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

(tagged with 'character transformation')

Recent Comments

JacketFlap Sponsors

Spread the word about books.
Put this Widget on your blog!
  • Powered by JacketFlap.com

Are you a book Publisher?
Learn about Widgets now!

Advertise on JacketFlap

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 Posts Tagged with: character transformation, Most Recent at Top [Help]
Results 1 - 18 of 18
1. Pre-Plot for NaNoWriMo

Begin pre-plotting your story for NaNoWriMo with the 1st exercise in The Plot Whisperer Workbook: Step-by-step Exercises to Help You Create Compelling Stories.

By creating a character transformation and evolving all three major plotlines over the beginning, middle and end of the story, you're left with a bird's eye view of your story. Turns out this exercise is intense to some writers and daunting to others, so much so that a writer friend declared the workbook the Ph.D. program for writers. Not my intent, I assure you.

Rather than become overwhelmed by the complexity of the task, break the exercise down into its parts, beginning with the Character Transformation Statement.

Last night in book group, we discussed the debut novel: The Doctor and the Diva by Arienne McDonnell.

Plot, plot, plot, the story is all about plot, everyone exclaimed. I disagreed.

The book is masterful at keeping the suspense and curiosity high with clearly defined goals and ticking clocks. Scenes are tightly linked by cause and effect. Provocative themes explored. The historical details about all the different exotic locales and occupations were breath-taking and the author's prose lovely.

So, what's the problem?

Though the dramatic action plot stays true to the structure of the Universal story, the character emotional development plot is devoid of its most important element = no character transformation in the end. None. Not one character. All the characters are exactly the same at the end of the story as they started out in the beginning.

Don't let this problem befall your story.

Begin pre-plotting for NaNoWriMo, with the ultimate character transformation in mind. Start there. 

Coming Soon!
The Plot Whisperer Book of Writing Prompts: Easy Exercises to Get You Writing is available for pre-order now. Ships 12/12.

More Plot Tips: 
1) Plot your story step-by-step with the help of The Plot Whisperer Workbook: Step-by-step Exercises to Help You Create Compelling Stories 

2) Read
The Plot Whisperer: Secrets of Story Structure Any Writer Can Master

3) Watch the Plot Series: How Do I Plot a Novel, Memoir, Screenplay? on YouTube. Scroll down on the left of this post for a directory of all the steps to the series. 27-step tutorial on Youtube

4) Watch the Monday Morning Plot Book Group Series on YouTube. Scroll down on the right of this post for a directory the book examples and plot elements discussed.

For additional tips and information about the Universal Story and plotting a novel, memoir or screenplay, visit:
Blockbuster Plots for Writers
Plot Whisperer on Facebook
Plot Whisperer on Twitter


0 Comments on Pre-Plot for NaNoWriMo as of 10/11/2012 4:42:00 PM
Add a Comment
2.

Do you writes in layers, one or two layer per draft? Or do you write all the layers of your novel, memoir, screenplay at once?
And what are all these layers, you ask?
Emotion: evoking a range of emotions -- positive and negative -- in the reader through the characters' show of emotion.
Conflict, tension, suspense, urgency and curiosity: shaping the dramatic action to keep the reader turning the pages to learn what happens next.
Character transformation: showing a flawed character change overtime spiritually, emotionally, physically, or mentality or all of the above.
Thematic significance: bringing meaning to the story.
Relationships: revealing the complexity and intimacy of the characters in relationship to each other.
Sensory: using senses -- auditory, visual, tactile, taste, smell -- to transport the reader deeper and deeper into the story world.
1) Read The Plot Whisperer: Secrets of Story Structure Any Writer Can Master (The companion workbook is coming this summer and available for pre-order now ~~ The Plot Whisperer Workbook: Step-by-step Exercises to Help You Create Compelling Stories)

2) Watch the Plot Series: How Do I Plot a Novel, Memoir, Screenplay? on YouTube. Scroll down on the left of this post for a directory of all the steps to the series. 27-step tutorial on Youtube

3) Watch the Monday Morning Plot Book Group Series on YouTube. Scroll down on the right of this post for a directory the book examples and plot elements discussed.

For additional tips and information about the Universal Story and plotting a novel, memoir or screenplay, visit:

0 Comments on as of 1/1/1900
Add a Comment
3. From Plot to Pure Gold

Alchemy is the seemingly miraculous power or process of change in form, appearance or nature.
In writing, dramatic action that transmutes the character at depth over time magically produces thematic significance -- the gold.
Spend the 1st quarter, the Beginning, of a story gathering and showing the ingredients of the experiment.
In the Middle, apply heat in the form of outer and inner forces to test, challenge and hinder. Antagonists work well. As the energy blazes ever higher, keep an eye on the character.
In the final quarter of the story, the End, the Climax reveals the final transformation as the protagonist emerges changed at depth. The conclusion left behind form the meaning of the story. The act of writing becomes the miraculous act of alchemy at the exact moment of thematic significance.
To familiarize yourself with the Universal Story and the basic plot terms in the above blog post:

1) Read The Plot Whisperer: Secrets of Story Structure Any Writer Can Master (The companion workbook is coming this summer and available for pre-order now ~~ The Plot Whisperer Workbook: Step-by-step Exercises to Help You Create Compelling Stories)

2) Watch the Plot Series: How Do I Plot a Novel, Memoir, Screenplay? on YouTube. A directory of all the steps to the series is to the right of this post. 27-step tutorial on Youtube
3 Watch the Monday Morning Plot Book Group Series on YouTube. A directory the book examples and plot elements discussed is to the left of this post.


