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Viewing: Blog Posts Tagged with: parts of a story, Most Recent at Top [Help]
Results 1 - 4 of 4
1. 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
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2. Memoir and Plot and Structure

Eat Pray Love by Elizabeth Gilbert is a character-driven memoir and motion picture of the same name.

In this story, the protagonist (I use the term character and protagonist even with a memoirist in order to make the reference less personal and to remind memoir writers to develop their character to show change and transformation) attempts to achieve her goals (outlined below). She also, on a much deeper level, undertakes an intensive spiritual investigation. As a seeker, her focus is on the search for Truth or meaning.

The book is more prose writing than in scene, in that the author spends lots of time describing Italy and India and Bali, the three places where the three segments of the book unfold. In much of the book, the author also discusses her thoughts. Because of the subjects she described ~~ the history of meditation, descriptions of the Ashram, and the like ~~ are fascinating and extremely well-written, and most readers like to learn something new through reading, many will not object to the telling nature of much of the narrative.

When Gilbert does write in scene, the descriptions and discussions have depth and impact. However, the dramatic action, when in evidence, is secondary. Her character emotional development and search for resolution and God over time carries the significance.

A thematic significance statement for Eat Pray Love could be:

A spiritual journey is challenging but, when undertaken with passion, and dedication, can transform a person enough to overcome hurt and love again.

The Beginning (1/4)
The Beginning of Eat Pray Love functions in an introductory mode as all good Beginnings do. The protagonist’s dramatic action goals are clearly outlined: 1) to spend one-third of the story in Italy learning the language, 2) one-third on her Guru’s Ashram in India in meditation, and 3) one-third in Indonesia with a medicine man. Her character emotional development goals are clearly implied: 1) undergo intensive self-inquiry, 2) recover from her recent divorce, and 3) find balance and spirituality in her life.

The Beginning of the story takes place in Italy with a goal of learning Italian. This section functions on a sensory level with lots of eating great bread and pastries, drinking wine, and meeting terrific men. Of the three sections, Italy is the least challenging for the author, which is fine because this is where we find out her issues: she has had a spiritual crisis, which ended in a divorce and followed by an unfulfilling relationship.

In the Beginning, and into the Middle of the memoir, the protagonist freely shows her flawed self, which, at times, comes across neurotic enough that if her writing were not so compelling, the reader might not stay with her. However, the more flawed the character, the greater the possibility in the final transformation.

The Middle (1/2)
In the Middle third, the protagonist travels to her Guru’s Ashram in India and spends her time there mostly in meditation. When she is in scene in this section, it is often with Richard from Texas who is a hoot and a compassionate mentor.

The more she has to devote to meditation, the more frustrated she becomes, which is an effective means of revealing more and more of the depth of who this person truly is. Take note: Although the project only covers one year in her life and the author has several memories of the past, there are only a couple of instances where she actually goes into a flashback.

The Middle is the territory of the antagonists and the bulk of this character’s antagonism comes from her own mind. She can’t concentrate. She can’t meditate. She can’t let go of the past. She engages in useless longings.

In her search for spirituality, “you revert from what attracts you and swim toward that which is difficult.” The more difficult her journey becomes, the more flawed we see her character. Still, as challenged as she becomes,

0 Comments on Memoir and Plot and Structure as of 3/21/2012 3:14:00 PM
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3. Chester’s Masterpiece by Chester, of course!

*Picture book for preschoolers through second graders
*A creative cat as the main character
*Rating: Chester is such a great illustrator and author–who needs that Melanie Watt? If you haven’t read any of the Chester the cat series of books yet (with NO HELP FROM Melanie), then you must check one out. So cute and funny!

Short, short summary: Chester the cat has hidden his owner’s, author and illustrator Melanie Watt’s, supplies and has taken over the creation of the book with his red pen. Chester is trying to write a masterpiece. First he steals from Twas the Night Before Christmas, and then he goes through a series of exercises to break his writer’s block. Once he’s ready, he writes some stories about himself and mouse–always ending unhappily with something tragic happening to mouse! In the end, Melanie finds her art supplies in a terrible hiding spot. . .Kids and adults will get a kick out of this hysterical picture book.

So what do I do with this book?

1. This is such a cute book. I love how “Melanie Watt” leaves editorial notes to Chester on “yellow Post-it notes.” Children will LOVE this book, and they will love to leave their own notes to Chester. While reading it, let them have some stickee notes and they can jot a few things down to Chester about his illustrations, his stories, etc.

2. This book has a lot of reading lessons in it. For example, Melanie tells Chester he needs a setting. They both draw a jungle. She asks what type of story he plans to write, and he goes through several genres like humor, action, and romance. They talk about endings, problems, and characters. It is full of things writers need to think about and address when writing a story. You can start a discussion with your class on these topics, using Chester and his masterpiece as a starting point.

3. For fun, let children try to guess where Chester hid Melanie’s art supplies. See if anyone is correct by the end of the book! :)

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4. Plot Planner

Plot your story using the universal story form for structure and impact.

A Plot Planner mimics the universal story and is the framework for developing a gripping story. Rather than creating a dry, episodic list of scenes to cover, arrange your story by cause and effect to best engage the reader.

Think of the Plot Planner as the route or map of the journey you envision for your story. When you first plan your plot, your route is likely to be sketchy with lots of gaps and dead ends. These gaps will smooth over and fill in as you come to know your story and characters better. Along your story's route, the plot elements of dramatic action, characters, and thematic significance will rise and fall, like waves cresting. The flow of these elements is like the flow of energy the Chinese call “qi” (pronounced “chi”). The qi is the mainstay of life force, inherently present in all things.

Within your story, the energy undulates. Although every story has its own energy, a universal pattern of energy rising and falling repeats itself. The greater your understanding of this stable format, the better able you are to determine where and when to allow the energy to crest, to make your story most compelling to the reader. Allow the energy of your story to direct the flow of your scenes. The closer you can re-create this pattern in your presentation to the reader, the stronger and more compelling your story. A plot planner helps you map your story's energy and direction.


All great stories have a beginning, middle and end.

1. The Beginning

The beginning usually encompasses one quarter of the entire story. Most of us start out strong in the beginning, but struggle to keep the momentum going.

2. The Middle

The middle is the longest portion of the project – one half of the entire story. It commands the most scenes, and is where many writers fall short. When the allure of the beginning is over, the story starts getting messy. Writers often know the beginning and the end of their story, but bog down in creating the middle. Crisis is the meat of the middle.

Place crisis – the scene of greatest intensity and highest energy in your story thus far – around the three-quarter point in your story, when your audience needs a recharge to combat fatigue, frustration, and irritation. Crisis is where tension and conflict peak – it is a turning point in your story. Crisis is developed through the scenes to provide the greatest impact in the energy flow of your story.

The crisis is the false summit of your case, where the audience can perceive the true summit. Here, your story’s energy drops after the drama of the crisis, giving your audience the opportunity to rebuild energy in anticipation of reaching the climax.

3. The End

The final quarter of your presentation represents the end, which comprises three parts: the build-up to the climax, the climax itself, and the resolution. The build-up to the climax represents the steps you take to lead the reader to envision how the story should end. The climax is the point of highest drama in your story, the crowning moment when the thematic significance of your story becomes clear to the reader. The resolution is your opportunity to fully tie together that significance and make your story complete.


A Plot Planner helps you visualize your story. Use a Plot Pl

5 Comments on Plot Planner, last added: 7/17/2010
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