22 September 2010

Depicting Character Emotion

To depict character emotion beyond the cliches -- slamming things down and shouting when angry, dancing and singing when joyful -- takes having felt the emotion yourself as a writer or the intuitive ability to detect the subtle exaggeration of common external behaviors that signal deeper emotion.

We are not always encouraged to acknowledge our true emotions -- especially so, women, or so I wonder. Women of a certain generation, mine, were taught to be the peacemakers at all cost, to sweep the raw, edgy emotions out of sight of others which also became more comfortable for ourselves, too.

No wonder many of us have difficulty showing authentic human emotions in our characters in true and fresh ways. 

Subsequent generations have been encouraged to explore feelings and express them more honestly. I wonder if that is true and makes it any easier to conjure up unique shows of emotion??

The little notebook and pencil you carry with you everywhere comes in handy to record people's show of emotion -- both authentic and inauthentic emotions.  

should be up later today)

21 September 2010

Authentic Details Reflect Character's Inner Life & Change within the Story

Once you have your first, second, third + drafts written and you're set on the overall plot, major scenes and turning points, character growth and transformation, and have a sense of your overall theme, turn your attention to "every word perfect."

I know, by the time you've written countless drafts, you're eager (desperate!) to send your story out for feedback from your agent or to query to entice an agent to request your manuscript. If you can hold back, take the time to print out a hard copy of your novel, memoir, or screenplay and read every word with an analytical mind -- can you pump up that common verb for a punchier one? Substitute that cliche with a fresh way of understanding her sensibilities?

Where a character lives; the clothes she wears; the car she drives; what she keeps in her medicine cabinet; her refrigerator; her make-up bag; choice of pictures on the wall of her apartment, townhouse, or mansion  are all an externalization of the character's inner life and mean something. 

Authentic Details in the Beginning, Middle, End:
In the Beginning (1/4)*** of the story, the authentic details you relay reflect the character as she is starting out the story.

In the Middle (1/2)***, the details shift to reflect her as she journeys into the great unknown. 

The authentic details she surrounds herself with at the End (1/4)*** reveals the character's true, authentic details -- hers and hers alone -- and deepens the reader's understanding of who the character is now = the character's ultimate transformation. 

Oh, and now is a great time to grab your pen and pad of paper and follow along with the Plot Series:How Do I Plot a Novel, Memoir, Screenplay? to plot your next story. That way, when every word is perfect in the story you're finishing up now, you'll have the next one all plotted and ready to go... That's the plan, anyway... Hope you stop by...

(***These divisions are not rules based on formula but guidelines based on the energetic form of the Universal Story)

18 September 2010

Freedom for Writers in Santa Cruz

As you write forward toward the Climax of your story, a little voice in your head whispers the need to go back and fix what you now know is awful, horrid or simply not working in the beginning. Over and over you silence the voice, stumbling to the End of the Beginning, the Halfway Point, the Crisis, the Climax, the Resolution.

It's difficult to resist the pull to go back and start again.

I'm feeling the pull big time right now. I followed the energy to do this wacky YouTube Plot Series. If you ask me how it happened, I'd have to say it came exactly like a new story. Inspiration hit. Helpful people lined up. I jumped in with both feet and very little, if any pre-plotting.

I know, I know. Flying by the seat-of-my-pants goes against my grain as a plotter but I knew if I didn't just start, I'd find all sorts of reason to back down and never do it.

Now approaching the End of the Beginning of the Plot Series -- everything needed for a plot has been introduced. All the story elements are lining up and in place. A surprising and wonderful subplot appeared out of nowhere and thus, we introduce the Santa Cruz Traveling Mystery Tour (a night at the Darling House in Santa Cruz is the grand prize). One more step, and we jump in and actually get to the plotting -- as a verb. 

Time to get organized. Meeting with my partner in crime, we're plotting out all the locations for the background and Traveling Mystery Tour, dates to shoot, etc. Will be nice to have a plan, a plot planner, a map, a guide to keep us on track while we're busy following the energy.

Still, I so want to go back and re-shoot Step One. Don't get me wrong, the content of the first step is good, great actually. But, I'm hiding in a bush, a dog is whining to be with us, I'm speaking slowly, feels almost like slow motion language... Plus, we hadn't come up with the idea of shooting the videos with local Santa Cruz landmarks in the background. The list goes on. 

I like to advise writers to follow the energy. Whatever you have energy for, you'll bring a freshness to it. Thus, if the energy keeps pulling you back, should you go? Hmmm... I still say resist and find a way to create positive energy for the writing even when most difficult.

If you go back now, you may never find your way back.

And so I resist going back. Might as well keep my focus forward and see what comes. 

I can always go back and re-shoot later. 

Onward and upward -- my wish for you and to find the energy to keep writing forward to the end and my wish for the Plot Series, too.

Oh, and I nearly forgot to mention: Step 6 is up. Absolutely incredible backdrop...