For additional tips and information about the Universal S

0 Comments on From Plot to Pure Gold as of 5/13/2012 2:48:00 PM
Add a Comment
4. Deconstruct the Protagonist

Fascinating plot consultation today. The writer knows how she wants the story to end -- the Climax -- and needed support to find a way to get there. 

I have found that writers who know the end of the story early on in the writing of a story often are able to stay on track more easily than writers who have no idea where they are going (though if you're one who has no idea of the end, eventually you'll finish the first draft and thus, eventually will know the Climax and have the same advantage as the writer who knows the Climax before starting out). 

Either way, knowledge of the climax determines so many of the earlier decisions you need to make. 

The action the protagonist takes at the climax reveals what traits, knowledge, and skills are necessary for her to prevail. Thus, these necessary skills will be missing at the beginning and she will need relearn or rediscover them throughout the middle. Some skills she will be learning for the first time, but the true skills necessary for success at the climax are rediscovered after having been lost or buried due to her backstory. This is a backward approach to developing a character, deconstructing the end character to determine who she is at the beginning.

Most writers write with a forward approach to developing a character. You fill in a flaw, a strength, and five other character traits on the character profile. Either you begin writing first and the character reveals these traits to you, or you decide upon the character traits first and then construct a character using those traits. However, today was the writer who represent those who write from the climax back to the beginning.


What kind of writer are you?

All of this information and will be found in:
1 Comments on Deconstruct the Protagonist, last added: 7/26/2011
Display Comments Add a Comment
5. Day Nine-- 3rd Annual International Plot Writing Month

Welcome all you dedicated writers committed to your craft! If you're just now joining the  3rd Annual International Plot Writing Month, scroll down to Day One and work your way back.


THE END: PART TWO

People who know me are not surprised I start at the End. I've always done things a bit backwards. But, I have three reasons for beginning this way: 

1)
The End never gets the attention the Beginning does. Writers often never even get to the End. They begin to stall out in the Middle of the story and end up running back at the Beginning, over and over again. Or, if they do get to the End, they've lost so much energy for the story, the End is vague and underdeveloped. 

This paradigm echoes in other aspects of real life. Most of us live basically the same story over and over again. If we are brave enough to literally or figuratively leave everything we know (End of the Beginning), by the time things start to get messy -- which they have to in the exotic world of the middle-- we usually give up, turn a blind eye, stick our head's in the sand. We end up back "home," licking our wounds. 

In stories, once the protagonist advances into the Middle of the story toward her goal, she does not have the option of turning back. (Note: there are no rules to writing.)

The protagonist is tough enough to go all the way into hell and face her biggest fear or her worst ordeal (the Crisis in the Middle). After that Crisis, she then makes the journey back to share the gift -- not running home crying, -- returning a victor. Where, in the End she faces the ultimate antagonist at the Climax, which often turns out to be herself. 

(Please note: I'm using two different words to mark two different moments of highest intensity respectively:
Crisis, which occurs in the Middle at about the 3/4 mark in the story
AND 
Climax, which occurs in the End (1/4) one scene or chapter before the last page of the entire story)

2)
The Climax is the crowning glory of the entire story and, thus, deserves focused attention.

In real life, a person who

0 Comments on Day Nine-- 3rd Annual International Plot Writing Month as of 12/9/2010 9:41:00 AM
Add a Comment
6. Protagonist & Climax

The protagonist is always the character who is the most changed or transformed by the dramatic action in the story.

At the Climax (the scene right before the Resolution at the end), the protagonist does something to "show" the ultimate change or transformation. Whatever she does at the Climax -- the crowning glory of the entire story -- she is unable to do anywhere else in the story. She has to first endure all the dramatic action that comes before in order to gain the abilities and skills and new understanding of herself.

Make sure the action the protagonist takes at the Climax reflects this inner and outer growth and ask yourself if she could have acted in the same way anywhere else in the story.

Yes? Then rethink the Climax.

No? Then you're good to go!

2 Comments on Protagonist & Climax, last added: 3/21/2010
Display Comments Add a Comment
7. 2nd Annual International Plot Writing Month -- Day Nine

Welcome all you dedicated writers committed to your craft! If you're just joining us, scroll down to Day One and work your way back.


