What is JacketFlap

  • JacketFlap connects you to the work of more than 200,000 authors, illustrators, publishers and other creators of books for Children and Young Adults. The site is updated daily with information about every book, author, illustrator, and publisher in the children's / young adult book industry. Members include published authors and illustrators, librarians, agents, editors, publicists, booksellers, publishers and fans.
    Join now (it's free).

Sort Blog Posts

Sort Posts by:

  • in
    from   

Suggest a Blog

Enter a Blog's Feed URL below and click Submit:

Most Commented Posts

In the past 7 days

Recent Posts

(from Plot Whisperer for Writers and Readers)

Recent Comments

MyJacketFlap Blogs

  • Login or Register for free to create your own customized page of blog posts from your favorite blogs. You can also add blogs by clicking the "Add to MyJacketFlap" links next to the blog name in each post.

Blog Posts by Date

Click days in this calendar to see posts by day or month
new posts in all blogs
Viewing Blog: Plot Whisperer for Writers and Readers, Most Recent at Top
Results 1 - 25 of 613
Visit This Blog | Login to Add to MyJacketFlap
Blog Banner
A blog about story, character and plot structure. A writer by night, by day I help other writers achieve their dreams of completing a worthy project.
Statistics for Plot Whisperer for Writers and Readers

Number of Readers that added this blog to their MyJacketFlap: 13
1. 5 Tips How to Write and Sell a Picture Book with a Plot

I'm jumping for joy, having finished filming How to Write a Sell a Picture Book with a Plot with Jill Corcoran, literary agent for some of today's finest picture books authors.

After months of creating the program, exercises and 7 scripts for each of us based on the Picture Book Workshops and Advanced Picture Book Workshops in the Plot Whisperer Workbook series we taught earlier in the year, rehearsing and filming, I'm excited and proud to announce the official launch of our latest A Path to Publishing video series.

In the 7-video How to Write a Sell a Picture Book with a Plot, Jill offers up gems to writers who wants to sell their work to a publisher: a winning concept, memorable characters, exciting action and a meaningful take-away. I share examples of popular picture books with plots and tips how to plot and write one for yourself. We offer 28 exercises designed to fire your story ideas and current writing sky-rocketing!

I analyze flap copies for plot. Jill sees a compelling concept.

I deconstruct picture book plots. Jill looks for unique take-aways.

We're a match made for this series.

Five tips I gleaned during the filming of the series:

1) Writers for all ages and genres benefit from the plot clarity presented in a picture book. Minus subplots, the primary plots of Dramatic Action, Character Emotional Development and Thematic Significance and a Heart Connection shine.

2) A picture book dummy is like a Plot Planner in book form. With the 3 major turning points plotted on the appropriate page, knowing what to fill in on the other 7-8 pages for each of the beginning, middle (double) and end becomes clear

3) Logicals are paramount in picture books. Minus descriptions of authentic details, internal monologue and dense narration that can muddle story flaws often found in novels, any break in the logical plot progression in a picture is glaring.

4) When intent on improving your craft, practice writing a story a plot and analyzing prize-winning plots in pictures books involves much fewer pages than writing and analyzing novels.

5) A fresh concept, great craft and unique voice are the anthems of great writing of every kind

Today I write!

No matter your genre or preferred audience, I invite you to watch How to Write a Sell a Picture Book with a Plot. Do the exercises. Join our Facebook group and ask questions that come up in the series and your share progress.

Along with How to Write a Sell a Picture Book with a Plot, we also offer in our Video Workshops Series ~~ PlotWriMo: Revise Your Novel in a Month

Today I write!
~~~~~~~~
For plot help: Read my Plot Whisperer and Blockbuster Plots books for writers.
~~~~
Ready to rewrite your story? First revise. 

  • 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? 
PlotWriMo 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.

PlotWwiMo: REVISE YOUR NOVEL IN A MONTH
PlotWriMo: Revise Your Novel in a Month includes 8 videos  (5.5 hours)  + 30 exercises

0 Comments on 5 Tips How to Write and Sell a Picture Book with a Plot as of 9/11/2014 1:12:00 PM
Add a Comment
2. Every Writer's Mantra

Show don't tell is every writer's mantra and one of the first stumbling blocks a beginning writer encounters. Come time to revise before writing the next draft, writers with little background in the craft of writing a story with a plot find they've told the story rather than shown the story through scenes. Both writing in summary and in all dialogue, writing from a distance seems easier to manage. Even in first person POV, writers often unwittingly separate from the intimacy of sensuous story moments by narrating or telling the story.


This is fine, in the first draft. More than fine actually. I advise writing your story anyway you can from beginning all the way to end before going back and rewriting. This way you know what happens at the end which directly influences what comes in the beginning.

As you begin to understand how to write a scene, you find yourself overcompensating by following up your scenes with explanatory summaries.

Plot tip: Trust your writing
Plot tip: Trust your reader
Plot tip: Never repeat. Deepen.

You also struggle with issues that come up about the overall presentation of the story.

What POV is best for your story?
Where to put memories?
How to incorporate flashbacks
What is the optimum length your readers will enjoy?
What to put in?
What to leave out?
What are you trying to say; what do all the words add up to?
What will your reader be left with?

These are questions every novelist, writer grapples with when learning the craft of writing a story with a plot.

Today I write!
~~~~~~~~
For help: Read my Plot Whisperer and Blockbuster Plots books for writers.
~~~~
Ready to rewrite your story? First revise. 

  • 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? 
PlotWriMo 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.

PlotWwiMo: REVISE YOUR NOVEL IN A MONTH
PlotWriMo: Revise Your Novel in a Month includes 8 videos  (5.5 hours)  + 30 exercises

0 Comments on Every Writer's Mantra as of 9/10/2014 10:54:00 AM
Add a Comment
3. How to Show Character Emotion beyond the Cliched

Often in real life and news reports, we witness spontaneous and raw emotion. Not something we're privy to much in our everyday lives, having been taught to control our emotions as demonstrated by our show of emotional development and maturity.

Many shy away from bearing witness to some of the most raw and painful shows of emotion -- rage, sorrow, jealousy, aggression, grief. Some judge shows of spontaneous and raw emotion childish / dangerous / uncomfortable. Buck up, we're taught. Everyone feels pain. Grow up. Get over it.


Yet, in those shared moments of emotional truth rather than skimming along on the surface of life, the spontaneous and raw emotion pulls us deeper and connects us primally and universally to all of life.

Convey that universality through the truth of your  character's emotional reaction in such a way as to elicit the shared emotion in your reader and move your audience and you've create fans for life.

Plot Tip:
Feel what you need to feel.

Let your characters feel what they need to feel.

