Christina Henry–Plot and the Protag

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I’ve written seven books in the BLACK WINGS series and one stand-alone novel (the forthcoming ALICE, August 2015) and I’m pretty sure I can’t tell you a single useful thing about how I plotted any of them. I know, this sounds a lot like what I said about writing character last week. The trouble is that I just don’t spend that much time thinking in a concrete way about the plots of my books. I don’t have a nice neat formal method.

This is what I do: I start writing the book. And then I see what happens next.

All my books begin with the protagonist, and I tend to let the protagonist dictate the action that follows. I don’t write an outline, summary or synopsis of any kind. I just let the book unfold as I write it chronologically.

I do have a general idea of where the [...]

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Sentence Structure — the Musical Soundtrack to our Writing

Faith HunterFaith Hunter

We talked a bit about sentence structure at one of the Cons this year, discussing how important it is to know the various ways to string words together. Sentence structure is one of the most important tools in the writer’s tool box. In fact, sentence structure is the background music to the movie of our book. It sets pace, rhythm, and voice. It also contributes to the character and narrative voice. It can’t be over emphasized. But it is almost always under emphasized.

Let me illustrate.

The info I (the writer) want to convey to the audience (the readers) in the opening of a short story is:

Jane Yellowrock has a Harley named Bitsa. Jane is riding Bitsa to a meeting withLeo Pellissier (her boss, a vampire, who bit her once). Jane is in a hurry, driving through NOLA past Jackson Square. It is raining and humid and the city [...]

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On Outlining and Not

Diana Pharaoh FrancisDiana Pharaoh Francis

I can’t decide if I’m late or early on this post. The main problem is that I’m on the road with the family and time has become . . . fluid.

I want to talk to you about plotting. When I first started writing, I would create an outline. It wasn’t a really in-depth outline. It usually covered the beginning, the major plot points, and the ending. One thing to remember about plot is that it’s a causal sequence of events. Causal is important, because in my plotting, I’d know why a character did something and how that ended up creating the next plot point, and so on. So when plotting, I’d start with the characters and the world, and I’d stir up some trouble, and think how they dealt with that, and what that caused, and so on. I usually would have some sort of main event or problem [...]

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It’s Raining Deadlines — Jim C. Hines

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Faith Hunter was kind enough to invite me to do a guest post for Magical Words back in January of this year. We agreed I’d contribute a post for early August, to coincide with the release of Codex Born. And then I did something that makes me Hulk out and smash my desk: I forgot about the commitment I’d made, and missed my deadline.

I emailed her to apologize. Fortunately, Faith is both kind and forgiving. As a fellow author, I think she understands that no matter how hard we try, sometimes life gets in the way. She commented in her email to me, “For instance, today, I have to get groceries, go to the vet and the dry-cleaners, show up for a doctor’s apt, and, oh yeah. Write a couple thousand words.”

Sometimes things slip through the cracks. Sometimes we blow it.

This wasn’t much of an issue when [...]

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Joshua Palmatier — Plot: Losing Control

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SHATTERING THE LEY: Plot: Losing Control

Welcome to my third guest post about my new novel, SHATTERING THE LEY (in stores now)! Again, thanks to Magical Words for inviting me.

As you may have read in my previous post about character, I’m an organic writer, sometimes also called a pantser. What this means is that I don’t have much of a plan when I sit down to write my novels. Usually I have a few “guideposts”—basically a couple of plot elements that I think are going to happen (usually something about halfway through and something at the end). But when I sit down to write, I let the characters take control. Most of the time, the characters end up in situations close to those initial guideposts. But sometimes . . . not so much.

That “not so much” happened with SHATTERING THE LEY. Almost as soon as I sat down [...]

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Joshua Palmatier — Character: Taking Control

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SHATTERING THE LEY: Character: Taking Control

Welcome to my second guest post here at Magical Words! Thanks again for having me, guys.

I’d like to focus on characters, now that the main promo push is over. (You did run out and buy SHATTERING THE LEY, right?) As I said in the previous post, when I described the setting for LEY, having a great idea or setting isn’t enough for a story. The world of LEY had been simmering inside my head for quite a while, but it’s necessary to take that cool idea and make it come alive with the intervention of some cool characters. For this world, I knew that one of the main characters would have to be someone who could manipulate the ley lines that powered the city. If that’s the central element that makes my world different, I needed someone who would be working intimately [...]

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Writer’s Retreats — Our Thoughts, Part Two

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***THE BLOGGER***

Two years ago, I went to my first ConCarolinas and had the great good fortune to meet several of the MagicalWords.net authors, as well as several fans and MW participants. One group of us in particular really hit it off and agreed to meet up again the next year. At the end of *that* con, as Melanie described, our final gathering resulted in “let’s have a writers’ retreat next year”. Like you do.

Imagine my surprise – all of our surprise, I think – as we started trading emails and beginning to discuss plans, and everyone remained enthusiastic. Along the way, a couple of people had to withdraw from the retreat itself for different reasons, but they stayed active and encouraging in the discussions all the same.

And what a real thrill to learn that Faith would be able to join us, both for some much needed post-con [...]

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