THE END

People who know me are not likely to be surprised I start at the End. I've always done things a bit backwards. But, I have three valid reasons for beginning this way: 

1)
The End never gets the attention the Beginning does. Writers often never even get to the End. They begin to stall out in the Middle of the story and end up running back at the Beginning, over and over again. Or, if they do get to the End, they've lost so much energy for the story, the End is vague and underdeveloped. 

This paradigm echoes in other aspects of real life. Most of us live basically the same story over and over again. If we are brave enough to literally or figuratively leave everything we know (End of the Beginning), by the time things start to get messy -- which they have to in the Middle -- we usually give up, turn a blind eye, stick our head's in the sand. We end up back "home," licking our wounds. 

In stories, once the protagonist advances into the Middle of the story, she does not have the option of turning back. (Note: there are no rules to writing.)

The protagonist is tough enough to go all the way into hell and face her biggest fear or her worst ordeal (the Crisis in the Middle). After that Crisis, she then makes the journey back to share the gift -- not running home crying, -- returning a victor. Where, in the End she faces the ultimate antagonist at the Climax, which often turns out to be herself. 

(Please note: I'm using two different words to mark two different moments of highest intensity respectively:
Crisis, which occurs in the Middle at about the 3/4 mark in the story
AND 
Climax, which occurs in the End (1/4) one scene or chapter before the last page of the entire story)

2)
The Climax is the crowning glory of the entire story and, thus, deserves focused attention.

In real life, a person who suffers a Crisis either goes back to the "tribe" to share her triumph and help others learn from her life, mistakes, awakening -- her Climax. Or, in real life, she can turn away from the challenge and remain unchanged, thus, never reach the Climax. Just because we survive an ordeal does not always mean we are transformed by it. 

In stories, however, the character undergoes a transformation. Therefore, the protagonist must face her greatest antagonist at the Climax in the End, be it an external person or an internal fear.

3)
The Climax determines every scene that comes before or leads up to the Climax. Once you know the Climax, you know exactly which scenes to keep and which scenes you've written that need to be cut or revised so that they point thematically to the Climax.
  • Does the Climax of your story rise to the greatest intensity of the entire story? 
  • Think of your story as energy. Does the Climax deliver an energetic impact?

CHARACTER EMOTIONAL DEVELOPMENT
Some people believe that we incarnate in the world to hea

0 Comments on 2nd Annual International Plot Writing Month -- Day Nine as of 1/1/1900
Add a Comment
8. More Winners and the like

Now Reading: Un Lun Dun
Just Finished: The Invention of Hugo Cabret, Diary of a Wimpy Kid, Persepolis: The Story of a Childhood, Special Topics in Calamity Physics, The Brothers Grimm: Two Lives, One Legacy, The Talented Clementine,Persepolis 2: The Story of a Return


The Green Glass Sea by Ellen Klages was this year's winner for the Scott O'Dell prize for historical fiction.

Dewey is a weird kid-- there's something wrong with her leg that makes her limp and she spends all of her time making gadgets and fiddling with stuff. Her dad is working on some top secret project that is going to help win the war and when her grandmother dies, she goes off to live with him.

Dewey didn't realize how top secret this project was. She didn't realize she was moving to a place that didn't officially exist... All she knew was everyone was living out in the desert working on the gadget. The gadget would win the war. The gadget would make everything better.

Suze has been living at Los Alamos for awhile when Dewey moves there-- Suze is a bit awkward and bossy and both of her parents are working on the project-- her mom's a real scientist, not just a typist or secretary like the other moms. When Dewey's dad has to go to Washington for awhile, Dewey moves in and the pair form an unlikely, but entirely realistic, friendship.

What's great about this book is the portrait of day-to-day life at Los Alamos-- you never think about kids living with their families, going to school, and being kids. You never think about the divisions between scientist kids and military kids. And you never think about Los Alamos just plain not existing... (well, at least I never thought about those things.)

This balances the line perfectly of being meticulously researched and historically wonderful, while not letting this detail overshadow the actual story. I liked how realistic the interactions between the kids were-- this unlikely friendship took a long time to develop and it never came across as hokey or simplisitic.

My favorite part of the book was how delicately it dealt with some very large issues that need to be tackled when dealing this topic-- it put them in there so you knew people were worrying about them, but Dewey hears about them and deals with them in a way that is very true to her age. In Surely You're Joking, Mr. Feynman! (Adventures of a Curious Character) Feynman (a minor character in this book, much to my delight) talks about the horror of what they had done after the first test. The book captures this horror well with the adults and the confusion of the kids at what's going on.

Something happens about 3/4 of the way through the book that is a bit of a spoiler so I'm not going to talk about it too much, but it was just too much and I don't really think it was necessary (but it might be for the sequel that I am very much looking forward to!)

The other thing is... I'm assuming that if you're reading my blog, you know what the gadget was-- you know what was invented at Los Alamos during WWII to win the war. Dewey and Suze, and therefore the reader, never find out was the gadget was, and I'm not sure how much sense the ending of the book is going to make if you don't know. I also don't know if the intended audience is going to automatically know what the gadget was...