Remove the mask. Feel. Identify what and why and how that feeling shows itself in you and in others. When you're in the throes of true emotion, jot down the physical and emotional and spiritual reactions the emotion draws up in you. With your findings, create your own emotional notebook. Search beyond the cliched emotional reactions to the truth of what you see and feel and hear and touch and taste and know to be true when experiencing real emotion.

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

Need more help with your story? 

  • 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? 
PlotWriMo 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.

PlotWwiMo: REVISE YOUR NOVEL IN A MONTH
PlotWriMo: Revise Your Novel in a Month includes 8 videos  (5.5 hours)  + 30 exercises

0 Comments on How to Show Character Emotion beyond the Cliched as of 9/4/2014 4:40:00 PM
Add a Comment
4. Where To Start: How To Write the Exact Right Beginning of Your Story

Pain shoots up from the bottom of her foot, enough so she limps and is forced to wear heavy boots with firm arch supports. Hearing the pain started about a month into writing a memoir and that she hasn't moved very far into her story even after more than seven months of writing scenes long-hand, I suspect that her foot pain and writing pain were linked.

Often problems with the feet indicate difficulty moving forward. I ask her what the problem is with moving forward with her story.

"I don't know where to begin," she mutters.


The struggle in determining the exact right beginning point to start your story is not isolated to memoir writers. Yes, when faced with scenes from your entire life, deciding what to put in and what to leave out can confuse a writer about where best to begin her memoir. The same can be said for novelists and screenwriters as well as memoir writers

With some intense theme explorations, both listing themes that fire up the most energy in her to write about and developing a thematic significance statement for what meaning overall she wishes to convey lead her to the perfect place to begin.

Is that the place the memoir will ultimately begin in the final, final draft? Not necessarily. At this point the most important action this writer can take is to start there and write an entire draft all the way to the end one time. Then she can go back and determine if, in fact, that is the place to begin or take the test I share in my upcoming Writers Store webinar: Where To Start: How To Write the Exact Right Beginning of Your Story and finally pinpoint the exact right place. (Oh, and I can almost guarantee that by the time she writes into the exotic world of the middle, her foot pain miraculously vanishes…)

Today I write!
~~~~~~~~
For more about how to develop THEMES and a THEMATIC SIGNIFICANCE STATEMENT for your novel, memoir, screenplay: Read my Plot Whisperer and Blockbuster Plots books for writers.
~~~~
Need more help with your story? 
  • 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.


PlotWwiMo: REVISE YOUR NOVEL IN A MONTH
PlotWriMo: Revise Your Novel in a Month includes 8 videos  (5.5 hours)  + 30 exercises

0 Comments on Where To Start: How To Write the Exact Right Beginning of Your Story as of 9/2/2014 10:30:00 PM
Add a Comment
5. Witness Transformation

Her self-talk is brutal about how she never follows through on her writing goals, shakes her head at how many vacation days she's taken for the express purpose of writing the entire time only to veg in front of the television telling herself all sorts of loser stories about herself to herself, sinking deeper into despair and the impossibility of her situation.


That's all backstory. Her inciting incident in this scenario in her life is when she signs up with me. In the next few months, she shows me all of who she currently is -- her baseline data as it relates to this story at this time in her life.

The sacrifices she makes to afford to work with me does nothing to spur her to be accountable to herself. During many of the two-week periods between checking in with me, she does no writing at all. When she does write, she shows up session after session, ashamed of not writing more, not being good enough, not knowing how to write well enough. Drowning in excuses, her pattern emerges.

Rather than give her what she seems to be waiting for -- confirmation that yes indeed, she is a mess, a failure, unworthy -- instead I offer strategies to bridge the way from where she quakes on one side of the rapids to the calm meadow of acceptance on the other side. She keeps paying my fee and wanting to talk at the conceptual level. I keep dragging her out of her fears and into the concrete here-and-now, brainstorming one scene after another and reminding her again and again about the treasures waiting in her story -- she has a couple of fantastic elements that make for a rocking concept.

The moment she crosses over into the exotic world of being a true writer -- writing -- and leaves behind the pretender and talker about being a writer is the day she shuts off the cable to her house and removes the television. We both know the darkness this exotic new world she's entering represents to her and what awaits her. The resistance doesn't magically disappear, though it can by taking full responsibility for our choices. After a smooth month or two, her schedule changes, forcing her to write at home rather than in the safety of a crowded coffee shop. One of her beloved cats dies. The other beloved clings to her.

She's a sponge for any and all advice and support I offer her. She wants this. She wants to write this story from beginning to end. And somewhere even deeper, I hear her desperate cry to heal the festering wound she's been picking at all her writing life, perhaps her entire life.

I ask her to write in every room of the house (lots of resistance to her writing room) and keep a record of how long she writes in each space and how she feels writing there. Unexpectedly, she stumbles upon an exact right spot. When she compares her progress writing at that spot to all others, she understands that she actually likes to write there.

As fiercely as she longs to dabble in the safety of the beginning of her story, now, in her exact right writing space with concrete scene ideas, she writes into the exotic world of her story. The story and major characters begin to enliven her. As she grows stronger, her negative self-talk fades. Excitement and energy for her story build. Her own personal transformation begins.

Yes, a crisis likely awaits her. Still she's gaining the strength and beliefs and self-knowledge needed not to be felled by whatever comes as she writes deeper and deeper into her story.

A climax also await -- I have every faith in her (and in each of us) that if she wants it, she will triumph and in the end hold in her hands a completed novel from beginning to end with a plot.

Today I write!
~~~~~~~~
For more: Read my Plot Whisperer and Blockbuster Plots books for writers.
~~~~
Need more help with your story? 
  • 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.


PlotWwiMo: REVISE YOUR NOVEL IN A MONTH
PlotWriMo: Revise Your Novel in a Month includes 8 videos  (5.5 hours)  + 30 exercises

0 Comments on Witness Transformation as of 9/1/2014 12:25:00 PM
Add a Comment
6. Task Analysis to Creating Exciting Scenes in the Middle of Your Novel, Memoir, Screenplay

When I worked in special education, we preformed a task analysis of school activities children struggled with to determine the hierarchical concepts and cognition, steps and skills needed to master the given tasks in the classroom. Starting with a specific goal assigned by the teacher, we'd break the necessary behavioral sequence into steps allowing for adaption, modification and compensation.

Like scenes on a Plot Planner, each step sequentially leads to the successful completion of said goal.

Plot Tip:
Do a task analysis of the protagonist's overall story goal in your novel, memoir, screenplay.

Start with the actions the protagonist takes that show mastery at the 4th Energetic Marker and crowning glory of the entire story. Now, work backwards, breaking down each step needed to gain the necessary skills and abilities, knowledge and beliefs for the protagonist to prevail. Form these steps into scenes and place them in the middle of your Plot Planner in an hierarchical order beginning at the start of the middle with scenes of lesser tension, conflict suspense and curiosity to those scenes with greatest conflict, tension and suspense at the end of the story.

