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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.
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1. 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. Brainstorm for all possible ideas to create more conflict and excitement and then hone them to fit your story.

Today I write.

Join me May 1st at 10am Pacific and learn 10 Tips to Immediately Create Great Plots: Everything You Need to Plot a Great Story

~~~~~~~~
PLOT WORKSHOPS and RETREATS

WRITER PATH PLOT and SCENE RETREATS in the heart of the Santa Cruz Mountains. May 30 – June 1 Your story deserves to be told. Your writer’s soul needs to be nourished. Learn to identify and write the key scenes that build a page-turning story, master crucial scene types and go deeper into your plot by applying the three key layers that run through all great fiction: action, emotion and theme. Reserve your spot now for the 1st Annual Writer Path Retreat Spring 2014.

A PATH to PUBLISHING
Pre-orders now available for an entirely new support system based on PlotWriMo for writers ready to Revise Your Novel in a Month.

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

0 Comments on An Essential Element of Scene: Excitement (or Conflict, Tension, Suspense and/or Curiosity) as of 4/21/2014 2:11:00 PM
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2. 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.

Want to 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.
~~~~~~~~
PLOT WORKSHOPS and RETREATS

WRITER PATH PLOT and SCENE RETREATS in the heart of the Santa Cruz Mountains. May 30 – June 1 Your story deserves to be told. Your writer’s soul needs to be nourished. Learn to identify and write the key scenes that build a page-turning story, master crucial scene types and go deeper into your plot by applying the three key layers that run through all great fiction: action, emotion and theme. Reserve your spot now for the 1st Annual Writer Path Retreat Spring 2014.

A PATH to PUBLISHING
Pre-orders now available for an entirely new support system based on PlotWriMo for writers ready to Revise Your Novel in a Month.

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

0 Comments on HoHum Story Concept? Energize through Thematic Significance as of 4/16/2014 3:33:00 PM
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3. 15 Tips How-to Write a Novel with a Blockbuster Plot

BLOCKBUSTER 
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 
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.
~~~~~~~~
PLOT WORKSHOPS and RETREATS

WRITER PATH PLOT and SCENE RETREATS in the heart of the Santa Cruz Mountains. May 30 – June 1 Join Jordan Rosenfeld and me deep in the Santa Cruz Mountains. Your story deserves to be told. Your writer’s soul needs to be nourished. Learn to identify and write the key lynch-pin scenes that build a page-turning story, master crucial scene types and go deeper into your plot by applying the three key layers that run through all great fiction: action, emotion and theme. Reserve your spot now for the 1st Annual Writer Path Retreat Spring 2014.

A PATH to PUBLISHING
Pre-orders now available for an entirely new support system based on PlotWriMo for writers ready to Revise Your Novel in a Month.

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

0 Comments on 15 Tips How-to Write a Novel with a Blockbuster Plot as of 4/8/2014 11:31:00 AM
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4. Plot the Climax, Write the Climax, Re-Vision the Climax and Then Re-Write the Climax of Your Story

I love her confidence and energy and enthusiasm. She captures ideas and events and scenes from a vivid imagination, pins them into a beginning, middle and end, sets up a series of plot consultations with me, shares characters and goals and action until they shape themselves into a story with a plot ~ and what a plot she has!

Last novel we did this way and she wrote from beginning to end is now in the hands of an agent who asked for the entire manuscript. Last novel took 4 two-hour sessions to plot from beginning to end over several weeks. This novel, we finished in 3 two-hour sessions. As we were plotting, she was writing. Lots of scenes have been written. She's eager to write the entire novel from beginning to end.

She's in the flow of the creative process and in the flow of a working writer ~~ submitting one novel while beginning another novel. Seems to have few if any internal flaws interfering with her progress. She's open to change and different ideas, not at all attached to her 1st ideas, more concerned with the good of the story itself. She demonstrates lots of strengths supporting her progress. I'm thrilled for her -- an empowered writer who isn't letting anything stand in her way of success.

The climax of her current novel deepens her fast-paced, external dramatic action concept in a truly exotic world and time into an exploration of a unique and unexpected ending, one that leads readers to ponder outside the genre towards new ways of acting and all the way into what's possible even in our real world today.

I love her for clearing time for us to thoroughly discuss the climax. What she starts with feels right, in a predictable sort-of-way. Yes, the story is all about big, loud external moments and the climax more than satisfies that pace and mood and tone. She's willing to explore something more meaningful and different to leave the reader not only satisfied--wanting more. She has "been so careful not to use clichéd phrases, metaphors, and settings and have worked to make every element uniquely your own. Why settle for a trite ending? When a character rises in triumph at the climax, what does she look like, act like? In the resolution, what does the world look like now that she is new and different and transformed and has shared the gift she came to share? Everyone is looking for answers. Stories offer a new vision to replace the old, especially now that so much of the old world order falls apart.

"That fabulous beginning of your story and that wild twist in the middle do not count nearly as much as to a reader as the end of the story. Sure, you hope she looks back and sees how everything is seamlessly tied together. In fact, what she’s going to think about first is how the story ends. Readers and audiences are affected first and foremost emotionally by the story they read, whether the story evokes fear or anger, joy and celebration, or sadness and resignation. Connecting with readers emotionally to the point they become instinctively involved in the story is the dream of every writer. The best place to search for this emotional effect is at the climax.

Think different. Look beyond the words and sentences and scenes to the deeper pattern of your story. Every protagonist begins a story wanting something. The real reason that she goes after what she wants never (or rarely) is her stated reason. In fact, at the end of the story the protagonist can, and often does, fail at her stated goal. The reader cares because she knows the protagonist has actually won what she wanted and all that really matters is herself. She has gained self-knowledge and because of that she has been changed and transformed. After having all of her layers stripped away one by one as false or unreliable, the protagonist reaches the point where she either must break down and live an unlived life or stand straight and rely on herself. To do that, first she must find the self on which she can rely. This is why often in a story, the protagonist’s stated goal fades and is replaced by the real goal.

"Writers today must reach, think differently, and stretch when it comes to writing the climax of a story. A protagonist’s actions at the climax inspire the reader to think big and different and grow and evolve. Get the ending just right and deliver the greatest impact.

"Discarded along the Way. Often writers discard scene ideas for the climax, thinking they’re not good enough, important enough, or worthy enough. After the work you’ve completed in this workbook, you may now see these discarded scenes in a different light. Perhaps you spot something of tremendous value in that scene you earlier abandoned. Now is a great time to explore those ideas that seemed once to hold no promise. Stretch the boundaries of your current writing skills and risk trying something new for your climax.

***A fixed mindset about how a story should end is much less successful than a growth mindset. Some writers are afraid of what others will say about them if they write a climax that does not fit the image they portray to the outside world. Push your abilities. Open up to new ideas. Take risks. Expect some real climax failures as you come up with new ideas. Failures are a sign you have taken on a challenge. Taking on writing challenges expands your writing skills." (excerpted from: Plot Whisperer Workbook: Step-by-Step Exercises to Help You Create Compelling Stories

Today I write.
~~~~~~~~
PLOT WORKSHOPS and RETREATS

WRITER PATH PLOT and SCENE RETREATS in the heart of the Santa Cruz Mountains. May 30 – June 1 Join Jordan Rosenfeld and me deep in the Santa Cruz Mountains. Your story deserves to be told. Your writer’s soul needs to be nourished. Learn to identify and write the key lynch-pin scenes that build a page-turning story, master crucial scene types and go deeper into your plot by applying the three key layers that run through all great fiction: action, emotion and theme. Reserve your spot now for the 1st Annual Writer Path Retreat Spring 2014.