Still, an excellent book and a well-deserving win.


Once upon a time, a very long time ago, I promised I'd review this years Newberry winner, The Higher Power of Luckyby Susan Patron.

I wanted to wait down until all the fervor over SCROTUM faded away. And then it came back. And then it faded again.

Anyway... Lucky really surprised me. I hadn't heard anything about it before Newberry day and in reading the description-- it didn't sound kid-friendly. It sounded like it was going to be really nostalgic and an adult book written for kids.

It wasn't! I was so happy!

Lucky lives with her French guardian (he absent father's ex-wife) in the middle of the desert. She likes to eavesdrop on 12 step meetings to find out how people find their higher power-- higher power sounds like a handy thing to have, but Lucky's hoping to avoid hitting rock bottom in order to get it. Hitting rock bottom doesn't sound like much fun.

At the same time, Lucky's worried her guardian is going to go back to France-- she seems homesick and her passport was out the other day.

Deep down, this is a really sweet tale that will appeal to younger readers, but also has some really big issues for older readers to get into.

Most enjoyable was the large cast of wacky, but believable, characters. A good book and my favorite Newberry winner of the last few years.


Hattie Big Sky by Kirby Lawson was a Newberry Honor book that is being found in the YA section at all the libraries I've visited!

Hattie is an orphan who inherits a homesteading claim in Montana. In order to keep the claim, she has to cultivate a large portion of it (which involves clearing it first!) and fence off most of it. By hand. By herself. She knows nothing about farming. Or cooking. Or anything. She wants to keep the claim, but she'll be lucky if she even survives.

Her next door neighbors are helpful and nice and the first friends Hattie makes, but one of them is German, and it's smack in the middle of WWI. Montana is rife with anti-German sentiment, loyalty leagues and other things making things hard for Hattie's friends. How can she reconcile her soldier-friends killing Germans across the ocean with her German neighbor fencing her claim in the middle of the night?

Tragedy and hope about in another great example of what historical fiction should be in this book that's perfect for Tweens and those right on the kidlit/YA break.

My favorite part was the ending and how it was handled. The author's note at the end is great, as are the recipes!


The Pull of the Ocean by Jean-Claude Mourlevat won the Batchelder award for translated work this fall.

The Doutreleau children are all sets of twins, except for the Yann, the seventh and the last. Yann is small and mute, but notices everything and communicates with his older brothers silently. One night he wakes up to his parents fighting and lets his brothers know they have to leave, to escape. For days they walk, following Yann's inner compass to the ocean.

This is more than just a retelling of the Tom Thumb. This story is told in brief accounts of people who saw the children and interacted with them only briefly-- sometimes only seconds, never more than an hour or so. Interspersed are the accounts of the children, but never Yann.

This book is surprisingly powerful and moving without ever being overwrought, over-contrived, or melodramatic. I couldn't put it down and it haunts you long after you turn the final page-- I highly recommend!




0 Comments on More Winners and the like as of 1/1/1970
Add a Comment
9. Molière Media

I have something really exciting for you today, a podcast that gives a unique look into an art form we don’t often get to explore on the OUPblog, film. James Monaco author of How to Read a Film: The World of Movies, Media, Multimedia: Language, History, Theory got the chance to interview Laurent Tirard, writer and director of Moliere, a new film about the famous playwright. To read some plays by Moliere check out The Misanthrope, Tartuffe and Other Plays or Don Juan and Other Plays. To listen click the “play” button below. The full text of the interview is after the break.

(more…)

0 Comments on Molière Media as of 1/1/1990
Add a Comment
10. Meet the Authors

Gail Stein, M.A., is a retired foreign-language instructor who taught in <?xml:namespace prefix = st1 />New York City public junior and senior high schools for more than 33 years. She has authored several language textbooks including the French Is Fun: French Practice and Testing series, the Spanish Practice and Testing series, French First Year, French Two Years, French Three Years, Le Français essentiel, and English Is Fun. Ms. Stein has also assisted in a revision project of the French curriculum for the New York City Board of Education and has served as an adjunct professor to St. John’s University in its Early Admission Extension Program. She has given presentations and demonstration lessons at numerous foreign-language conferences and has had her lessons videotaped by the New York City Department of Education for national distribution. Ms. Stein is a multiple-time honoree in Who’s Who Among America’s Teachers.

0 Comments on Meet the Authors as of 1/1/1900
Add a Comment
11. National Dictionary Day: French

Happy Dictionary Day! In honor of this wonderful holiday we thought we would introduce you to the Oxford Language Dictionaries Online (OLDO). With over 1.4 million words and phrases you could spend the whole day (and even the whole year) exploring other languages. Lucky for you, OLDO is free through Sunday the 21st. Use this link to start your word travels. Throughout the day we will be have some fun quizzes to help you expand your vocabulary in French, German, Spanish and Italian. First up is French. Try the questions below and then hit “more” to see how well you did. If you are stuck use OLDO for help!