Identify and anticipate the antagonists facing the protagonist in the middle of your story. Create more excitement in the middle by creating challenges, obstacles, interferences that challenge the protagonist's weaknesses (flaw, fear, hatred) and force her to adapt to, modify and compensate for those same weaknesses while also discovering her hidden strengthens.

Use the Energetic Markers as your guide for which scene goes where.

(You can do this sort of task analysis for every aspect and plot line in your story)

Today I write!
~~~~~~~~
For more: Read my Plot Whisperer and Blockbuster Plots books for writers.
~~~~
Need more help with your story? 
  • 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.


PlotWwiMo: REVISE YOUR NOVEL IN A MONTH - Trailer PlotWriMo: Revise Your Novel in a Month includes 8 videos  (5.5 hours)  + 30 exercises total

0 Comments on Task Analysis to Creating Exciting Scenes in the Middle of Your Novel, Memoir, Screenplay as of 8/26/2014 7:41:00 PM
Add a Comment
7. How to Write a Story Concept for More than One Point-of-View Character

To give you an idea of the sort of help and support every writer needs, a writer watching the PlotWriMo: Revise Your Novel in a Month videos asks on A Path to Publishing FB group: How do you write a concept for more than one pov?


Concept
Who Wants What?
Antagonist Stopping her?
Motivation?

Concept extraordinaire Jill Corcoran answers with this example:

SHOE STUD is a romantic comedy told from alternating pov of the descendants of rivaling shoe dynasties in which Steve, a kleptomaniac with a fetish for shoes, and Marnie, a shy college senior with only one foot, must be the first to find a pair of diamond-studded Blanka wedges or lose their chance at inheriting a sparkling new shoe manufacturing plant.

That one line says enough to intrigue and includes all three plot lines (with a hint of possibility for the fourth).

Dramatic Action:
Will the wedges be found?
Who will find them first?
Ticking clock: who finds the shoes first and wins?

Character Emotional Development:
Steve: kleptomaniac with a fetish for shoes (gives a clear sense of his strength, flaw, love)
Marnie: shy college senior with only one foot (gives a clear sense of her flaw, backstory wound, strength)

Thematic Significance:
At this point the story hinges more on the quirky characterizations of the point-of-view characters and less on a higher calling. If one of them have a goal of winning the plant that includes a higher purpose the thematic significance heightens.

Romance: Any story about a girl and a boy | a woman and a man always offers the possibility of a heart connection between them.

As the concept is written here, the whimsy of the tale is enough for your family, friends, agents, editors, readers to ask for more and thus satisfy the basic demand of a story concept.

(If you haven't already, join us at the A Path to Publishing FB group. Jill and I created the Facebook group as safe, smart, fun alcove for writers and illustrators to share and learn about the craft of writing and the book biz. This is NOT a place to sell your books but a forum for us all to advance our skills, our creativity and our dreams plus learn about what we are up to at A PATH TO PUBLISHING. All genres for all ages Welcome!)

Today I write!
~~~~~~~~
For more: Read my Plot Whisperer and Blockbuster Plots books for writers.
~~~~
Need more help with your story? 
  • 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.


PlotWwiMo: REVISE YOUR NOVEL IN A MONTH - Trailer PlotWriMo: Revise Your Novel in a Month includes 8 videos  (5.5 hours)  + 30 exercises total

0 Comments on How to Write a Story Concept for More than One Point-of-View Character as of 8/21/2014 12:49:00 PM
Add a Comment
8. Dramatic Action Inciting Incident and Character Emotional Development Dark Night

At last weekend's Writer's Digest Novel Writing Conference, an exhilarating success, I presented Deep Scenes: Choosing Just the Right Scene to Plot Your Novel with my co-author of Deep Scenes (Fall 2015) and co-founder of WriterPath Retreats, the fabulous Jordan Rosenfeld.

A writer asks: isn't the inciting incident of the example I used -- the Pulitizer Prize winning The Goldfinch by Donna Tartt -- when he steals the painting?

Yes, the dramatic action inciting incident is when he steals The Goldfinch in the museum. His action energizes the external action, changing the ordinary to the dramatic -- thus inciting the dramatic action plot.

I was describing just prior to her question the scene that occupies the all important 1st Energetic Marker: the End of the Beginning. Rather than the scene where he steals the painting earning the marker moment, the scene that steals the coveted spot is when his father arrives. His father's arrival is a pivotal no-turning-back moment that earns this honor because at its heart, this story is primarily character-driven. Long before his mother dies in the explosion, his father inflicted the protagonist's backstory wound when he walked out on them.

Yes, the dramatic action makes this a page-turning novel -- will he or won't he succeed? The answer we come to care about more deeply is will he or won't he find peace?

After that presentation and especially so after presenting solo Plot and Character Transformation in Novels: Character Goals versus Character Traits, I find I don't even try to resist throwing in what negative reviewers seem to hate in The Plot Whisperer: Secrets of Story Structure Any Writer Can Master -- the Universal Story, especially how it applies beyond stories to us in the human realm. I come home energized about my up-coming: Transform Your Creative Life through the Universal Story: Seize the Life of Your Dreams online personal transformation workshop. Join me and move from where you currently are in the Universal Story to your heart's desire.

Today I write!
~~~~~~~~
For more: Read my Plot Whisperer and Blockbuster Plots books for writers.
~~~~
Need more help with your story? 
  • 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.


PlotWwiMo: REVISE YOUR NOVEL IN A MONTH - TrailerPlotWriMo: Revise Your Novel in a Month includes 8 videos  (5.5 hours)  + 30 exercises total

0 Comments on Dramatic Action Inciting Incident and Character Emotional Development Dark Night as of 8/18/2014 1:21:00 PM
Add a Comment
9. Plot Tips for Introverts: How to Survive a Writers Conference

I muse out loud why the heck I ever agreed to leave my tiny paradise for a crowded plane ride smack into hundreds of anxious, eager, confident, quaking writers. Quaking myself in anticipation of my presentation, I question the emotional cost of forcing oneself to be something we're not inherently disposed to be.


Quietly listening to me moan, the serenely beautiful and thoughtful literary agent Danielle Smith from Red Fox Literary Agency recommends Susan Cain's Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can't Stop Talking.

I'd never thought of myself as an introvert until I started reading this captivating book and saw me staring back at myself.

"Quiet and cerebral people who know how to turn in to their inner world and the treasures to be found there."

Love that. Check.

"Highly sensitive."

Huh, huh. Check.

And the list goes on. Pair all that with being shy in a family and at a time that believed that being shy was selfish, I'm not surprised I willed myself to be extroverted. That painful journey out of silence I've talked about, thanks to Cain, I finally understand.