A PATH to PUBLISHING using the Plot Whisperer Workbook: Step-by-Step Exercises to Help You Create Compelling Stories
Coming soon, an entirely new support system for writers ready to revise their novels in a month. Plus, live online video chat technology. Follow for news: apathtopublishing.com

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

0 Comments on Plot the Climax, Write the Climax, Re-Vision the Climax and Then Re-Write the Climax of Your Story as of 3/31/2014 7:59:00 PM
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5. Plot for Middle Grade and Young Adult Stories: Plot Your Story Scene-by-Scene to Emotionally Engage Your Readers

The handout below is from a plot talk at the recent San Francisco Writer's Conference: Plot for Middle Grade and Young Adult Stories: Plot Your Story Scene-by-Scene to Emotionally Engage Your Readers.

I share points that serve writers of all genres and for all ages again now in honor of the plot workshops I'm teaching in Los Angeles this weekend. The Society of Children Book Writers and Illustrators known as SCBWI hosts LA Writers' Days this weekend: Saturday, March 22 and Sunday, the 23rd. They have generously opened up my 5-hour Plot Intensive on Sunday to all writers. Tapping into the ancient structure of the Universal Story leads to enduring stories of all genres and for all ages. You do not have to register for the entire event.

Develop a Multi-Layered Plot for your Middle Grade Fiction and Young Adult Novels 
Bring your ideas, rough drafts, and beginning drafts rewritten 50 times and final manuscripts. Leave with an advanced understanding of how the action and emotion and meaning work together in your individualized story. Plot springs from character in conflict. Readers emotionally connect through tension shown in scene. Learn about the character emotional transformational plot, dramatic action plot and thematic significance plot, and how to apply the energy of the Universal Story to your unique project. You will be given the opportunity to explore your protagonist in new ways and practice using your scenes to create a Plot Planner for your latest project. Writing is challenging enough. A personalized Plot Planner keeps the plot(s) of your story in line.

MG and YA PLOT
Make protagonist’s flaw interfere with reaching her goal and establish in scene #1
Generate fluctuating emotion in every scene

and

Yes to a protagonist changing & transforming and becoming more emotionally mature
Assign protagonist’s goal the day before story begins and establish in scene #1


Pre-plot the 4 Energetic Markers as soon as possible
Locate the emotional moment in your story
Open your story with a character minus the skills, strengths and abilities needed at climax
Turn episodic events into scenes with cause and effect

Hope to see you Sunday!

Today I write.
~~~~~~~~
PLOT WORKSHOPS and RETREATS

WRITER PATH PLOT and SCENE RETREATS in the heart of the Santa Cruz Mountains. May 30 – June 1 Join Jordan Rosenfeld and me deep in the Santa Cruz Mountains. Your story deserves to be told. Your writer’s soul needs to be nourished. Learn to identify and write the key lynch-pin scenes that build a page-turning story, master crucial scene types and go deeper into your plot by applying the three key layers that run through all great fiction: action, emotion and theme. Reserve your spot now for the 1st Annual Writer Path Retreat Spring 2014.

A PATH to PUBLISHING using the Plot Whisperer Workbook: Step-by-Step Exercises to Help You Create Compelling Stories
Coming soon, an entirely new support system for writers ready to revise their novels in a month. Plus, live online video chat technology. Follow for news: apathtopublishing.com

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

0 Comments on Plot for Middle Grade and Young Adult Stories: Plot Your Story Scene-by-Scene to Emotionally Engage Your Readers as of 3/19/2014 10:03:00 PM
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6. How to Draw the Universal Story Line

A writer's difficulty drawing a Plot Planner line inspires this post. The first time we met at a plot workshop/retreat, literary agent Jill Corcoran asked me to draw the line for her. Her enthusiastic endorsement of my linear approach to a creative process later led to the Plot Whisperer books.

Writers who have been showing up weekly for the past ten weeks as part of the Plot from Beginning to End Series have begun sharing plot planners. One writer is waiting for her physicist husband to draw the line for her. Another writer has constructed four boards, one for each part of the Universal Story.

The Plot Planner lines I share are so straight and clear in an attempt to support my rather chaotic imagination. Mostly they're so perfect because that's the way people who have created my graphics have drawn them.

I'd love to have an artistic rendering that gives freedom to writers that whatever they draw is good enough. And good enough is perfect.

In the meantime, I wish I could be there to personally draw the line for you.

Today I write.
~~~~~~~~
PLOT WORKSHOPS and RETREATS
A PATH to PUBLISHING using the Plot Whisperer Workbook: Step-by-Step Exercises to Help You Create Compelling Stories
Choose the NOVEL TRACK or the PICTURE BOOK TRACK for 4, 10 and 16-week workshops to ensure you understand concept, plotting, character development, scene development, action and emotional arc development, as well has how to pitch your work to agents, editors, and readers. Live online video chat technology. I recommend writers of all genres and all ages take at least one picture book plot workshop. Narrows all plot concepts down to 28 pages and 500 words for clarity.

WRITER PATH PLOT and SCENE RETREATS in the heart of the Santa Cruz MountainsYour story deserves to be told. Your writer’s soul needs to be nourished. Over a weekend you’ll learn how to identify and write the key lynch-pin scenes that build a page-turning story, master crucial scene types and go deeper into your plot by applying the three key layers that run through all great fiction: action, emotion and theme. Reserve your spot now for the 1st Annual Writer Path Retreat.

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

0 Comments on How to Draw the Universal Story Line as of 3/18/2014 1:37:00 PM
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7. Writer Path's First Annual Deep Plot & Scene Retreat

I no longer remember which idea came first, the writer's retreat? I think we first talked about collaborating on a plot and scene book. Out of that came a contract from Writers Digest for DEEP SCENES: Plotting Your Story, Scene-by-Scene Through Action, Emotion and Theme. Writer Path's First Annual Deep Plot and Scene Retreat with Martha Alderson and Jordan Rosenfeld came next.