14 September 2010

3 Major Plot Lines + 1 in Novels, Memoir, Screenplays

For a story to have meaning, the dramatic action forces the character to grow and change at the least, transform at best.

Each of these threads = dramatic action, character emotional development and thematic significance runs through every great picture book, middle grade fiction, young adult and adult novels whether genre or literary, all memoirs and screenplays. 

All other plot lines are determined by age and type of story. However, one other plot line is in most stories, other than picture books and middle grade fiction = romantic plot line.

The 5th step in the Plot Series of How Do I Plot a Novel, Memoir, Screenplay? covers this 4th plot line. Hope you'll visit and follow along. 

09 September 2010

Dangling Plot Lines

During plot consultations, my most reliable judge of whether something is working in a writer's story is goosebumps. Weird... I know. Still, that sublime sensation of connection, of perfection sweeps over me  and I know the writer is onto something special. 

A writer in London tells me her story. Scene after scene and the sensation pops up. Once. Twice. Several times. 

That said, this writer has many plot lines: character emotional development, dramatic action, political, thematic, cultural. Nothing wrong with that. Problem arises because all of the plot lines come and go with little coherence. The rising energy is off. Key scenes are a jumble. Nothing adds up to anything.

Still... goosebumps never fail. Plus, it's not that hard to pull the threads all the way through once you understand how.

Step Five of the Plot Series covers plot lines. It should be up early next week.

Until then, grab a tablet of paper and a pencil, click on How Do I Plot a Novel, Memoir, Screenplay? Begin on Step One, which is confusing because videos are duplicated and I haven't figured out how to fix it yet... so, just stick to Step 1, 2, 3, 4 and begin a new story. 

Even if you're in the middle of another story, take a brief couple of minutes every week, visit the Series, and before you know it, when you finish your first story, the next one is all plotted and ready to write.

Click here to view more free information on plot.

07 September 2010

Launch of How Do I Plot a Novel, Memoir, Screenplay? YouTube Plot Series

For the past couple of years, tens of thousands of writers from NaNoWriMo and points near and far follow Plot Whisperer daily in December. PlotWriMo is day-by-day guidance for writers who have finished a draft of a story and the desire to re-vision and shape the thousands of words into an actual plot. 

Recently, I had a hunch perhaps pre-plotting guidance might be helpful, too. 

Aspiring Writers and Writers Ready to Craft a New Story and interested in attending the 5-Day WRITERS PLOT RETREAT Nov. 3rd - 7th inspire this Plot Series

Follow along with How Do I Plot a Novel, Memoir, Screenplay? 

What can I say?

I love to teach...

How Do I Plot a Novel, Memoir, Screenplay? is a series of steps and meant to be viewed sequentially from the oldest video to the most recent.

Soon, I'll upload the videos here on the blog, too. First, I need a break from just getting this first phase up and running. Whew!

For updates, please subscribe to the
marthaalderson channel, follow for announcements of a new step posted via a new video. I'll also announce via this blog, Facebook and Twitter and LinkedIn under Martha Alderson.

Join us!

For those of you who don't know me, I am Martha Alderson aka Plot Whisperer, international plot consultant for writers, author of Blockbuster Plots Pure & Simple, and founder of Blockbuster Plots for Writers and PlotWriMo. 

My clients include best-selling authors, writing teachers and fiction editors, and Hollywood movie directors. 

I can help you, too, with plot.

03 September 2010

Another Tip to Bolster the Sagging Middle

Impossible for writers with an appreciation of all the Middle encompasses to write a sagging Middle. 

I've written extensively in previous blogs about the Middle being:
  • Territory of the Antagonists 
  • The Exotic World
(2 Tips for bolstering the Middle)

To add to that, the scenes in the Middle are made up of opportunities for the protagonist to learn the skills and knowledge she needs in order reign victorious at the Climax and achieve her long-term goal. 

Though she is unconscious or oblivious of her need to learn new skills and knowledge, you as the writer are fully conscious. Put her in scenes that challenge her weaknesses and show her what she needs to learn by allowing the antagonists to interfere with her efforts and movement toward her goal. 

02 September 2010

Authentic Details Reflect Ultimate Transformation

The authentic details you identify when writing the scenes in the Beginning (1/4) show the objects the protagonist most identifies with. These objects reflect the protagonist's conditioning by her environment, upbringing, and culture.

When the protagonist moves into the Middle (1/2), she moves out of the ordinary and conditioned world into an exotic and unknown world (thus, the need to create two unique settings). 

Whether she is a willing adventurer or resistant is reflected by the degree of pain caused her by the loss of these objects. Unable to base her identity on her association to her things and lifestyle, she questions who she is. Thus begins her inner plot line and creates the 1st step toward the incremental and ultimate story transformation. 

Look at the objects surrounding you. What do they convey about where you are on your writer's journey? What can you let go of and move closer to where you wish to be?