If you, too, are shy and not comfortable with putting yourself out there, being confident about your abilities and proclaiming proudly your worthiness as a writer, writer's conferences tend to be grueling, excruciating even. One writer passes out in the pitch-an-agent/editor line. Another runs to the bathroom to hurl. Others turn away before their turn materializes. You sit next to an agent while the writer on her other side wows her with a pithy pitch and outrageous concept as you wither and wait until enough time has elapsed to leave the table.

To survive, you're going to have to conjure up a strategy how to don the personality of an extrovert for the weekend, because you do have to sell yourself in this business. Don't fool yourself that you're there to enjoy the company of other like-minded writers. That's true, as is the list of workshops that will serve you well. Your primary reason for leaving the safely of your writer's cave to attend a writer's conference is find an agent who loves your writing and wants more.

Be brave. Try it. Take the risk. Open your mouth and blurt out something. Then open your mouth again and again until something coherent and compelling comes out. Perhaps in that moment -- right agent, right time -- magic happens… Worth the risk? A resounding Yes!

Be sure to schedule an entire week off after you return home from the writer's conference to gather yourself hung-over from anxiety, fear and the exhilaration of stepping into the arena in belief of yourself and your story.

Take the leap this weekend, August 15, 16, 17th and join me at the Writer's Digest Novel Writing Conference in L. A. For my followers, register with the promotional code WDSPEAKER. Today I write!
~~~~~~~~
For more: Read my Plot Whisperer and Blockbuster Plots books for writers.
~~~~
Need more help with your story? 
  • 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.


PlotWwiMo: REVISE YOUR NOVEL IN A MONTH - TrailerPlotWriMo: Revise Your Novel in a Month includes 8 videos  (5.5 hours)  + 30 exercises total

0 Comments on Plot Tips for Introverts: How to Survive a Writers Conference as of 1/1/1900
Add a Comment
10. How to Show Character Mastery and Transformation through both the Internal and External Plots

The final quarter of your story bears the burden of getting your characters to the right place at the right time for one final confrontation and facilitate the final play that leads to success and ultimate transformation.

The scenes that comprise the final quarter of your story are filled with the tension of not knowing whether protagonist will win or fail at the climax.

Writing to the end of your story may very well be filling you with tension. Will I ever finish this thing???

Not just with your writing, you may find that with other parts of your life that somehow when your back was turned (though if you retraced scene by scene, you'd note the clear path) your antagonists have grown stronger and more determined and the stakes rise in intensity as you become more and more aware of all the ways you sabotage yourself from finishing and seizing that which you most desire (because, ultimately, no one else can fell us. We--us personally--are the only ones who give up).

Writers make symbolic gestures, like writing down specific daily writing goal and turning off the cable and removing the TV from the premises, as promises to their writing lives and living proof of their commitment to themselves to write. Such dedication and willingness to do what's demanded to succeed at your goal!

You've been making good progress and then Bam! Blindsided by a familiar antagonist you'd mistakenly believed was sleeping, the backstory wound you've patiently been been nursing to health activates. This time, rather than touch off your transformed emotional maturity, the blow sends you spiraling all the way back to your old ways of dealing with hurt and betrayal or whatever your backstory wound oozes by beating yourself up and/or raging. Even so, slowly, you find yourself recovering more quickly after each hit and back to writing or whatever your passion as you continue to internally incorporate the you that you are becoming. New strategies and actions you learned during the hard times now serve you well.

Each time you take positive, conscious steps toward your goal, you find yourself acting with more and more emotional maturity than at any other time in your life. You take responsibility for the pain you've suffered and inflicted to get to where you are now and suddenly delight, finding gifts awaiting you and gaining confidence as you prove to yourself and everyone around you that you're passionate about growing and changing. You begin to see how you yourself influence the action around you at your weakest and now through your new strength and determination and maturity.

In this last quarter proving ground on the way to mastery and your prize -- finishing your story, making peace with the past, falling in love again for the first time -- even as you fall back, you pick yourself up, learn, remind yourself of your goals and take the next step needed to move forward.

Today I write!
~~~~~~~~
For more: Read my Plot Whisperer and Blockbuster Plots books for writers.
~~~~
Need more help with your story? 
  • 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
PlotWwiMo: REVISE YOUR NOVEL IN A MONTH - TrailerPlotWriMo: Revise Your Novel in a Month includes 8 videos  (5.5 hours)  + 30 exercises total

0 Comments on How to Show Character Mastery and Transformation through both the Internal and External Plots as of 8/10/2014 5:05:00 PM
Add a Comment
11. A Compelling Concept Elicits: Tell Me More!

A writer asks about what concept to bring forward in the Concept, Logline, Pitch Workshop this weekend (8/9/14). She has several novels in-progress and complete (are our stories ever really complete? The longer we take to finish, the more time we have to grow and change which ultimately servers to deepen and enrich our work).


Her heart's desire speaks of something else entirely.

I explain about Saturday's workshop, you'll have 5 minutes in the morning and 5 minutes in the afternoon. You want to have a concept ready to go (watch the free Video #1 and also helpful is Video #3 in PlotWriMo: Revise Your Novel in a Month video series) so you can spend as much of the time allotted to you listening to Jill's feedback without feeling the need to defend yourself -- simply to listen and absorb what she says. She's really quite amazing at this. 

You'll be listening to so many other pitches that you'll begin to glean the method to creating them. So, I don't think it matters which story you pick as much as really perfecting your concept before pitching it to Jill Saturday.

About choosing which story to pitch, I share a painful learning experience from some pretty nasty reviews on Amazon for the Plot Whisperer: Secrets of Story Structure Any Writer Can Master book. You have to buck up and take it when you write outside the norm. I actually wasn't prepared for some of the more personal attacks and the lesson has been a tough one and very valuable for me to learn.

If we let our fear of exposure limit us and we back down, new ideas can't take flight. If not by you, the story goes unwritten.

A compelling concept elicits from your friends, readers, agents, editors, reviewers, audiences and fans: Tell me more!

Today I write.
~~~~~~~~

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

~~~~
Need more help with your story? 
  • 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
PlotWwiMo: REVISE YOUR NOVEL IN A MONTH - TrailerPlotWriMo: Revise Your Novel in a Month includes 8 videos  (5.5 hours)  + 30 exercises total

0 Comments on A Compelling Concept Elicits: Tell Me More! as of 8/4/2014 12:50:00 PM
Add a Comment
12. The Exact Right Beginning of Your Story -- How Do You Know for Sure?

We quickly cover the BIG Energetic Marker, nearly at the end, the Climax and I know already from the character profile and thematic statement that she's got a whopper of a story. (Is that even a word anymore? a whopper. Was it ever?) Her story is so timely, I want to nudge her to finish faster, go the distance, see her story with a plot all the way to the end. She's committed. And she's already done so much work.