Your story deserves to be told. Your writer's soul needs to be nourished. From Friday, May 30th to Sunday June 1st, 2014, on this all-inclusive weekend retreat you'll plot to the heart of your story at the scene level and go deeper than ever before. (Lodging and meals are included in registration fee).

Be the first to apply NEW material from our forthcoming book from Writer's Digest (Fall 2015). Over the course of the weekend you’ll learn how to identify and write the key lynch-pin scenes of your plot backbone that build a page-turning story, master crucial scene types, and go deeper into your plot by layering the three key elements of all great fiction: Action, Emotion & Theme.

Join us deep in the beautiful Santa Cruz mountains, surrounded by forest, woodland creatures, beautiful open vistas and the necessary silence to help you replenish. You can take advantage of on-site yoga and massage at your leisure, as well. Whether revising or beginning a new project, you’ll emerge with a mastery of your plot, a scene tracker, and a calm, quiet, nourished soul. 

Our retreat is created for:
Writers with an existing plot and manuscript
Writers with an idea for a new plot not yet written
Writers grappling with changes to a plot
Writers in need of better structure
Writers at the beginning of their writing journey
Writers who are seeking to publish their work
Writers who wish to understand the intricate relationship between plot

Today I write.
~~~~~~~~
PLOT WORKSHOPS and RETREATS
A PATH to PUBLISHING using the Plot Whisperer Workbook: Step-by-Step Exercises to Help You Create Compelling Stories
Choose the NOVEL TRACK or the PICTURE BOOK TRACK for 4, 10 and 16-week workshops to ensure you understand concept, plotting, character development, scene development, action and emotional arc development, as well has how to pitch your work to agents, editors, and readers. Live online video chat technology. I recommend writers of all genres and all ages take at least one picture book plot workshop. Narrows all plot concepts down to 28 pages and 500 words for clarity.

WRITER PATH PLOT and SCENE RETREATS in the heart of the Santa Cruz MountainsYour story deserves to be told. Your writer’s soul needs to be nourished. Over a weekend you’ll learn how to identify and write the key lynch-pin scenes that build a page-turning story, master crucial scene types and go deeper into your plot by applying the three key layers that run through all great fiction: action, emotion and theme. Reserve your spot now for the 1st Annual Writer Path Retreat.

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

0 Comments on Writer Path's First Annual Deep Plot & Scene Retreat as of 3/13/2014 10:11:00 PM
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8. Character Motivation: What is Her True Journey?

Some people believe that we incarnate in the world to heal a specific wound that, at birth, we forget. Most of us spend our lives unconscious of this deeper destiny.

The opposite is true when writing a story. What happens throughout the story makes it impossible for the protagonist to remain unconscious. The Crisis in the Middle forces the protagonist to consciousness. This gives her the ability to face the greatest challenge of the entire story -- the Climax at the End and not only survive but to triumph.

The Climax at the End usually hits a scene or chapter from the last page of the project. By then, the protagonist has learned everything she needs to know, scene-by-scene throughout the entire story, to do what she came here to do.

The End feels inevitable because every scene that comes before the Climax has led the reader scene-by-scene to that very moment.

ASSIGNMENT 

Answer the following:
1) What is your protagonist's true journey? Purpose?
2) What is it that only your protagonist can do? Deliver? Conquer? Overcome?
3) What is the gift only your character has (granted they have to go through all the trial and challenges throughout the story to get there, but...)?
4) Why your character?
(Excerpts from the Plot Whisperer Workbook: Step-by-Step Exercises to Help You Create Compelling Stories)

Today I write.
~~~~~~~~
PLOT WORKSHOPS and RETREATS
A PATH to PUBLISHING using the Plot Whisperer Workbook: Step-by-Step Exercises to Help You Create Compelling Stories
Choose the NOVEL TRACK or the PICTURE BOOK TRACK for 4, 10 and 16-week workshops to ensure you understand concept, plotting, character development, scene development, action and emotional arc development, as well has how to pitch your work to agents, editors, and readers. Live online video chat technology. I recommend writers of all genres and all ages take at least one picture book plot workshop. Narrows all plot concepts down to 28 pages and 500 words for clarity.

WRITER PATH PLOT and SCENE RETREATS in the heart of the Santa Cruz MountainsYour story deserves to be told. Your writer’s soul needs to be nourished. Over a weekend you’ll learn how to identify and write the key lynch-pin scenes that build a page-turning story, master crucial scene types and go deeper into your plot by applying the three key layers that run through all great fiction: action, emotion and theme. Reserve your spot now for the 1st Annual Writer Path Retreat.

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

0 Comments on Character Motivation: What is Her True Journey? as of 3/9/2014 3:40:00 PM
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9. The Power of Facing the Crisis of Your Novel, Memoir, Screenplay

I'm jumping for joy! Rather than the usual struggle defining the Crisis of their stories, most of the writers today in our 16-week A PATH to PUBLISHING Plot Whisperer Workbook Series, not only nailed the crisis, they are also writing, facing fears, standing up for themselves, and one writer today even announced she felt not only is her writing improving, her entire life is, too. Oh, I am over-the-moon. I know, cliche. I'm giddy. I'm just so darn happy for the writers not only having survived this week -- defining and writing the crisis often sets off a personal crisis as well -- actually flourishing and transforming, too.

This workshop series is the first time I've had the pleasure of taking a group of writers page-by-page through Plot Whisperer Workbook: Step-by-Step Exercises to Help You Create Compelling Stories identifying, planning, plotting, doing the exercises, considering all the various plot elements, filling in Plot Planners and Scene Trackers for their own individual stories (along with Literary Agent Jill Corcoran with her amazing insight). Incredible experience for me. I'm so happy and fulfilled to believe the experience is proving helpful to the writers, too. I wish all writers using the workbook had such support. The urge to go back rather than forge ahead into the hell of the crisis is tough to overcome. Yet all the writers today proved that it's not only possible, the effort brings forth unexpected gifts.

Oh, and also today! My other inspired/inspiring cohort Jordan Rosenfeld and I are giving away Amazon gift cards as thanks for your patience while the WRITER PATH PLOT and SCENE RETREATS  website was down. We're up and running again! Really looking forward to a blissful weekend at the end of May in the Redwood forest of the Santa Cruz mountains.

