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Viewing: Blog Posts Tagged with: a memoir, Most Recent at Top [Help]
Results 1 - 7 of 7
1. Finding the True Protagonist of Your Story

Some writers start out writing a story knowing exactly who and what they are writing about and stay true to that vision from beginning to the end. Others write about one character doing one thing, then switch to another character doing something else, and then switch back to the first character or switch to an entirely new person with different action. Switching viewpoints reveals a multitude of sides to a story. Switching too many times leads to a tangled mess.

A writer works on the same historical novel for 5 years. She writes a completed draft from beginning to end in 3rd person omniscient. The time she takes researching and writing the first draft serves her well; she knows all the angles of her exotic and mysterious world and all the nuances of her major characters.

Unsatisfied with the distance created by the omniscient pov, she undertakes writing the story from beginning to end from the pov of a major male character in the clergy who is a true historic figure. Quickly, the writer knows he is the wrong choice to carry the story. She comes to me when she decided to write the story from the pov of view of the Grand Empress of her story -- a true historical figure.

Thanks to her broad and deep understanding of her story and the time and place in which the story takes place and a firm understanding of the craft of plotting, she plots out the entire story from the new viewpoint character's pov.

As she relates the scenes of the story, the writer struggles to surrender the story to the empress and release or push into the background some of the major elements that developed while writing the first draft and a half.

Once she sees the entire story through the empress's hopes and dreams and goals and the character arc develop smoothly from her personal character traits, slowly, the writer embraces the new story line. By the end of our time together, she accepts which scenes belong in the story and which ones need to be tweaked to support the empress's primary plot.

No time is ever lost when writing a story from beginning to end. Every draft, every dream, every scene makes for a better writer.

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 (Now also as a Kindle edition)

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2. Back to Plot Basics

She reports that some members of her critique group love the beauty of her language. Others complain about her story moving too slowly, that all the scenes seem the same, that the protagonist is "reporting" the story rather than living it.

The group gives the piece a B+ for the beautiful language. They call the structure and the pacing poor and give both elements of the story a D.

She starts off with two different beginnings. Her desire is to give readers the choice to pick which beginning they like the best. Instead, the beginning comes off as distancing and confusing and self-conscious. Rather than slip into the action of the story, the reader reads the words that form into sentences and then paragraphs and chapters, all tedious and drowning in details and making the story off-putting.

Some critique members quit reading before reaching even the middle of the story. Others read out of respect. Those who continue reading finally find themselves truly committing to the story at the halfway mark.

What do I do? wails the writer.

It all comes back to what does the character want?

You don't know what she wants? Ask the writers in critique group. They know what she wants.

What is she willing to do to achieve what she wants. What stands in her way of success?

Push aside the words and analyze the energy of the story.

The stronger the pressure (antagonists) is against her, the greater the strength the protagonist gains when she confronts and overcomes that force. The greater the force is against her, the bigger the change in her direction toward her ultimate goal. The more dramatic the change in direction, the greater excitement and anticipation in the reader and audience.

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 (Now also as a Kindle edition)

3. 4th Annual Plot Writing Month -- Day Six

Rather than start at the Climax at the End and work backwards, this year, I'm going to ask you first to focus on the Middle.

The Middle is the territory of the antagonists and subplots.

Make a list of the antagonists that/who interfere with the protagonist achieving her goal. The more at odds the rules and expectations made by society and created by the government, religious groups, bosses, schools, neighbors, our families and ourselves the protagonist the more tension is created in the story. For the protagonist to achieve her personal desires and save the species, grow and change and transform she ultimately will be challenged to break out and break away.

Mark each of the antagonists on your list that constitutes a subplot and runs primarily from the beginning of the middle to the end of the middle -- in other words, runs through the middle only (other than foreshadowing in the beginning).

For any major subplots, create a Plot-Planner-in-a-Plot-Planner. The subplots' Plot Planner, like the subplot runs only in the Middle, and has 4 Energetic Markers as does the Plot Planner for the overall story.

Keep track of how the themes of the subplots add to the overall story thematic significance

Don't stress about how much you get done here. Every time you turn your focus to this sort of detailed examination of your story, you deepen your understanding of what your story is truly attempting to convey to you. Look for tension in your story while eliminating tension in you about this plot analyzation process. At the heart of the work we do here is the Universal Story. Take a cleansing breath and keep going...

If you're joining 4th Annual PlotWriMo for the 1st time,
7 Comments on 4th Annual Plot Writing Month -- Day Six, last added: 12/8/2011
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4. Universal Story -- Test Your Story

The next Plot Series: How Do I Plot a Novel, Memoir, Screenplay? Plot Book Group for Writers has officially begun!

Every Monday we upload a new video with a brief plot discussion, using a new novel, memoir or screenplay selection each month -- this month is Major Pettigrew's Last Stand by Helen Simonson.

At the end of each session, you are assigned a task to apply to your own novel, memoir, screenplay. These exercises are designed to give you the opportunity to deepen your relationship to your story's plot and structure, character development and thematic significance.