Question 1: A Belgian French student tells you she has “une heure de fourche” today. What does she mean?

Question 2: French has two words that translate the English river - what’s the difference between them?

Question 3: Which French speakers would refer to France’s victory in the 1998 FIFA World Cup as being in “nonante-huit”?

Question 4: When would you hear people shouting “allez les Bleus”?

Question 5: Most English speakers know the French word “eau”; but what is special about “eau de vie”?
(more…)

0 Comments on National Dictionary Day: French as of 1/1/1990
Add a Comment
12. Foreign Languages: Meet the Author

Dr. Janet Hiller, the author Spanish Four Years: Advanced Spanish with AP Component, was born in <?xml:namespace prefix = st1 />Germany, one of three children of Holocaust survivors who migrated to the United States. She heard many languages growing up and from childhood understood their power. After winning the Spanish award in high school, Dr. Hiller decided to major in Spanish and French at Brooklyn College. She received her B.A. Degree in January 1969 and immediately began her career teaching Spanish in New York City. After living in Colorado for one year and teaching Spanish and French there, she returned to New York and completed her Master’s Degree in Spanish and Education at Queens College.


<?xml:namespace prefix = o />Dr. Hiller moved to Long Island and received her doctorate in Foreign Language Education, Spanish and French at the State University at Stony Brook. While at Stony Brook, Dr. Hiller was awarded a teaching fellowship and taught Spanish and trained student teachers. She subsequently received her administrator’s certificate at Long Island University. In 1986 she became the Chairperson of Foreign Languages and ESL in the Seaford Schools. Since 1988 she has been the Director of Foreign Languages and ESL in the East Islip School District. During her tenure in East Islip, the Foreign Language Department earned the James E. Allen Distinguished Foreign Language Program Award twice, in 1990 and in 2004. Dr. Hiller obtained several Federal and NY State Scholarships and Grants, including a New York Council for the Humanities Scholarship, a U.S. Department of Education Grant for a Family Literacy Program and a US Department of Education Foreign Language Assistance Program Grant for FLES and Technology. She also participated in a Fulbright Exchange Program with Uruguay.


Her numerous professional articles include: “An Interdisciplinary Framework for Foreign Language Teaching,” “Planning Cooperative Learning Activities for the Foreign Language Classroom,” “Computer Assisted Creative Writing Activities for the Foreign Language Classroom,"Establishing a FLES Program,” and “Fulbright Exchange Connects Language Learners Across Continents in the Year of Languages.


She is currently working on Temas para la interacción, an intermediate level text that has an interdisciplinary focus, builds literacy, and incorporates strategies for differentiating instruction.


Dr. Hiller lives in Setauket, NY with her husband. She has three children living in New York and California.

0 Comments on Foreign Languages: Meet the Author as of 11/27/2007 11:59:00 AM
Add a Comment
13. JUGGLING PLOT LINES

When writers get stuck, it is usually because one or more of the three plot elements has been ignored by:
• Concentrating on action only, forgetting that character provides interest and is the primary reason that people go to the movies and read books.
• Organizing solely around the character and overlooking the fact that dramatic action provides the excitement every story needs.
• Forgetting to develop the overall meaning or the thematic significance of their stories. When the dramatic action changes the character at depth over time, the story becomes thematically significance.

It's tough to juggle all of these elements at once. We end up trying too hard. Our writing suffers. We become stiff and self-conscious. The joy of writing diminishes.

This isn't such a bad thing, if you're committed to being a writer. Learning the craft of writing is constant. The more you know, the more you appreciate how much you don't know.

In a plot consultation, the omissions slowly become clear to the writer. The more she understands both her strengths and her weaknesses, the faster she is able to identify what isn't working, why, and how to proceed.

The only way to know our strengths and weaknesses is to get feedback -- from a critique group, an editor, a plot consultant, or by individual plot analyzation.

Plot is made up of three intertwining threads:
• Character emotional development
• Dramatic action
• Thematic significance
In other words, the protagonist acts or reacts. In so doing, he or she is changed and something significant is learned.

When you write, do you juggle all three plot lines at once? Or, do you write one plot line a draft? Always curious about other writers' process...... Read the rest of this post

23 Comments on JUGGLING PLOT LINES, last added: 3/12/2008
Display Comments Add a Comment
14. International Plot Writing Month -- Day Nine

THE END


People who know me aren't surprised I start at the End. I've always done things a bit backwards. But, I have three valid reasons for beginning this way: 

One: 
The End never gets the attention the Beginning does. Writers often never even get to the End. They begin to stall out in the Middle of the story and end up running back at the Beginning, over and over again. Or, if they do get to the End, they've lost so much energy for the story, the End is vague and underdeveloped. 