Today I write.
~~~~~~~~
PLOT WORKSHOPS and RETREATS
A PATH to PUBLISHING using the Plot Whisperer Workbook: Step-by-Step Exercises to Help You Create Compelling Stories
Choose the NOVEL TRACK or the PICTURE BOOK TRACK for 4, 10 and 16-week workshops to ensure you understand concept, plotting, character development, scene development, action and emotional arc development, as well has how to pitch your work to agents, editors, and readers. Live online video chat technology. I recommend writers of all genres and all ages take at least one picture book plot workshop. Narrows all plot concepts down to 28 pages and 500 words for clarity.

WRITER PATH PLOT and SCENE RETREATS in the heart of the Santa Cruz MountainsYour story deserves to be told. Your writer’s soul needs to be nourished. Over a weekend you’ll learn how to identify and write the key lynch-pin scenes that build a page-turning story, master crucial scene types and go deeper into your plot by applying the three key layers that run through all great fiction: action, emotion and theme. Reserve your spot now for the 1st Annual Writer Path Retreat.

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

0 Comments on The Power of Facing the Crisis of Your Novel, Memoir, Screenplay as of 3/6/2014 8:42:00 PM
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10. The Critique

The Critique
by Luisa Adams

Barbed wire
Words,
The artist's soul
dangles.

Opinion's hoarfrost
Icy,
The creative helix
tangles.

Devouring egos
Flay,
The tender skin
mangles.

Critic's cord
Encircles,
The artist's soul
strangles.

(When I was asked to participate in a segment on criticism (literary/film) for the CBS Sunday Morning Show, my friend Luisa Adams, author of Woven of Water, sent me this poem she had written after receiving a particularly negative critique.)

When does criticism cross the line between "the analysis and judgment of the merits an flats of a literary or artistic work" to "the expression of disapproval of someone or something based on received faults or mistakes"?

When creating something out of nothing, which is what a writer does daily, constructive criticism can help grow brighter a writer's light. Negative criticism and voicing objection to something, only with the purpose of showing what is wrong and generally suggesting disapproval is often interpreted as a personal attack and usually serves to dim a writer's light (especially if the comments touch off a sensitive backstory wound and trigger self-loathing and the inner critic's crippling and negative self-talk).

I find writers benefit from a critique that is balanced between what is working and what could be improved.
~~~~~~~~
PLOT WORKSHOPS and RETREATS
A PATH to PUBLISHING using the Plot Whisperer Workbook: Step-by-Step Exercises to Help You Create Compelling Stories
Choose the NOVEL TRACK or the PICTURE BOOK TRACK for 4, 10 and 16-week workshops to ensure you understand concept, plotting, character development, scene development, action and emotional arc development, as well has how to pitch your work to agents, editors, and readers. Live online video chat technology. I recommend writers of all genres and all ages take at least one picture book plot workshop. Narrows all plot concepts down to 28 pages and 500 words for clarity.

WRITER PATH PLOT and SCENE RETREATS in the heart of the Santa Cruz MountainsYour story deserves to be told. Your writer’s soul needs to be nourished. Over a weekend you’ll learn how to identify and write the key lynch-pin scenes that build a page-turning story, master crucial scene types and go deeper into your plot by applying the three key layers that run through all great fiction: action, emotion and theme. Reserve your spot now for the 1st Annual Writer Path Retreat.

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

0 Comments on The Critique as of 3/2/2014 10:32:00 AM
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11. Writing in Snippets rather than Writing in Scene

As a strategy to seize back power from the self-doubts and self-sabatoging behaviors around her writing, she signs up for ongoing plot consultations with me.

When I learn of the sacrifices she makes to afford my support, I understand how deep her resistance and negative self-talk cuts.

With the 4 Energetic Markers identified through all major plot lines, she plots scenes ideas for the beginning quarter of her story. At the same time we agree to begin incorporating actual writing into her homework. Appreciating that writing is a dance between resistance and flow, I give her two weeks to begin writing.

When she next checks in, I nearly hold my breath in anticipation whether this self-described writer who puts off writing and puts off writing and puts off writing actually wrote anything. She reports progress with the necessary research for a firm grasp of some of the activities that take place in her story and describes the banner paper she bought online and reinforced on the wall and placed the major scenes in place.

Then the news I've been waiting for. I cheer upon hearing she has indeed written. Rather than the usual sweaty palms as she works and reworks the same beginning chapters over and over again, she was determined to try writing in a new way. She'd convinced herself that writing in snippets was easier, less threatening, than writing in complete scenes and so that's what she did. She wrote snippets for the first 2 scenes.

I eager await our next session to learn if she commits to writing actual scenes with beginnings and middles and ends. She appreciates the need for complete scenes, having learned first-hand how difficult and slowing the process of keeping track of and fitting together all the various snippets.

The even greater challenge: Will she be able to write the next 4 scenes WITHOUT going back to rewrite the 2nd scene (snippet) to incorporate ideas she generated during our session and without rewriting the snippets into scenes?

An organizational system for note-keeping (rather than allowing herself back into what she's already written) I prefer is keeping notes on a Plot Planner. Because she readily admits to being a pretty disorganized writer, the idea of adding notes to the Plot Planner she's installed in her writing room appeals to her.