When she finally settles on memoir rather than fiction (pros and cons on both sides) and gets to the start of the story, she grapples, which we all do -- where to begin. Having always

heard
heard and
heard 

start with a bang, an inciting incident, something big and dramatic to dazzle the agent, the editor, the reader, she begins with the biggest scene of all, an outrageously dramatic event and… seriously flawed.

For the reader to care about a death on the first page, she has to feel an immediate emotional tie and that bond is generally formed with the character. That's not to say that there aren't plenty of stories that work quite well with death on page one. Murder mysteries in particular demand it.

However, in other stories, why give away a huge scene fraught with conflicting emotions at the very beginning before the reader is settled and beginning to truly care about the characters and intrigued with the story and wanting more? The only way forward after that is to resort to flashbacks to fill in the missing pieces. Again, perfect for a murder mystery--the reader learns the clues as the protagonist solving the mystery.

Memoirs use lots of flashbacks and memories. In her case, that she can go linear by thematically and tightly linked cause and effect, the dream she weaves the reader into becomes more real and immediate and powerfully moving.

Readers don't always remember details at the very beginning of a story because they're scrambling to decide if they like the characters, can follow the plot and are ready to commit to reading forward.

Give them the huge scene at the 1st Energetic Marker; the End of the Beginning when the reader feels a part of the story, the characters more familiar to her than family and impatient to know what happens next. A death here means something. That it evokes anger pulls a very committed reader smack into the writer's exotic world of the middle.
(For more tips about where to begin your beginning: The Plot Whisperer Workbook Step-by-Step Exercises to Help You Create Compelling Stories)
~~~~
Need more help revising your story? 
  • 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. NEW and IMPROVED (including new and improved price!)

**Includes 8 videos  (5.5 hours)  + 30 exercises total
 ~~~~~~~~
For more: Read my Plot Whisperer and Blockbuster Plots books for writers.

0 Comments on The Exact Right Beginning of Your Story -- How Do You Know for Sure? as of 7/28/2014 7:36:00 PM
Add a Comment
13. How to Turn a Lackluster Middle into Page-turning Excitement

A writer revising the rough draft of a novel stalls in the middle where he finds some quirky, secondary characters, one of whom is a potential "romance plot" suitor, a couple of magical and mystical settings, several subplots of enchantment, various minor characters and… not much excitement. Appraising the long, dull corridor spanning the entire Middle, the writer despairs both at how to keep his revision ideas organized and, more importantly, how to amp up the tension and excitement.

Each secondary character and setting, subplot and minor character holds the potential for tension and excitement especially when paired against what the protagonist wants. This takes stepping back from the rough draft to dig deeper into the other characters individually, discovering their importance to the overall meaning of the story beyond helping the protagonist get to where she needs to go and devising goals and aspirations that interfere with the protagonist's goals and aspirations. This means you need to get to know these other characters as well as you know your protagonist.

In the rough draft, these secondary and minor cardboard characters served you while writing the protagonist's storyline. Now, in the revision, is their time to shine. Antagonists rule the middle and are there to teach the protagonist what she needs to know in order to prevail at the climax at the end. This learning is not easy and is fraught with dangerous and often unkind challenges.

Fill out a Character Profile for each character, defining goals in direct opposition to what the protagonist wants while also mirroring traits the protagonist is oblivious of and needs to confront and overcome over the course of the entire story.

(For more: Plot Whisperer and Blockbuster Plots books for writers and PlotWriMo: Revise Your Novel in a Month video series.)

0 Comments on How to Turn a Lackluster Middle into Page-turning Excitement as of 7/15/2014 3:23:00 PM
Add a Comment
14. Benefits of a Solid Concept and the Art of Pitching Your Story

Summer means Writers Conferences and pitching your story. You find yourself sitting at lunch next to a literary agent. How quickly and compellingly do you draw her into your story? How intriguing is your concept?

When friends ask what your story is about, rather than drone on about every single plot point, learn how to rattle off a pithy pitch that sends even people overhearing you begging for more.

Think of the concept and pitch as the seeds out of which grow action and characters interacting in a meaningful way.

Some writers won't write a word until they come up with a concept that renders them eager for more. Others don't tackle the task until they've finished writing and editing and are ready to query.

Wherever you are with your story, the time is never too early to ask yourself: What is your story about really? Brainstorm. Keep a notebook. Narrow down what your story is about to one or two lines and you're ready to pitch.

Concept, Logline, Pitch Workshop is the next workshop for all ages and all genres at A Path to Publishing.


Join literary agent and publishing insider Jill Corcoran and me and 22 other writers for the opportunity to refine your story concept, develop a log line and perfect your pitch.

0 Comments on Benefits of a Solid Concept and the Art of Pitching Your Story as of 7/11/2014 1:09:00 PM
Add a Comment
15. Pre-Plotting Made Simple

How to Pre-Plot:

1. Brainstorm ideas: Rough Sketch the 4 Energetic Markers on a Plot Planner

2. Test Concept Ideas for Feedback

3. Interview Your Main Characters

4. Write a Transformational Statement for Protagonist

5. Fill in Scene Ideas on your Plot Planner
  • Contrast Beginning and End
  • Exotic Middle World of the Antagonists
6. Write

~~~~~~~~

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

~~~~
Need more help with your story? 
  • 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

0 Comments on Pre-Plotting Made Simple as of 1/1/1900
Add a Comment
16. Cause and Effect Scene by Scene

Cause and effect within and between scenes allows you to seamlessly lead the reader to each major turning point by linking the cause in one scene to the effect in the next scene. This sequencing allows the energy of the story to rise smoothly.

If the sequence breaks down, scenes come out of the blue, and your story turns episodic. The reader, in turn, becomes disconcerted.

A story is made up of scenes with a clear dependence on each other. Conflict in a scene represents the motivating cause that sets a series of events in motion. As you test for cause and effect notice how some features of your story are more important than others. Look for patterns and see what elements lead to the thematic significance and which do not.

Scenes with No Cause and Effect 
As important as it is to study how scenes are linked by cause and effect, it’s just as important to analyze scenes with no line(s) linking them to others. Note any unexpected objects, locations, and actions in and between scenes deserve foreshadowing and earlier mentions and hints.

The reader (and the protagonist) doesn’t have an outline of the story and thus can only anticipate what is coming by discerning the clues given along the way by the use of foreshadowing. The life of the story takes on its own particular shape, and its sequence seems inevitable to the reader and audience because of foreshadowing.

Emotional Cause and Effect 
Use cause and effect to convey emotion in the protagonist. In one scene, a character responds emotionally to an event. In the next scene, we see the outcome of that emotional response, which, in turn, becomes the cause for another emotional effect. Each scene is organic; seeds planted in the first scene create the effect in the next.