This paradigm echoes in other aspects of real life. Most of us live basically the same story over and over again. If we are brave enough to literally or figuratively leave everything we know (End of the Beginning), by the time things start to get messy -- which they have to in the Middle -- we usually give up, turn a blind eye, stick our head's in the sand. We end up back "home," licking our wounds. 

In stories, once the protagonist advances into the Middle of the story, she does not have the option of turning back. (Note: there are no rules to writing.)

The protagonist is tough enough to go all the way into hell and face her biggest fear or her worst ordeal (the Crisis in the Middle). After that Crisis, she then makes the journey back to share the gift -- not running home crying, -- returning a victor. Where, in the End she faces the ultimate antagonist at the Climax, which often turns out to be herself. 

(Please note: I'm using two different words to mark two different moments of highest intensity respectively:
Crisis, which occurs in the Middle at about the 3/4 mark in the story
AND 
Climax, which occurs in the End (1/4) one scene or chapter before the last page of the entire story)

Two:
The Climax is the crowning glory of the entire story and, thus, deserves focused attention.

In real life, a person who suffers a Crisis either goes back to the "tribe" to share her triumph and help others learn from her life, mistakes, awakening -- her Climax. Or, in real life, she can turn away from the challenge and remain unchanged, thus, never reach the Climax. Just because we survive an ordeal does not always mean we are transformed by it. 

In stories, however, the character undergoes a transformation. Therefore, the protagonist must face her greatest antagonist at the Climax in the End, be it an external person or an internal fear.

Three:
The Climax determines every scene that comes before or leads up to the Climax. Once you know the Climax, you know exactly which scenes to keep and which scenes you've written that need to be cut or revised so that they point thematically to the Climax.
  • Does the Climax of your story rise to the greatest intensity of the entire story? 
  • Think of your story as energy. Does the Climax deliver an energetic impact?

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

It's the opposite in 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 one scene or, at the most one 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 inevidable because every scene that comes before the Climax has led the reader scene-by-scene to that very moment.
  • What is your protagonist's true journey? purpose? 
  • What is it that only your protagonist can do? deliver? conquer? overcome? 
  • 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...)? 
  • Why your character?
Keep an open mind. Be loose. Use the information in whatever best serves your writing. My goal here is to help you prepare and make you excited to tackle writing the next draft.

4 Comments on International Plot Writing Month -- Day Nine, last added: 12/15/2008
Display Comments Add a Comment
15. International Plot Writing Month -- Day Twelve

What do you think so far? Is plot and structure what you thought it would be? 


My hope is that as you analyze your story inspiration flows...

When asked what was the most important element in her novels, Barbara Taylor Bradford said, "The character is the plot of the novel. Character is destiny. Your character is your destiny. My character is my destiny. And, with that, I knew how to write a novel." 

In honor of anyone with energy waning, I congratulate you on what you've accomplished and offer the following as yet anyway to look at the Universal Story Form.

When I’m not helping writers with their plots, I volunteer at the local Children’s Shelter. Rather than let pain and betrayal sit and fester, I invite the kids to explore the universal story form as it plays out in their lives.

Birth sets us on a journey. Beginnings and endings, conflicts and challenges, friends and foes, crises and climaxes are all part of that journey.

Start with where you are right now. Write your way to where you wish to be.

Stories have at least four big scenes.

1) The End of the Beginning
By the time the counselors, kids, volunteers, and I all huddle inside the Shelter classroom, there is no place to escape. I break down stories to seventeen year-old boys who loom large and twelve-year-old girls who are already women.

I start with a focus on the Beginning. The beginning 1/4 of the story leads to a moment of no return, a moment when life shifts, when good turns bad or bad to worse, the end of all that has been—the End of the Beginning.

After the kids write the beginning of their stories, a girl with clear brown eyes writes that she wants more time with her dad. She dreams of playing baseball like him. At the End of the Beginning, her dad dies.

Another girl shows a mom in heaven remembering her beautiful little girls. The End of the Beginning is when the girls go live with an uncle with a belt.

Now, try it for yourself. Think about your life. Are you feeling frustrated? Bored? Challenged? Dissatisfied? Has an event taken place recently that makes what you want feel impossible to attain? What is the moment when things went wrong?

Focus as closely as you can to the now.

Now that you cannot go back to the way things were before that moment hit—write that. Describe what you want that you now think is out of your reach.

2) The Crisis
In stories, the event that marks the End of the Beginning thrusts the character out of their old world and into a new one. Thus, begins the Middle, which is 1/2 of the story. In real life, when one door closes, we, too, enter a new world, be it a new physical place or a new psychological state. This new world is where you have the chance to evolve and ultimately be transformed.

Unfamiliar with our new surroundings, we venture forth feeling like a fish out of water. Often afraid, we encounter obstacles that trip us up and cause us to falter. We stumble over hurdles. 

Our resistance causes pain.

The kids write down three bumps that shake their main character to their core. Three things that stop them and interfere with their dreams. I advise the kids that we only find out whom we truly are when we are challenged. Adversity does not build character. Adversity reveals character.