I know she can complete the homework. Now the question becomes, can she walk fully into the person she's becoming, empowered, taking charge of her life, trying new ideas, facing her fears and conquering them? I believe in her. Does she believe in herself? Do you? If not yet, I know she will. When will you?
~~~~~~~~
PLOT WORKSHOPS and RETREATS
A PATH to PUBLISHING using the Plot Whisperer Workbook: Step-by-Step Exercises to Help You Create Compelling Stories
Choose the NOVEL TRACK or the PICTURE BOOK TRACK for 4, 10 and 16-week workshops to ensure you understand concept, plotting, character development, scene development, action and emotional arc development, as well has how to pitch your work to agents, editors, and readers. Live online video chat technology. I recommend writers of all genres and all ages take at least one picture book plot workshop. Narrows all plot concepts down to 28 pages and 500 words for clarity.

WRITER PATH PLOT and SCENE RETREATS in the heart of the Santa Cruz MountainsYour story deserves to be told. Your writer’s soul needs to be nourished. Over a weekend you’ll learn how to identify and write the key lynch-pin scenes that build a page-turning story, master crucial scene types and go deeper into your plot by applying the three key layers that run through all great fiction: action, emotion and theme. Reserve your spot now for the 1st Annual Writer Path Retreat.

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

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12. What Happens after the Crisis and Before the Protagonist Ends the True End of the Story?

The drop in the energy of a Universal Story is symbolized on the Plot Planner by the downward line after the Crisis. This entire downward line can be viewed as the threshold separating the middle of the story from the end. Literally, a threshold is a doorsill or the starting point of an experience.


On the Plot Planner and in the Universal Story, this threshold encompasses the integration of and preparatory time needed after the crisis and before the actual crossing over into the final quarter of the story. The length of the line as the energy contracts depends on your story. In high-action stories, the drop in intensity may occur over one short scene. At its core, this time of regrouping takes place on a purely cognitive level. Though the protagonist may assemble the resources she plans to take forward with her, until she takes her first step toward her final goal she remains in the middle of the story and, as yet, has not entered the final one-quarter of the story.

This is a time, whether brief of for several scenes, of rest for the protagonist and recovery after the Crisis. It's a time of recollection, integrations, assessment and review. Before blindly reacting as always, finally now, she takes time to re-evaluate, re-invent, re-form, and redo things. She's unsteady after all that has befallen her. She makes mistakes, misjudgments and misreading as she reflects and prepares for the final ascent to the Climax.

The drop in energy allows for the reader and audience to rebuild anticipation and expectation for what will happen when the protagonist ultimately leaves the middle of the story and sets out for the climax at the end of the story.

As the protagonist considers the thoughts that have held her captive, she can mourn what was. But rather than hold onto those same old beliefs and continue to retard her progress, now she is free to reshape her life by speaking and acting in her own truth. Once she develops a new belief system, a shift occurs in her life. Having wakened to her potential, she is finally clear to seize that which she most longs for. And… the End begins. (Excerpt taken from The Plot Whisperer: Secrets of Story Structure Any Writer Can Master.)
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PLOT WORKSHOPS and RETREATS
A PATH to PUBLISHING using the Plot Whisperer Workbook: Step-by-Step Exercises to Help You Create Compelling Stories
Choose the NOVEL TRACK or the PICTURE BOOK TRACK for 4, 10 and 16-week workshops to ensure you understand concept, plotting, character development, scene development, action and emotional arc development, as well has how to pitch your work to agents, editors, and readers. Live online video chat technology. I recommend writers of all genres and all ages take at least one picture book plot workshop. Narrows all plot concepts down to 28 pages and 500 words for clarity.

WRITER PATH PLOT and SCENE RETREATS in the heart of the Santa Cruz MountainsYour story deserves to be told. Your writer’s soul needs to be nourished. Over a weekend you’ll learn how to identify and write the key lynch-pin scenes that build a page-turning story, master crucial scene types and go deeper into your plot by applying the three key layers that run through all great fiction: action, emotion and theme. Reserve your spot now for the 1st Annual Writer Path Retreat.

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

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13. Plot Tip How to Decide Which Scenes to Keep and Which Ones to Toss

The experience of teaching online Plot Workshops to small groups of writers using innovative technology that allows ten of us to see and interact live together is without a doubt the best teaching experiences I've ever had. The workshops revolve around weekly homework assignments from Plot Whisperer Workbook: Step-by-Step Exercises to Help You Create Compelling Stories.

A homework question came up about plotting scenes above and below the Plot Planner line.


1) The Plot Planner line shows the steady increase in tension as the story rises to the Crisis and and then again to the Climax . The Plot Planner is also a line that divides scenes with lots of conflict, tension, suspense from those scenes that are quieter and where the protagonist is in control.

Often in a rewrite after a major revision, scenes below the line switch from scenes to summary in order to move the character quickly from one dramatic action scene to the next. (For instance, if you find that a scene you wrote to move characters from one location to another does not have much external dramatic action, consider turning the scene into summary. Allows for a faster pace in the first quarter of the story, moving the reader smoothly to the middle.)

2) Also, seeing scenes lined up above the line on the Plot Planner often frees up ideas how to incorporate two pretty good scenes to make one terrific scene.
~~~~~~~~
PLOT WORKSHOPS and RETREATS
A PATH to PUBLISHING using the Plot Whisperer Workbook: Step-by-Step Exercises to Help You Create Compelling Stories
Choose the NOVEL TRACK or the PICTURE BOOK TRACK for 4, 10 and 16-week workshops to ensure you understand concept, plotting, character development, scene development, action and emotional arc development, as well has how to pitch your work to agents, editors, and readers. Live online video chat technology. I recommend writers of all genres and all ages take at least one picture book plot workshop. Narrows all plot concepts down to 28 pages and 500 words for clarity.

WRITER PATH PLOT and SCENE RETREATS in the heart of the Santa Cruz MountainsYour story deserves to be told. Your writer’s soul needs to be nourished. Over a weekend you’ll learn how to identify and write the key lynch-pin scenes that build a page-turning story, master crucial scene types and go deeper into your plot by applying the three key layers that run through all great fiction: action, emotion and theme. Reserve your spot now for the 1st Annual Writer Path Retreat.

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

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14. BLOCKBUSTER PLOTS: 7 Ways to Create an Irresistible Story that Readers Will Love

1) Create a multi-faceted protagonist

2) Know who she is at the climax to determine how she’ll portray herself in the beginning – do this for any character you want to change and transform

3) Commit to the primary plot of your story – character driven/action driven/meaning driven/romance driven & use all of them for depth and meaning