Your Turn
Once again, push aside the words of your story. This time, stand back from it to determine the causality between scenes and the overall coherence of your story. View your story as a whole. With such an insight, you are better able to turn scenes with emotionally rich characters who are experiencing conflict into the driving force behind an exceptional story. Link scenes by cause and effect and each scene becomes organic = from the seeds you plant in the first scene grow the fruit of the next scene.
(Taken from: The Plot Whisperer Workbook Step-by-Step Exercises to Help You Create Compelling Stories)
~~~~

Need more help with your story? 
  • 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.

0 Comments on Cause and Effect Scene by Scene as of 1/1/1900
Add a Comment
17. Emotional Elements of Plot: Stories that Last Evoke Emotion

Dramatic action creates the pace of a story and determines the level of story excitement. The thematic significance reveals the meaning of the piece.
An emotional connection is fused between the reader and the story through the character emotional development. Not simply how a character develops and transforms physically and intellectually, outfoxing and out-thinking and out-performing an antagonist, readers feel an emotional connection through the development of a character’s emotional maturity. In other words, how a character develops emotionally and spiritually provides connection, identification and interest.

Emotion and Emotional Development 
How do the following two lists differ and how are they the same?

  • Honest
  • Courageous
  • Deceitful
  • Stingy
  • Fugal
  • Shy

Versus

  • Anger
  • Frustration
  • Pensive
  • Apologetic
  • Defensive
  • Happy


Each of the examples originates in the character. How they differ is one is a list of character traits. The second list is of emotions.

Character emotional development and emotional change are each an essential scene element. They both: sound alike are related are often confused

Character Emotional Development 
Showing how the character’s traits change and/or transform over the course of the entire story defines the character emotional development plot and the development of such is an essential element in every scene. The protagonist’s emotional development takes place over time and culminates at the end of the story in a lasting transformation. The character’s emotional development can be plotted from the beginning to the end of the story.

Emotional Change 
In every scene, the protagonist displays a range of emotion reactions to the dramatic action. How she reacts often is reflective of the burden she carries from her backstory. These emotions, which fluctuate within each scene, are usually transitory and fleeting. Showing your character’s emotions shift and change is an essential element in every scene.

Plot is how the events in a story directly impact the main character. Always, in the best-written stories, characters are emotionally affected by the events of the story. In great stories, the dramatic action transforms characters. This transformation makes a story meaningful. The dramatic action demands a goal. The character emotional development demands growth.

Steps toward Transformation 
Each obstacle and antagonist in the dramatic action plot provides the protagonist with opportunities to learn about herself and thus advance her character emotional development plot. Before she can transform, she first must become conscious of her strengths and weaknesses. Stories show a character changing, at the least, and transforming at the most profound. Often you can accomplish this by creating a flawed character. Eventually, she will have to face that flaw and overcome it in order to achieve her ultimate goal.

Examples of Character Flaws

  • Always the victim and unable to take responsibility for actions           
  • Control freak
  • Argumentative and short-tempered 
  • Liar and a cheat 
  • Stubborn 
  • Always has to be right 
  • Perfectionist 
  • Procrastinator 
  • Sits in judgment

The main character’s flaw establishes the protagonist’s level of emotional maturity and points to the potential for growth or transformation. Her flaw interferes with achieving her goal and riles up her emotions.

How to Use a Character Flaw 
A character flaw is a coping mechanism that arises from the loss of an original state of perfection that occurred in the character’s backstory. The character stores the emotion created by what happened in the backstory. Her flaw is designed to compensate for a perceived vulnerability, sense of insecurity, and feeling threatened.

No matter how confident, every major character demonstrates lessons learned from the wound inflicted in her backstory that now is lodged in her core belief system. In reaction, she often surrenders some or all of the authority over her own life to someone or something else.

Emotion in the Beginning 
The beginning of your story establishes who the character is, flaws and all. Your readers can look back to this portrait and compare it to who she becomes as she undergoes a transformation after the crisis. The portrait also foreshadows who she will be at the climax.

At the beginning of a story, the character’s emotional reactions help identify and introduce her. By the end of the beginning scene at the one-quarter mark of a story, all of the protagonist’s most defining traits, positive and negative have been introduced. This turning point scene reveals the most defining character trait of all.

What emotion does your protagonist communicate about entering the middle of the story?

  • eager 
  • reluctant 
  • resistant 

This choice of hers shows her defining character trait starting out the story:

  • courageous 
  • timid 
  • afraid 

Emotions Intensify in the Middle
The emotions the protagonist managed to keep in check in the beginning of the story begin to unravel in the chaos and uncertainty of the unfamiliar world in the middle of a story. Overwhelmed and fearful, challenged and hurt, the protagonist becomes vulner­able. Most importantly, the middle deepens the audience’s appreciation for the protagonist’s emotional maturity, or lack thereof, by her emotional reactions as the obstacles become more difficult to surmount.

All the outer events, ordeals, successes, and failures of the character constitute the dramatic action of a story and provide the catalyst for change. The farther the protagonist penetrates into the new world of the middle and the more obstacles she confronts, the character’s emotional defenses begin to break down and her emotions turn bleaker and darker. Unable to function at a superficial level any longer, she begins to experience heightened emotions, ones that touch the core of her being. When she is prevented from reaching her goal, her emotional reaction changes subtly over time, flicking back and forth in the scene like a trapped fly.

Emotional Maturity 
One of the defining elements of the final quarter of a story are the number of complications the protagonist is slapped the nearer she moves toward achieving her goal. With each complication, the protagonist suffers some sort of reversal. Yet, unlike the reversals in the middle of the story, the protago­nist no longer loses power even if she is physically, mentally or emotionally restrained or injured. As the character emotional development changes, her emotional expression changes, too. What begins with the display of emotional upheaval transforms into emotional maturity.

At the end of a story, as a result of the action on the page, the character’s transformation is revealed through the change in her choices and in her emotional responses from how she acted in the beginning and in the middle. 

The plot of a story is about a character faced with a series of conflicts and obstacles while in pursuit of a goal, which, over time, inspire her to change her choices. In the end, she is transformed, and her ultimate transformation creates her anew with a different understanding of herself and her existence.
 ~~~~~~~~
For more: Read my Plot Whisperer and Blockbuster Plots books for writers
~~~~~~~~~
Time to rewrite 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? 
  • Wishing 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

0 Comments on Emotional Elements of Plot: Stories that Last Evoke Emotion as of 6/24/2014 11:25:00 AM
Add a Comment
18. 17 Steps to Becoming an Effective Communicator with the Muse

A romance writer awakens with her right eye swollen. I suggest that a male in her life wants her to open-up to something she’s refusing or unable to see (issues on the right side of the body often have to do with male energy. The right is female. Eyes = sight).


Her eyes widen and she quickly mumbles that she needs to get to know her male protagonist better as if she knows what I’m talking about. I don't need to know what's going on. Only she does and she did.

How real are the muses that have been credited throughout history for all that writers and musicians and artists create? Does something outside of ourselves truly “sing through” us when we write? What if that same energy or spirit communicates with us in other ways, too? Messages sent through our bodies and through the natural world at large to help guide us from one success to the next with clues and signals how to by-pass negative emotions and reside in a place of emotional maturity?

If you knew the muse to be true, would you listen? Could you be open? Should you be trusting? 

17 Steps to Becoming an Effective Communicator with the Muse