Who and what have you gone up against lately? Who or what stands in the way of your happiness? Friends and family? Societal norms, handicaps, or you yourself? Do your fears and prejudices and flaws prevent you from achieving that which you long for? How do you sabotage yourself? Write that.

The challenges in the middle rise in intensity until something explodes at the Crisis.

The Crisis may have already happened in your life. The Crisis may be something you can see happening if you don’t take control of your own life. A Crisis is a deep disappointment, a blow that sends you to your knees, the dark night of the soul. The Crisis is a breakdown that has the potential to cause a break-through.

Write about something you are unable to do now. Consider what Crisis you must experience first to force you to move on, let go, detach, surrender, do things differently, believe in yourself. 

What does the Crisis represent to you getting control of your own life? What you write about now, you may not have to experience later.

After her father’s death, the girl with liquid eyes writes about feelings of denial. She falls into depression. Next comes rage. She turns violent and is placed in a group home. Separated from all she knows and understands, she experiences a Crisis.

3) The Climax
In all great fiction, the main character undergoes a transformation. The dramatic action in the Middle and what happens at the Crisis changes everything. Once unconscious of whom they are, the character now becomes conscious.

Character transformation is a form of alchemy. Rather than metal turned into gold, challenges and disappointments transform into gifts and opportunities. The victim becomes the victor. 

You, too, have the opportunity to be transformed by what happens in your life.

At the Shelter, I give examples of characters overcoming tremendous odds and showing, at the Climax, their transformed self. At the end of all great stories, the main character is able to do something they were unable to do at the beginning of the story. The same applies in life.

You have written about where you are. Consider where you would like to be. What must you shed to get there? What must you learn? As you move toward your ideal, you carry with you all you have learned. Your old self dissolves.

The Climax at the end of the story shows an action taken that demonstrates your new awareness, skill, strength, belief, and/or personal power. At the Climax, the new self is now able to confront antagonists and conquer challenges that the old self could not.

At the end of her story, the girl with the brown eyes faces the pain of losing her father. She learns to control her anger. This prepares her to confront her mother whom she blames for her father’s death.

Write a Climax that shows you facing your greatest fears. Imagine what that moment will feel like, taste and smell like, look and sound like. Describe yourself as a victor, a champion, a survivor, a body transformed and living the life you dream of. Dream big. Write that.

4) The Resolution
When someone real or imagined is transformed, the experience means something. Consider what you would like your life to stand for so far. Write that.

At the end of the day at the Shelter, the kids barely have time to explore what they want in life. Many of them will soon be too old for the system. The place that protects abandoned, abused and neglected kids will release them on their own. Will the glimpse they have in writing their stories help shape what comes next? One can only hope.

We talk about what stories mean overall: Good triumphs over evil (the girl with the belt). Self-control leads to happiness (the girl with the liquid brown eyes. In her story, her main character is ultimately reunited with her family. She joins a baseball team.)

Stories reflect the heartbeat of the universe. All of us pulse to this universal rhythm. The more integrated the hero’s journey in our psyches, the more satisfying the act of writing and the more meaningful life becomes.

The paradigm of endings causing new beginnings causing discomfort that builds to a crisis happens over and over again in stories. Our lives revolve in much the same way on both grand and minute scales.

Open your eyes after a Crisis. Wake up to the deeper meaning of life around you. Let go of attachments. Break free from anxiety. Determine what you really want. Rise up out of depression. Locate opportunities for transformation. Let go of disappointment. Expose your fear to the light.

Shine a light on your life through your writing. Awareness leads to the possibility of transformation. 

Dream big. 

Write that

0 Comments on International Plot Writing Month -- Day Twelve as of 12/12/2008 6:47:00 PM
Add a Comment
16. How to Create a Classic Story Plot

The Universal Story form echoes in every great movie and in our lives, too, both as observers and as ourselves.

In some form or another, everyday we leave behind the known world and enter an unusual and exotic world of the unknown. Once there, we go through an outer journey that affects who we are internally.

The sequence repeats itself in each scene, at the chapter and act level, and in the overall story itself. We face foes and find allies. In the Middle, mostly unconscious, we stumble around, out of balance. A Crisis hits. The dark night of the soul overtakes us. Out of the darkness comes a gift = a wake-up call. But not everyone "wakes up" the first time disaster hits. Often, one Crisis hits at the halfway point only to be repeated again at the 3/4 mark.

The ascent to the Climax is about shedding the skin of who we or the characters were in order to become who we are meant to be.

How we face the Climax has everything to do with choices and grace. Transformation at depth or superficial proclamations that amount to nothing but air? Victim or victor? You decide about your own life and about your writing life, too.

When we enter a movie theater or begin a new book, we take the journey with the character.

The author creates an outer dramatic action story -- mystery, romance, historical, rescue, some concrete goal that is achieveable -- in order to show an inner character emotional development story. Both plot lines rise at the End of the Beginning, falter in the Middle, are shaken at the Crisis, and deliver at the Climax.