4) Make her story goal important to others as well as to her

5) Pre-plot the 4 Energetic Markers as early as possible

6) Use antagonists capable of arousing emotion, tension and conflict on the page

7) Determine your story’s intention, the deeper meaning, what your story says about life
~~~~~~~~
PLOT WORKSHOPS and RETREATS
A PATH to PUBLISHING using the Plot Whisperer Workbook: Step-by-Step Exercises to Help You Create Compelling Stories
Choose the NOVEL TRACK or the PICTURE BOOK TRACK for 4, 10 and 16-week workshops to ensure you understand concept, plotting, character development, scene development, action and emotional arc development, as well has how to pitch your work to agents, editors, and readers. Live online video chat technology. I recommend writers of all genres and all ages take at least one picture book plot workshop. Narrows all plot concepts down to 28 pages and 500 words for clarity.

WRITER PATH PLOT and SCENE RETREATS in the heart of the Santa Cruz MountainsYour story deserves to be told. Your writer’s soul needs to be nourished. Over a weekend you’ll learn how to identify and write the key lynch-pin scenes that build a page-turning story, master crucial scene types and go deeper into your plot by applying the three key layers that run through all great fiction: action, emotion and theme. Reserve your spot now for the 1st Annual Writer Path Retreat.

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

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15. How to Release Scenes You've Written that No Longer Belong after a Major Revision or a Plot Consultation

She is a First Nation People from Canada, writing a memoir about her journey "taking off her nativeness" to live a different life and how she finds her way back to her culture.

She begins our plot consultation by telling me she is wearing her ceremonial dress and explains how the sage smudging ceremony she preforms on her end of the telephone opens the door for good. She follows with a prayer to "honor the creator of life". Including me in her blessing, I feel wrapped in the cocoon of safety. Then we began.

That she takes notes on butcher paper she has hung on the wall in her house in preparation for our time together delights me and I hope she sends me a photo of her Plot Planner for my Plot Planner Pinterest board.

The writer remains so open and enthusiastic about the consultation process and passionate about her journey that the time quickly passes setting the plot foundation and establishing the basic timeline of her story. Surprised to learn how few pages she has for each part of the memoir based on the total page count she envisions for her memoir, she listens as I encourage her to write as long as she can with cause and effect before resorting to a time jump and then jumping as far as necessary to get to the pivotal and exciting moments that bring meaning and coherence to her story.

I don't know until the very end of our time together the effects of our consultation when she mutters about the need to release scenes she holds onto because they are her scenes. She understands at the logical, mental level the need to cut scenes for the good of the overall memoir. She accepts intellectually that she must decide what scenes from her life (and for fiction writers, scenes you've imagined and/or written) belong in this memoir and almost more importantly, which scenes need to be cut for the good of the thematic significance of the overall story.

Perhaps that becomes her journey now, to own her entire story and then look beyond her own personal story and convince herself emotionally to make decisions about the story she wishes to share with others based on the bigger picture as she writes about the truth she's asked to be shown.

  *****NEW
Advanced Picture Book Workshop using the Plot Whisperer Workbook: Step-by-Step Exercises to Help You Create Compelling Stories
I recommend writers of all genres and all ages take at least one picture book plot workshop. Narrows all plot concepts down to 28 pages and 500 words for clarity. Join me live and online for 4, 6, 12 video plot chats.

If you'd like more, sign-up now to reserve your spot this spring in the 1st Annual WRITER'S PLOT RETREAT in the heart of the Santa Cruz Mountains and read my Plot Whisperer and Blockbuster Plots books for writers.

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16. CBS News Sunday Morning Show -- Oscar Sunday

Are we rewarded when, rather than run and hide, we choose to face our fears and own our own story?

I'm one to answer with a resounding yes! This latest reward, however, far exceeds any gift I've ever imagined. I remember maybe ten years ago, a publicist chiding me for not thinking big enough. Then, I couldn't have even taken in the opportunity recently presented to me. After taking years to understand what she meant and to begin breaking out of the box I'd locked myself in, even now, I float along the surface of this life-changing gift.

Someone on the CBS Sunday Morning Show team read a blog post, Are Negative Reviews a Form of Bullying?, I'd sweated over, stalled to write and stalled even longer to post. The post about the negative effects of negative reviews, criticism and judgement is personal and was difficult for me to own. That those words and that effort landed before a producer… I have no words.

We speak on the phone and after he asks me questions pertinent to his vision of the segment, he explains how he and the woman to interview me and a camera crew will fly out of NYC to SF, rent a car, drive to Santa Cruz, tape, drive back and take the red-eye home to NYC all in the same day. He mentions a bit about the filming and I assure him I'm comfortable in front of the camera thanks to videos I film for my vlog, How Do I Plot a Novel, Memoir, Screenplay?. He says he knows, that he's watched them all. I had no clue at the time we filmed on a lark that the videos would prove such an asset.

A friend on Facebook made the comment "gasp!" Honestly, every time I actually think about the actual event, what's exactly been offered to me -- a thrill bubbles over me and I gasp…

For an opportunity to speak about the effects of negative self-talk and critiques and rejections have one writers I know and work with feels like the most incredible gift. (I'll post more details about the big event as I learn them!)

*****NEW
Advanced Picture Book Workshop using the Plot Whisperer Workbook: Step-by-Step Exercises to Help You Create Compelling Stories
I recommend writers of all genres and all ages take at least one picture book plot workshop. Narrows all plot concepts down to 28 pages and 500 words for clarity. Join me live and online for 4, 6, 12 video plot chats.

If you'd like more, sign-up now to reserve your spot this spring in the WRITER'S PLOT RETREAT in the heart of the Santa Cruz Mountains and read my Plot Whisperer and Blockbuster Plots books for writers.

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17. Success Demands Action: Writing a Story From Beginning to End Demands Self-Confidence

He's an international sensation, houses in five different countries, a TED host and a successful non-fiction journalist. He falters when considering his fiction. Having worked with him in the past on developing the plot for his now completed suspense novel, he calls for another appointment. Double-thinking the job his agent is doing pitching his novel, he asks for help establishing his "brand" in support of his novel and developing a plan to create an on-line presence in hopes of impressing editors and publishers as an expert in the field covered in his novel.

We speak and, like the first time we consulted on his novel, he again resorts to fearful self-talk about what others will think, his image and reputation, uncertainty, low energy and self-doubt. For one so externally successful, I  feel for the inner turmoil he suffers. Sensitivity to past rejections fuels a lack of self belief. He finds real difficulty in recovering from criticism, negativity, setbacks no matter how small.

Reminding him of his past doubts and ultimate accomplishment -- having written from beginning to end an incredibly exciting novel in a relevant and compelling setting about issues in the news today, he's shocked. He doesn't remember expressing the exact same doubts when starting the scary proposition of revising a complex novel as he's expressing now when starting the scary proposition of building a brand.

The less we dwell on his fears and doubts and more on establishing a concrete and measurable plan, the  less fearful and doubting he is as he sees the steps leading him from uncertainty to confidently moving in the direction of his goals. His inner story of fear and uncertainty is replaced with the realty of his success, what he's shown he is capable of and together we weave for him a new story filled with possibility.

He's not the first writer I've worked with to doubt himself. Over the course of my career as the Plot Whisperer, I’ve learned quite a lot about the structure of stories and even more about the influence our inner stories have over every success and failure we experience in life.

Success demands action. A plan, a pre-plot, a Plot Planner keeps you grounded and directs your actions toward success. Re-imagine the stories you tell yourself about the way life operates and become the person you’ve always dreamed of being.

*****NEW Space available for our Concept, Logline, Pitch Workshop . Have a bunch of ideas but not sure which one to write? Have a completed manuscript and ready to start querying and pitching to agents and editors? Literary agent Jill Corcoran knows concept. I know plot. Join us live and online .

If you'd like more, join me at an upcoming a writers conference, picture book workshop , middle grade and young adult intensive , and WRITER'S PLOT RETREAT and read my plot books.

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18. Benefits of Pre-Pre-Plotting or the Art of Pitching Your Story

The new year brings Writers Conferences. Writers Conferences mean pitching your story. You find yourself sitting at lunch next to a literary agent. How quickly and compellingly can you draw her into your story? How good are you at pitching your own story?

Think back upon all those holiday parties when people asked what you were writing. Did you rattle off a pithy pitch that sent even those guests not in your circle begging for more?

Think of the pitch as the seed out of which grows the action and the characters in a meaningful way.

Some writers won't write a word until they come up with a concept that renders them begging 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 in the Plot Whisperer Workbook Workshops series for all ages and all genres at A Path to Publishing.

Join literary agent and publishing insider, Jill Corcoran, and me in our small group (maximum 8 writers) 4 week online video chats and refine your story concept, develop a log line and perfect your pitch.

Weekly homework is assigned from The Plot Whisperer Workbook: Step-by-step Exercises to Help You Create Compelling Stories.

*****San Francisco Writers Conference February 13 - 15th, I'm teaching both in the Open Enrollment classes (you can enroll for this class without signing up for the entire conference) and during the conference, too:

PLOT FOR MIDDLE GRADE AND YOUNG ADULT STORIES: Plot Your Story Scene-by-Scene to Move Your Readers 2/13, 6:30 - 9:30 Mark Hopkins Hotel in S.F.

BLOCKBUSTER PLOTS: 7 Ways to Create an Irresistible Story Your Readers Will Love.

If you'd like more, join me at an upcoming middle grade and young adult intensive  and our serene and productive WRITER'S PLOT RETREAT and read my plot books.

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19. Another Way to View the Crisis, through a Personal Lens

As we all gathered together for today's online video chat with 8 writers, Literary Agent Jill Corcoran and me, one writer had difficulty logging on. This being our very first technical snafu, I thought to myself, ah, ha!

Jill attempted to help the writer and then she disappeared. When she came back she advised all of us to turn off other apps on our computers. We all disappeared.

The problems resolved quickly and went on to explain how this week (the 3rd session of 4 in the Pre-Plot Workshop of our 4-month Plot from Beginning to End series) represents the Crisis point in the Universal Story. I ask if anyone had trouble with their homework this week and felt their stories weren't what they had hoped, got lost, struggled and suffered doubt and uncertainty. Everyone raised their hands. Two or three writers, in their frustration and deeming their stories unworthy, tossed the story they started with on our journey together to plot and write throughout the entire series and chose instead to begin working on a different story.