  • Give yourself the time needed to daydream and doodle, take quiet walks in nature and quiet your mind enough to truly listen
  • Be open to all different expressions of inspiration and ideas 
  • Ask for specific help in solving problems creatively and for real understanding 
  • Invite the muse in and feel understood
  • Create an environment where the muse feels safe to open up 
  • Rid yourself of negative emotions 
  • Avoid interrupting the muse 
  • Avoid judging what comes 
  • Watch for signs from the muse
  • Ask for signs
  • Jot down what you see and hear and intuit
  • Become aware of nature around you
  • Look for meaning in what you come across, notice, are drawn to
  • Relinquish your opinions and control over what you think you need or want to provide space and acceptance for new ideas and opportunities 
  • Show you’re interested and open to inspiration 
  • Accept the communication that comes to you without criticism or judgment
  • Show interest in what the muse is sharing with you by taking notes, writing furiously, giving thanks 

0 Comments on 17 Steps to Becoming an Effective Communicator with the Muse as of 6/20/2014 11:55:00 AM
Add a Comment
19. Expand Your Creativity through the Universal Story

None of us were born yesterday. If you believe the past shapes the future, then the life we live right now was decided a long time ago.


We make up stories in our imaginations about each other to explain what causes people to act and say what they do. We make up stories about our own lives and behavior, too, stories that motivate us to do what we do.

Memories of the past, whether five minutes ago or fifty years, come to us in the form of stories. The stories we tell ourselves define the emotional stakes of our lives. In storytelling, a character’s backstory refers to events and emotions that take place earlier than when the action of the story is taking place.

Understanding your own backstory allows you a glimpse into why you act the way you do, what prevents you from reaching your goals and better appreciate the road you took to get here.

If you've ever looked at your life and wondered how you got to this point and how ever will you get back to where you truly want to be, if, that is, you knew where exactly that might be, by shedding the stories you tell yourself decides what happens next in your life.

Every backward-glance in our lives is an invitation to add to or subtract from the general narrative we tell ourselves, often obsessively, until our mind believes the story as the truth and becomes the story we live by. Some stories we make up about events in our lives have beginnings, middles and ends. Other stories we listen to are fragments. Sometimes we become so close to the stories of the past that any little reminder: a crude gesture, a withering glance, the whiff of perfume, and we again relive a past that is always present.

We can go back in time and fix and change what haunts us today. Turn to the Universal Story and create a new story. Discover the stories you tell yourself and rediscover emotions and pieces of yourself you’ve forgotten or thought were lost forever. Lift yourself out of the past. Seize the life you've always dreamed.

0 Comments on Expand Your Creativity through the Universal Story as of 6/3/2014 3:15:00 PM
Add a Comment
20. A Love Letter to Writers

1) She asks if her ideas, her story is silly. I can't answer that for her. Only she can. I see her as a miracle, a jewel, a divine creation. How can anything silly come out of that?

 What I hear? Self-doubt and limiting self-beliefs likely based in criticism heard and internalized along the way? When you ask if your story is silly, dumb, stupid, say it out loud. My story is silly. How does that feel? Sound to you? Truth? I am silly. Really? Are you sure about that? Be careful what you say about yourself. Your spirit hears your every word.

2) She asks if she should waste her time on the story -- is it worthy? What I hear? Should I waste my time showing up for myself and my story? Am I worthy? Again, only she can answer that. When you're visited by the muse and the story won't leave you alone, there are mighty forces beyond simply you wanting this story manifested. If not by you, the story goes unwritten.

3) A meltdown around the Recommitment phase. This is too hard. I don't get it. I can't do it. When I grab her by the shoulders to help ground her back in the here-and-now and out of the past of other difficult times in her life, I encourage her to view what is happening to her in the light of the Universal Story. She's being called to show up and do the work. Internal antagonists block her way. I ask her to reclaim her own individual power. Suddenly shining out from hiding and fear, the light of her spirit flickers and hope seems to fill her body as she shakes her head and straightens her shoulders. She looks at me as if I'm not there as the truth of who she truly is reawakens. She exclaims how she's never heard of such things. In her smile, I know she's tapped into a truth she's always know and only now is beginning to remember again what once she knew for sure.

4) She's writing today because I asked her to commit to writing everyday. If her commitment to me helps her show up for herself, so be it. When we commit to others, our spirits are listening. When we let down ourselves by not valuing our commitment to ourselves, we hurt our own spirit.

5) She apologizes before she begins reading. It's not very good. I haven't written forever. This is my first stab at writing again after years of doubt. It's rough. Not very good. Don't ever apologize for yourself, for your writing. You're showing up, doing the work. Hold tight to your own personal power. Don't let the demons of doubt and poor self-worth overpower your deepest beliefs. Sure they may be hiding in the muck and gore of your backstory wound. The belief in your splendor lies there, too. You know it. At least your spirit does and is patiently, heartbreakingly patiently waiting for the day you remember it, too.

What I understand now after having spent more than a year painstakingly healing my own backstory wound is how wrong I've been. I write in the Plot Whisperer books about the protagonist (and thus, the writer, too) reclaiming her own personal power that she'd relinquished along to way to a false belief system, betrayal, hurt, pain, criticism, judgment.

Yet, seizing your own personal power often leads to a crisis because the use and development of your own personal power belies the real truth. Standing in your own personal power puts you in direct opposition to someone else's power and ends up perpetuating duality = struggle.

The real strength lies, not in your own personal power. Rather, your real strength and the source of all strength lies at the heart of the Universal Story -- in the power of love.

0 Comments on A Love Letter to Writers as of 6/5/2014 1:27:00 PM
Add a Comment
21. Thematic Significance Statement Defines Every Story Decision

Writers toss out story themes. Theme words grow into what one romance writer aptly labels as tropes = common or overused themes or devises. Tropes typically become overused or cliched because they squarely connect with a universal truth.


A thematic significance statement intended to embody the heart and meaning of your own particular story often begins with a trope. After writing a couple of drafts and with a better understanding of what all the words in your story add up to, now tack on at either the beginning or the end of the trope a qualifying phrase that turns a common theme specific to your story and your story alone.

During a plot consultation, having plotted out all the scenes, we reach the re-development, deepening and refining of that ever elusive thematic significance statement phase. Having starred and circled theme words that popped out during the consultation, I add them to the list he rattles off that his critique group, quite familiar with his story, helped generate (and seem to breath through the speaker at the other end of the phone).

He articulates a thematic statement that is character-centric. Yet his story is so much broader and more meaningful than simply the change to the character. Yes, dramatic action that changes and transforms a character over time makes a story meaningful. However, what that change or character transformation brings to the culture and the community and the family at large is the true thematic significance statement in a story that revolves around the culture and the community and the family and brings thematic significance to the story as a whole.

A thematic significance statement attempts to unite broad universal truths with the specific words you choose for your own individual story. Suddenly, characters snap to attention finally with a clear intent of their own unique contribution to the overall story, confusing subplots crystalize with meaning and symbolism, random incidents become deliberate, minor moments grow sublime.

Write a couple of drafts, smooth the thematic significance into a coherent and meaning statement and then let the real fun begin. A thematic significance statement for your overall story turns the challenge of making every word perfect attainable.

For specific exercises to develop your own individual Thematic Significance Statement: The Plot Whisperer Workbook Step-by-Step Exercises to Help You Create Compelling Stories)
~~~~
Need more help with your story? 
  • 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

