeper into the dream, we are unable to stop watching or stop reading until we find out if what we fear will happen does indeed happen, or not.
17 September 2009
Word Count for Scenes
I've been working through my scene tracker and planned 20 chapters, each with 3 scenes or a total of 60 scenes. I divided plot into the first 1/4 or 5 chapters, the next 1/2 15 chapters, and the final 1/4 or 5 chapters.
Last evening as I was writing I realized each scene would have to be about 1,000 words to get to 60,000 and right now they are only about 600. What is a good average for scenes? Are my scenes too word light (Oh no!)?
Thanks so much! I appreciate your thoughts!
Sounds like you've done lots of pre-plotting, analyzing and preparing for this new story of yours. Congratulations!!
Now it's time to forget about the structure and write. Well, that's not entirely true. Don't forget about all the work you've done. Use your guidelines as support as you write your way through the scenes, but don't get bogged down by the pre-plotting.
Some of us benefit from having a road map before setting off on a journey (new story). However, it's also nice to be able to wander off once in awhile if so inspired. So, it depends on if you're writing for fun and for the experience and the learning and the exploring OR if you're writing under a deadline. Under a deadline, keep to the pre-plot work to keep your writing on track.
The scenes in the first draft generally grow in subsequent drafts as you add more elements -- authentic and thematic details, more emotion, deeper character development, snappier action.
Write your first draft all the way through without going back and without worrying about how long the scenes end up being. Once you reach the end, you'll have plenty of time to analyze what you have and make decisions for the next draft.
Great good luck!!!!
15 September 2009
Plot Your Story's Theme
Writers generally begin a new project writing in their strength:
Character Emotional Development
The writers who begin with an idea they want to explore or a concept they want to prove through their story are beginning with Thematic Significance. For the rest of us, the theme of our stories bubbles up from the story itself in later drafts. No matter what we write, the process of writing is an exploration into ourselves, our own personal themes.
Either way the theme comes to you, the themes we write about most often originate from our own personal past -- at least for the first several stories this is true. Our own belief system and the themes we live our lives by pop up in our stories when we least expect them. Unless, that is, we are aware of the themes we live by and are on the lookout for them.
Make a list of the themes you find that seem to consistently come up in your writing.
Next post, I'll discuss how to take that list and shape those themes ideas into a Thematic Significance statement for your project.