The showing of character transformation (along with incorporating tons of other aspects of good writing) suspends time and entertains.

At its best, a story not only transforms the character.

Truly great stories transform the reader, too.

What stories have transformed you?

0 Comments on How to Create a Classic Story Plot as of 1/1/1900
Add a Comment
17. Meaning of the Crisis & Climax Cont.

Continued from 8/22 blog post:

One of the most gratifying aspects of reading and going to the theater is the experience of living someone else's life (meaning to enter into the protagonist's skin) and surviving a Crisis. Stories give us the idea that we, too, can survive the dark night of the soul and know that moment when consciousness slays the ego. 

Suspense builds as we read or watch for what the character does next.

When we, in real life, get hit with a Crisis, we can either accept what is and move on OR we can return to unconsciousness, crippled by victimhood. 

In stories, the Crisis (the scene of most energetic intensity in the story so far) serves as a slap in the face, a wake-up call, the moment when the character becomes conscious of life's deeper meaning (thematic significance = look for more on this in the next blog post). 

Stories are about, at their core, their essence, character transformation. After the Crisis, in order for character transformation to occur, the character moves out of unconsciousness to a place of acceptance. 

The author decides whether the character will move from the Crisis to acceptance only, or whether she will move on into enjoyment and ultimately, if she sets a goal for herself, to enthusiasm. 

After the Crisis, the character is now consciously even more aware of all the sensory details around her, more alive, more alert. She is absolutely present in what she does. The reader senses the alert, alive stillness within the character in the background of the action. 

Her earlier goal -- outer purpose -- expands into something much bigger now that she is empowered by consciousness. This new strength, insight, power fills her with enjoyment in the next step towards transformation. Added to that enjoyment comes an intensity and creative power beyond her imagining.

Once the character is awakened -- thanks to the Crisis, -- she moves toward her outer goal and her enjoyment turns into enthusiasm. From this moment on, the story's energy field vibrates. Tension builds. Behind each step the character takes, the story grows in intensity and energy. 

The character is more involved in each step (moment-by-moment action) as she steadily moves toward her goal than she is at arriving to her goal. Stress falls away. Confident she will arrive at her goal, in the knowing, she savors each moment in aliveness, joy, and power.

"[The character] will feel like an arrow that is moving toward the target--and enjoying the journey." A New Earth by Eckhart Tolle.

The Climax is the "target" -- the moment when the character steps out of her ego and into pure alignment with the creative source. 

The Climax (the scene of highest energetic intensity much more so than that of the Crisis) is the place where the character is once again tested. In the Climax, the character is often confronted again by her greatest antagonist. Unlike earlier encounters, this time, however, the character is able to yield, walk around, embrace, or turn the opposing energy into a helpful one. Because of all the antagonists she has been confronted by and learned from along the way (the Middle = 1/2), at the Climax, the character is able to show us yet another way to live life in triumph. 

The reason the story can not continue for many pages moments or pages after the Climax is that when a goal is met the tension is gone. 

In the Resolution, the character surrenders to the return movement in a state of joy and the story ends. 

In a series, at the end of one story, the author promises a new wave of creative energy to come along with renewed enthusiasm.

(NOTE: I invite you to also consider the above elements of the Universal Story form as a template for your own individual writer's journey. In your knowing of the structure, you are able to bypass a Crisis yourself and rather, everyday write with a sense of consciousness more concerned with the next sentence than reaching the end, more concerned with sending out queries than attaining an agent, more concerned with your next story than reviews...)

1 Comments on Meaning of the Crisis & Climax Cont., last added: 8/25/2009
Display Comments Add a Comment
18. Plot versus Character

Funny to have two plot consultations with two different writers with such antithetical points of view when it comes to Plot versus Character.

In my previous blog post, I ranted about plot getting a bad rap. The day after, I consult with a writer who cares only for plot (or, since I believe character transformation is critical to plot, rather the dramatic action side of plot.) This writer states his preference right up front when he declares that he doesn't know how the character changes (Character Emotional Development) or what the story means over all (Thematic Significance). Further, he informs me, he doesn't care about that. All he wants is an action-packed story that will sell. (mass-market airport book as described by yesterday's writer)

Hmmmmm, I know there are writers of mystery and suspense who are quite successful without doing much to develop the character. But, it seems odd to me to think of a character going through all she does and not be affected by the dramatic action on some level -- perhaps not to a level of transformation but at least change. And, at the end of a long, exciting read, why not leave the reader with something to think about?

Oh, well, those are my ideals.

I'm here to support writers in their quest to follow their dreams. Not to judge. At least, not too harshly, but to help writers develop their stories.

When I have a spare moment -- yeah, right!-- I plan to do a survey of writers and ask what is their preference for writing Character-driven versus Action-driven stories AND which do they prefer reading?? Stay tuned....

3 Comments on Plot versus Character, last added: 12/12/2009
Display Comments Add a Comment