0 Comments on Thematic Significance Statement Defines Every Story Decision as of 1/1/1900
Add a Comment
22. A Soul Shattering Tip How to Plot the End of Your Novel, Memoir, Screenplay

October 17, 1989, at 5:04:15 p.m. (PDT), the epicenter of a magnitude 6.9 earthquake hit nearly smack in my garden. The doorframe I clutched shifted erratically, the floor beneath me shook, the house creaked and moaned and all water in the little neighborhood pool rose up into the air and broke over the side. As Robert Page, U.S. Geological Survey writes of the event:


"It was a wakeup call to prepare for the potentially even more devastating shocks that are inevitable in the future."

That's sort of like what happens to the protagonist when hit by the Crisis around the three quarter mark of your story. The ground shakes, uncovering all illusions about herself and the world around her, leaving her blinded by the truth of her own insignificance.

What truly defines the protagonist is what she does after the crisis. From one extreme of intense vulnerability to another of shame and discomfort WHILE also knowing she had a part to play in her own demise AND that the crisis is merely a wakeup call to prepare her for the potentially even more devastating shocks that are inevitable in the future.

Her motivation must be strong and meaningful to go forward in the face of such torment. So much easier to get lost in the haze of addictions and self-loathing… oh, that's the human condition. For your protagonist, there is no stopping beyond a spell of reflection, gathering resources and allies and letting go of everything that no longer serves her.

At the point she steps over into the last quarter of the story to gain her true freedom, the End begins. 

Along the way on her ascent to the Climax, quake your story with some of those inevitable and more devastating aftershocks. Entering the End she's wobbly, uncertain, and highly vulnerable. Her emotions are at their peak. The hits give her chances to stretch beyond who she was beforethe crisis, come into mastery or at least a firm grip of all the lessons and knowledge she's gained and prepare her for the Climax where she demonstrates who she is becoming.

0 Comments on A Soul Shattering Tip How to Plot the End of Your Novel, Memoir, Screenplay as of 6/11/2014 3:13:00 AM
Add a Comment
23. Beginnings Hook Readers. Endings Create Fans

Some reasons why I nearly always begin a plot workshop, consultation, presentation at the Climax:

  • Fresh start 
  • Shakes things up
  • Pulls writers out of their comfort zone
  • Forces writers to move beyond the character's backstory into the real story
  • Key elements reveal themselves at the end&nbsp
  • Beginning emerge from the end
  • When you know how your story ends, you are better able to determine where to begin
  • Most writers write the beginning 100 times and are lucky if they write the climax even once
  • Writing the end seals the promise you can write from the beginning and get there
  • The climax becomes the beacon that guides you to finish
~~~~
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


0 Comments on Beginnings Hook Readers. Endings Create Fans as of 6/13/2014 1:11:00 PM
Add a Comment
24. Writer Path Retreat Photo Montage





Friday, May 30th, 2014,







Jordan Rosenfeld

and I meet up at Mt. Madonna

before the 18 intrepid writers who signed up for our weekend writers retreat. Our spacious cabin greets us. Anticipation envelopes us. The first writer arrives.

So begins the 1st even Writer Path Plot and Scene Retreat.
 









Sign-ups now available for next year's Writer Path Retreat May 1st - 3rd, 2015!

0 Comments on Writer Path Retreat Photo Montage as of 6/17/2014 11:57:00 AM
Add a Comment
25. Character Emotional Development: Transformation and Emotional Maturity

The emotional steadiness your protagonist develops in a story (character emotional development plot) from all that happens to her (dramatic action plot), I call change, maturity, transformation, transcendence (your genre and your story -- action-driven | character-driven -- define the level of character development that fits the underlying meaning of your own individual story).

The lessons she learns in the middle, having suffered greatly and paid dearly, lead to this change at the end of the story. All of the lessons and wisdom and skills and abilities she learns are critical for her ultimate success at the Climax.

Some abilities and skills are external and necessary to complete the dramatic action plot. Others are internal. All of the internal lessons and wisdom gained point directly to emotional maturity as shown by the protagonist's ability to understand and manage at the end those same emotions that continually tripped her up in the beginning and then felled her in the middle of the story.

Characters who have endured trauma, deception, abandonment, betrayal, abuse, pain, loss, sadness either before the story begins or during the story and are left unhealed (backstory wound) typically become emotionally stuck at the time and place of the trauma. For her to achieve her goal, she must first become conscious of her backstory wound and then move towards healing the past in order to successfully move into the future.

The following are some traits that point to emotional immaturity (as shown in the beginning and deepened in the middle of the story) compared to emotional maturity (as shown at the end of the story):

  • Rigid versus Flexible = Willing to adapt. Open to change
  • Own Desires versus Delayed Gratification = Ability to keep long-term commitments
  • Blaming versus Responsible = Acceptance of current life circumstances as a result of personal decisions
  • Knowledge versus Vision = Visualize a solution and research best course of action
  • Reactive versus Proactive = Value-based decision-making
  • All the Answers versus Personal Growth = Desire to learn and seek counsel
  • Self-conscious versus We are All One = Possesses a spirit of humility
  • Narrow-minded versus Alternative Views = Open to others' opinions and views
  • Critical versus Non-judgemental = Respect for others' right to their beliefs
  • Entitled versus Grateful = Appreciative
  • Shutdown versus Resilient = Express disappointments, plot a plan, move on
  • Erratic Mood Swings versus Calm Demeanor = Peaceful state of mind
  • Uncooperative versus Realistic Optimism = Willingness to seek out opportunities
  • Removed & Shutdown versus Approachable = Actively building relationships
  • Shaken versus Steady = Secure in who you are
  • Intense versus Humor = Don't take yourself too seriously
~~~~
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? 
  • Wishing 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

0 Comments on Character Emotional Development: Transformation and Emotional Maturity as of 6/18/2014 11:03:00 AM
Add a Comment

View Next 25 Posts