Perhaps I should have thought to warn everyone at the end of last week's class in preparation for the torment they could suffer when the 4 Energetic Markers of the Universal Story failed to appear in their stories or because what did appear seemed not quite right, not quite good enough.

My hope is that they'll stick it out with the story they were first drawn to work with. It may seem easier to go back and start over again, start fresh. The harder way, the Universal Story way, is to wade deeper into the uncertainty and insecurity and fear of not being good enough or your story worthy. In the end, a gift awaits.

First, however, I find myself trembling in anticipation of what's going to happen when we reach the 3/4 mark of the entire 16-week series…

 
*****NEW left for our Concept, Logline, Pitch Workshop . Have a bunch of ideas but not sure which one to write? Have a completed manuscript and ready to start querying and pitching to agents and editors? Literary agent Jill Corcoran knows concept. I know plot. Join us live and online .


If you'd like more, join me at an upcoming a writers conference, picture book workshop , middle grade and young adult intensive , and WRITER'S PLOT RETREAT and read my plot books.

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20. A Writing Plan that Incorporates Research, Plotting and Writing

His first book takes years to write. He decides to try something entirely different and signs up for a plot consultation. He knows the protagonist's goals and major antagonists, secondary characters, exotic world, character traits, thematic elements and throws in a couple of dynamic twists to elevate the story from bland to compelling.

We discuss key scenes:

He knows the climax, sort of. He changes the first scene to the end of the beginning scene to give himself time to seduce the reader into the story and the reader time to care about the characters while, at the same time, still providing tension and curiosity to read forward.

I suggest he begin writing now, even as we continue pinning down the overall plot and structure of his story.

He balks.
Comes up with excuses.
Needs more time.
Calls himself a nervous writer.

I feel his resistance and more than a bit of fear even. Bullying himself will only add more stress and avoidance behaviors. We brainstorm ways to ease himself into writing, turn his self-talk about his relationship to writing in a more positive direction, learn to relax and trust the process of creating something out of nothing and nurture the belief that so long as he shows up open-heartedly and with limited or no judgment his words will flow.

Homework is three-tiered:
1) write 1 - 4 scenes fast and with no judgment
2) volunteer at an agency he needs to research for his story
3) continue to study the parameters of the 4 Energetic Markers and explore ideas for those key scene in his story.

*****2 Spots left for our Picture Book Workshop . Picture Books with a plot sell better than episodic ones. Literary agent Jill Corcoran knows concept and the picture book market. I know plot. Join us live and online .

If you'd like more, join me at an upcoming online video-chat plot workshop a writers conference, picture book workshop , middle grade and young adult intensive , and writer's plot and scene retreat and read my plot books.

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21. Tracking Scenes In Your Memoir One Scene at a Time

Question:
I am using The Plot Whisperer Workbook: Step-by-step Exercises to Help You Create Compelling Stories to refine my memoir. On page 84 you give an example of a Scene Tracker for the beginning of The Great Gatsby. I cannot find an explanation of the various markings in the Emotional Change column which vary by scene.( --/--/ +/-, etc.) Could you please explain?

Also, in the conflict column, I am guessing the "X" indicates conflict present in the scene, whereas scenes without and "x" are probably summary. Am I correct?

My left brain thanks you for showing up at just the right time!

Answer: 
In Column #7, plot the emotion at the beginning of each of your scenes with a plus or a minus sign depending on how the character is feeling at the beginning of the scene. Continue to change the sign as long as the character’s emotion changes throughout the scene.

Without some sort of emotional change in your character, your story will become stagnant and you will likely lose the reader. Stories are living, breathing organisms. They must grow and change. The protagonist is a living, breathing organism who must grow and change as she tries to get something in life and fails and tries again. Each time your protagonist is knocked down, she must get back up and try again. As long as you are able to record a change in the protagonist’s emotional level somewhere throughout the scene, then your chances of keeping the reader’s interest increases.

It is best if the protagonist is in worse shape when she ends the scene than when she started the scene. No matter how bad things get for the character, they can and should always get worse. If you find that your protagonist is always happy or always sad with not many definite changes in emotions then perhaps you are like the writer who told me after she started tracking her scenes that she was finding that her piece was “a rather dour story of a dour character.”

Having had that realization, she began working on integrating a variety of emotion in some form or another to show more of the protagonist’s strengths and hopefulness.

As for your 2nd question: Yes, an X in Column #6 indicates there is indeed conflict and tension in the scene.  Those scenes without an X means that there is no conflict. Some writers choose to write a brief summary of the conflict in the box. Remember there is no right or wrong way to use the Scene Tracker. At anytime feel free to adapt it to suit your individual needs.

Today I write!

*****If you'd like more, join me at an upcoming online video-chat plot workshop a writers conference, picture book workshop , middle grade and young adult intensive , and writer's plot and scene retreat and read my plot books.

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22. Are Negative Reviews a Form of Bullying?

I was asked the question by a writer on Facebook long enough ago that I can't find her message and can't remember her exact wording. What I do remember really got me thinking... for months as layers of shame peeled back until I saw myself before the reviews to me now.

She wanted to know if I felt the negative reviews on Amazon for The Plot Whisperer: Secrets of Story Structure Any Writer Can Master , especially the ones that are so personal, are bullying. Yes, I can now say, yes, I felt bullied. Her question led me to understand how much criticism and bullying and judgment and punishment I've received in my life for being different -- as likely you also have to one degree or another.

Problem: The negative reviews worked. Rather than believe the vast majority of reviews which are positive in warm and incredible ways, I surrendered my own beliefs and pulled back from writing about so much that brings me joy -- like the Universal Story, the Writer's Way, the journey all of us share. I allowed the antagonists to fell me.

All of us have fears. When our fear(s) keep us from our dreams and if we're lucky, we're eventually forced to face that which haunts us and be stripped of everything until we learn we're bigger than our fears and ultimately that there is nothing to fear.

I spotted a quote  on Pinterest that moved me:

The writer's FB message sent me on a journey of remembering. I now appreciate the gift in the negative reviews that came so fast and the damage so swift and early. For me to do what I love, I've got to hold my own power or be silenced by and lose to those who don't agree with me and ridicule my ideas.

I also appreciate I can't be seduced by praise though I'm grateful to receive positive emails and messages about how my books and vlog have made you write more and understand yourself better. Thank you! Without a spiritual or inner plot, without a shared language and belief that there is more to life than simply the outer plot, rather than transcend, we're pulled back to wallow there in the muck of the past. I'm grateful to travel this path with you...

Today I write!

*****If you'd like more, join me at an upcoming online video-chat plot workshop a writers conference, picture book workshop , middle grade and young adult intensive , and writer's plot and scene retreat and read my plot books.

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23. Where Exactly Does the End Begin in a Novel, Memoir, Screenplay?

Question:
I've read Blockbuster Plots about five times and seen all your wonderful Youtube vids (thanks!). But it seems like the line initiating the third acts changes a lot. On Pinterest, you have it coming just after the low point after the crisis. Others with examples on the same page put it before. And in your book, it comes even later, right before the climax.

Can you clarify about the right time for a third act to appear? Thanks!

Answer: 
Every Plot Planner you refer to shows the End beginning in different places because different artists created the different Plot Planners for me. In my webinars, the line initiating the End is different than all the others.

Another reason why the line is different on all the Plot Planners is because the End is determined by the story itself.

In high action stories and lots of screenplays, the distance between the crisis and the climax in scene and page count is much shorter than say literary fiction and some genres.

Thresholds Hold Tension
By slowing the action and drama after the crisis, when the energy rises to announce the final quarter, the story moves quickly and with maximum impact to the end.

The protagonist estimates what is necessary for ultimate success in achieving her goal. She gathers the attributes, things, and people to take forward with her on the final journey to the end. She leaves behind everything that does not serve the highest good.

The final quarter of the story shows the protagonist taking action without hesitation. The character may have thought about the actions she intends to take to accomplish her goal and even voiced them, but until she acts her words are meaningless.

The moment she moves toward her long-term goal, the final one-quarter of the story begins. The dramatic action is designed to get the protagonist to the right place at the right time to seize back her personal power from the antagonist that best represents the thematic significance of the entire story.

In The Lace Reader, Calvin represents all that the protagonist has lost. To break free of the hell in which her fear has held her for fifteen years, she must face him, face her greatest fear.
**Excerpt from The Plot Whisperer: Secrets of Story Structure Any Writer Can Master named BEST BOOKS FOR WRITERS by Poets and Writers

If you'd like more, join me at an upcoming online video-chat plot workshop a writers conference, picture book workshop , middle grade and young adult intensive , and writer's plot and scene retreat and read my plot books.

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24. The Writer's Way

One of my favorite parts of the The Plot Whisperer: Secrets of Story Structure Any Writer Can Master is The Writer's Way one of two breakout sections.

One section, Plot Whisper offers tips and exercises designed to improve your plotting skills. Think of Plot Whisper as an ally supporting your outer goal of writing a novel, memoir, screenplay.

Keep in mind, that story you wish to write is inside of you personally, in your imagination, your muse, in the air you breath. Wherever you believe the story comes from, for you to achieve your outer goal, that story has to flow through you onto the page. The Writer's Way is designed to expand your understanding of the demands when writing a story with a plot from beginning to end.

The Writer's Way is also a guide for the disclosure I make in the book:

"...After using these ideas, you’ll begin to understand yourself better. You’ll see your writing in a different light. The ways you interact with your writing and with the world around you will shift.

"Be forewarned, though. Writing a story can expand your everyday life; it can also destroy the person you are now."

You undertake your own inner journey when your protagonist embarks on hers.

Whether you emerge from the experience better or worse is your choice. The act of writing offers you the possibility of transformation.

In 2014, I plan to continue sharing my impressions after a plot consultation and Plot Whisper tips and tricks and this year also to include The Writer's Way posts.
~~~~
If you'd like more, join me at an upcoming online video-chat plot workshop a writers conference, picture book workshop , middle grade and young adult intensive , and writer's plot and scene retreat and read my plot books.