For added support regarding each week's plot discussion, you are invited to view a specific video(s) in the 1st Plot Series: How Do I Plot a Novel, Memoir, Screenplay?
and to follow along in The Plot Whisperer: Secrets of the Universal Story Structure Any Writer Can Master

For more about the Universal Story and writing a novel, memoir or screenplay, visit 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.

For more tips about how to use plot and the Universal Story in your novel, memoir or screenplay, read: The Plot Whisperer: Secrets of the Universal Story Structure Any Writer Can Master
and visit:
2 Comments on Universal Story -- Test Your Story, last added: 9/15/2011
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5. Evolution of a Book -- Part Three: Working with an Editor

I like to think of them as potter people. People who look like us but are more eccentric, often with a flair of whimsy. They magically appear, complete a task effortlessly and disappear -- the exact right person at the exact right time.

Peter Archer is a bit of a potter person to me. He also exemplifies to me an East Coast intellectual. Granted, my impressions are just that... I have never met the man. He was the editor assigned me for The Plot Whisperer: Secrets of Story Structure Any Writer Can Master. I admire him greatly.

By the time I met Peter, via email and phone, Cathy and I had begun shooting the final steps of the Plot Series -- Step 22: How Do I Plot the Beginning of the End of a Novel, Memoir, Screenplay .

(As I write this post, I am struck by how the timing of the vlog steps fall into place according the principles of the Universal Story. At the time, if I was consciousness of that at all, it was buried beneath the task at hand -- writing a book worthy of publication.)

Thanks to Peter, the rough draft of The Plot Whisperer: Secrets of the Universal Story Structure Any Writer Can Master turned into an amazing book.

I started the vlog with literary examples of novels, memoirs and screenplays to "show" the concepts covered. Where the vlog leaves off, the Plot Whisperer book expands to even more examples to guide you through the process of writing the story inside of you from beginning to end. Examples come from picture books, middle grade and young adult and adult fiction, mysteries, romance, literary, screenplays, memoirs and more. Visual aides are included throughout the book to help ground the more abstract concepts.

Beneath the surface of both the vlog and the book is the element I am most passionate about --
2 Comments on Evolution of a Book -- Part Three: Working with an Editor, last added: 8/22/2011
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6. Writing to the End

A joy working with a writer who looks to the end of her story for clues as to what belongs in the beginning. 

Do you know the ending for your story?

How many books have you written from the beginning all the way to the end?
How many times have you written the beginning quarter of the book you are writing now versus how many times have you written the final quarter?

Would you call yourself someone who finishes what she begins? Someone who achieves her goals? 

If not, what or whom is stopping you?

When do you predict you will finish the story you are working on now?

For tips about the Universal Story and writing a novel, memoir or screenplay, visit 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. Enjoy!

2 Comments on Writing to the End, last added: 6/13/2011
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7. Writing Deadlines

Nothing worse than when a writer commits to a deadline and then is unable / unwilling to accomplish the feat. Well, that's a bit extreme but too often, I see what happens when writers fail to meet deadlines. 

Such a failure frustrates me personally because rather than move forward in our consulting sessions, even if the writer tells me how much research she accomplished or thought she gave or plotting she did, if she is not writing, we are standing still. 

Two, a writer's writing time is just that. Time to write. Not to brainstorm with others or to organize your space or to read internet news or play solitaire on your computer. Your writing time is time to write.

When breaking deadlines is chronic, though I can always cancel sessions until productivity improves, the writer's disrespect of herself costs her spirit (energy). 

Once or twice is to be expected but when a writer comes up with more excuses than writing, such an abuse signals a problem. 

There are two kinds of writing deadlines:

1) Deadlines imposed on you by another professional 

2) Deadlines you set for yourself 

Meeting the first kind of deadline is a critical if you wish to be a successfully published author. Book and magazine publishers, acquisition editors and critique groups expect you to be true to your word. Do that and you become a trusted  and reliable team member. 

Meeting the deadlines you set for yourself is great practice for when you are asked to keep a deadline for someone else. Also, meeting the deadlines you set for yourself is a personal message that you think enough of yourself to do what you commit to do and that you are able to count on yourself. 

Be realistic when you commit to a deadline with others and with yourself. 

Breakdown the total number of scenes or chapters or words you need to write overall 
Divide by the number of writing days you have between now and the deadline
For every working day, schedule how much productivity is required for ultimate success

Show yourself and the muse that you are to be trusted. 

Only make promises to yourself you know you can keep. 

Show up for yourself. 

Live up to your commitment and write.

Plot Series: How Do I Plot a Novel, Memoir, Screenplay? is playing on my YouTube channel. Currently, there are 21 Steps. Step 22 goes up later this weekend. A directory of the program is to your right. Each link takes you to a video that explains that particular writing concept. 

Benefits of watching the Plot Series:

1) Become a better writer 
2) Play along on The Santa Cruz Traveling Mystery Tour and win a free plot consultation with me
1 Comments on Writing Deadlines, last added: 2/20/2011
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