29 April 2014

Forever Grateful to Writers Digest

I came to writing late in life after a career of helping kids with speech, language and learning disabilities much like I had grappled with. Sinking into the imaginative, non-verbal world of words felt safe, though not always natural. I struggled with plot. After deconstructing stories and discovering many of the hidden elements of plot, I began sharing with writing friends what I was learning.

My first big "break", though I wasn't thinking about breaking into anything
other than I was simply attempting to keep up with requests to teach, came at an early Jack London Writer's Conference hosted by my then local branch of California Writer's ClubMelanie Rigney, then managing editor of Writers Digest Magazine, sat in on my plot workshop. My visual approach appealed to her. I still remember the sense of wonder settling over me in the hallway after my workshop as I listened to her excitement and praise and encouragement to write for her magazine.

A plot article with my by-line came out to a great response. Melanie went on to help edit my first book on plot that I self-published: Blockbuster Plots Pure and Simple and even went so far as to reach out to many of her colleagues who wrote glowing blurbs for the back of the book.

Since Melanie's life-changing endorsement and belief in my approach, I've gone on to carry the honor of being awarded 101 Best Websites for Writers by Writers Digest again this year for the 6th time. I teach plot webinars for Writers Digest and all three of my Plot Whisperer books are published Adams Media -- a Writers Digest fellow imprint of F + W Media. Fall 2015, I become a Writers Digest author.

The support of Melanie and so many others at Writers Digest, especially the gate-keepers to knowledge and dream-makers to success, did wonders as I've wandered through the maze of what makes a story captivate the reader both by exploring the visual plot templates I was devising with my own writing and teaching others. The published work by so many writers who credit my plot techniques as helpful to their success comes on the shoulders of others -- many of whom are Writers' Digest writers.

In August I'll be teaching plot in Los Angeles at Plot Your Novel's Course: Writer's Digest Novel Writing Intensive.

Until then, I invite you to join me this Thursday for my live Writers Digest plot webinar: 10 Tips to Immediately Create Great Plots: Everything You Need to Plot a Great Story. Thanks to the webinar format, I am able to show you the tips I recommend with the use of my visual templates rather than simply tell you about them.

Thank you, Writers Digest, for everything!
For more: Read my Plot Whisperer and Blockbuster Plots books for writers.

26 April 2014

Character Consistency

I've been gushing about character transformation since the moment I first grasp the ultimate gift awaiting the protagonist and reader and the writer at the Climax based on lessons learned and conflict and tension endured.

The antagonist's world in the middle is not simply to throw road blocks to knock the protagonist from her path to what she thinks she wants. A deeper and more lasting point of the conflict and challenges in the middle are the lessons, skills, abilities, knowledge, beliefs buried in the interaction with other characters (relationships).

Character transformation is cumulative and spans the entire story.

To be successful, you're best served by tracking for character consistency in every single scene.

One method is with a Scene Tracker. The column to address is Character Emotional Development.

  • Beginning quarter = introduce character traits 
  • Middle = deepen and break traits 
  • End = reveal a changed and transformed character
Need more help with your story? 
  • Ready for a massive rewrite? Re-vision first!
  • Confused about what you're really trying to convey in your story?
  • Lots of action, no character development? Lots of character development and no action?
  • Looking for tips to prop up your middle with excitement? 
  • Wish you understood how to show don't tell what your character is feeling? 
  • Are even you sometimes bored with your own story?
  • Long to form your concept into words? 
We can help you with all of that and so much more! View your story in an entirely new light. Recharge your energy and enthusiasm for your writing.

1st video (43 minutes of direct instruction + exercises for your own individual story) FREE
PlotWriMo: Revise Your Novel in a Month includes 8 videos  (5.5 hours)  + 30 exercises total
For more: Read my Plot Whisperer and Blockbuster Plots books for writers.

21 April 2014

An Essential Element of Scene: Excitement (or Conflict, Tension, Suspense and/or Curiosity)

To engage your reader, especially in today's world filled with distractions, you must keep your story exciting. Excitement is created through dramatic action where a positive outcome for the protagonist is constantly threatened.

Without gorgeous writing, exciting action and/or compelling characters (preferably all three), a reader's mind wanders. A reader with a wandering mind detaches from the story, puts down the book and later, if she does pick the story up again, she'll not recognize where she left off because, though her eyes skimmed the words the first time, meaning didn't penetrate.

Because she has to go back to find where she last remembered reading consciously, any true connection to the story has been compromised and the reader may never fully commit to finishing your story.

Plot Tip:
Find a scene, passage, chapter, section that's boring to you? You can be sure the reader became bored even earlier in the story than you did. Now, rewrite the scene using extreme ideas, wild choices, any surprising elements you can pull in to create emotion and excitement, tension, heart and conflict. Brainstorm for all possible ideas to create more conflict and excitement and then hone them to fit your story.

Today I write.
For more: Read my Plot Whisperer and Blockbuster Plots books for writers.

16 April 2014

HoHum Story Concept? Energize through Thematic Significance

Last week's homework for our 16-week Plot from Beginning to End video chat workshop -- Chapter 14: Find Your Thematic Bubble in Plot Whisperer Workbook: Step-by-Step Exercises to Help You Create Compelling Stories -- came at the exact right time. With only a couple more sessions left and all the concept, plot and character elements plotted out on Plot Planners and Scene Trackers filling in for the 7 essential elements grounding the writers, this exercise seemed to allow the writers the clarity to see more deeply into their stories.

Dark and edgy themes popped up for some of the writers while filling in the "thematic bubbles" exercise. Because of that (cause and effect), those same writers willingly risk embracing darker and edgier themes which in turn creates darker and edgier character goals with clearer emotional weight and more unique and compelling heart to their stories, sending their stories to higher degrees of originality and mass appeal to all other books in their genre and beyond. Nearly every single writer discovered deeper elements about their stories that elevates their story concept.

Give the exercise a try. List all the themes in your story. Circle the themes that begin in the beginning (first page?) all the way to the end. Study those themes for meaning.

Today I write.
For more: Read my Plot Whisperer and Blockbuster Plots books for writers.

08 April 2014

15 Tips How-to Write a Novel with a Blockbuster Plot

Begin by knowing who protagonist is at the climax
Locate what your story says about life, the deeper meaning. For PB, the take-away
Open with a character minus the skills, strengths & abilities needed at the climax
Commit to the primary plot of your story
Know who carries the emotional weight of your story, the heart
Break your story into ¼ The Beginning, ½ The Middle, ¼ The End
Use the protagonist’s flaw to interfere with reaching her goal
Start at the end and plot your way backwards
Turn episodic events into scenes with cause and effect Establish protagonist’s flaw in scene #1
Rather than tell the protagonist’s backstory in summary, show what she is unable to do

Plot the territory of the antagonist in the middle as an exotic world to the protagonist
Love 1st ideas & replace with depth more closely tied thematically to the whole
Optimize character development by keeping an eye out for the gift she brings
Take your story from beginning to end before going back and starting again

Today I write.
For more: Read my Plot Whisperer and Blockbuster Plots books for writers