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25. Re-"visioned": Now What? How to Rewrite

PlotWriMo helped you separate from the word level of your story to concentrate on the overall story level. In every story's life a time comes when an assessment is needed of what you're doing with all those words. What is the whole of your creation?

Throughout December, you spent the month identifying and cutting and adding and organizing and refining and pacing the scenes of your story at the structural level. You've found what are your writing strengths and weaknesses and what are your story's strengths and weaknesses by creating Plot Planner of your story. (A Plot Planner works well at the pre-plotting, writing and revision stages.)

That is the revision process.

With all your story elements arranged just right on a Plot Planner comes time to rewrite your entire manuscript from beginning to end. Now that your plot and structure are set, you no longer have to use all that left-brained power, or at least not as intensely as during the revision process, and seize again your area of strength -- writing words.

A Scene Tracker supports you as you rewrite.

A Scene Tracker is where you track the scenes as you rewrite, beginning from scene 1 and progressing all the way to rewriting every scene to the end. You better understand your writing weaknesses and use your strengths to bolster your confidence. One way to help ensure you're rewriting balanced scenes is with the help of a Scene Tracker that includes all 7 essential elements of scene:

1) date and time
2) character emotional introduction and development
3) dramatic action
4) goal
5) emotional change
6) conflict and tension
7) thematic details

****NEW 7 Essential Elements of Scene tutorial on YouTube
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If you'd like more, join me at an upcoming online video-chat plot workshop a writers conference, picture book workshop , middle grade and young adult intensive , and writer's plot and scene retreat and read my plot books.

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