In my last post I talked about structure (here) and shared one of the many plot charts I use while working on a book. And yes, I said “many plot charts” because there are several different approaches and sometimes what works at one stage (such as pre-planning) doesn’t work as well in another stage (like revising). (It’s been a while since I read this link so I can’t remember how on point it is, but you can get an idea of various structures here).
Today I want to spend a little more time focusing on one of the plot points you’ll find in most of those structures (and which I think is critical to almost any story): the midpoint. As you’d guess, the midpoint takes place about halfway through the book (in the middle of Act 2 for you 3 Act structure fans).
Up until this point your [...]
Continue reading The Midpoint
I have a confession to make: I ***HATE*** dream sequences and drug sequences in my books, movies, and television shows. (You might think that I’m being a bit too forceful, with stars, capital letters, bold, and increased font size. Believe me, I’m not. My goal is to make you understand the depth of my emotion on this topic.)
I get it. Authors want to convey information outside the mainstream of their narrative. They want to show a character’s inner self, her secret motivations, his true core beliefs. They want to demonstrate what happens when a character is plucked from all that is familiar and normative and thrust into a world where none of standard rules apply.
But when I read these scenes, or when I watch them, all I get is a disconnect from the story. All of the creator’s careful worldbuilding, the contract between the author/director and the reader/viewer, [...]
Continue reading Dreams, Drugs, and Yawning
I’ve been thinking a lot about structure recently and more specifically about outlining. This is not something I’m used to doing — I’ve never been much of an outliner, but over the past several months I’ve been forced to become one. For me, outlining is the first step to drafting a synopsis and I had several synopses to write in order to send various projects out on proposal.
In the past, whenever I’ve had to outline something I’ve turned to my favorite structure guru, Michael Hague. He uses a classic three-act structure and a fairly straightforward set of stages and turning points that a story moves through. Late last year, an author friend turned me on to Blake Snyder’s Save the Cat which lays out 16 plot beats at the heart of any story and I’ve found his approach to be super helpful as well (plus it meshes well with [...]
Continue reading Plot Structure Chart
Hey y’all – so sorry for being late with a post today! I’m out of town in a cabin that’s supposed to have internet access but it’s broken – d’oh! So, I’m sorry this post is (a) late and (b) short, but I wanted to at least give y’all something to be thinking about with your writing.
One of the things it’s easy to forget about when structuring a plot is the agency of your character. Put simply: your character needs to be driving the plot. They need to be the one tripping the inciting incident and making the active decision to move into the story. Even if their actions are just in reaction to external forces, they need to be taking the steps forward.
Think about the movie Romancing the Stone: Joan Wilder hears that her sister has been kidnapped and is being held ransom and she makes the [...]
Continue reading Making sure your character has agency
As many of you know, release day for BLOOD TRADE was yesterday. Once a book comes out, all preparation and blogging and hope and hard BIC and planning and more BIC in the world is … never enough. A writer just has to wait and see what happens. With the market changing daily, even hourly, it’s hard to say what the result and the final numbers will mean. Will Jane Yellowrock rise in the listing or fall flat on her face? I just don’t know.
When David and Misty and I started MagicalWords.net, it was with a hope and prayer that we’d find a way to draw in fans and writers and make a home for all of us. We had also hoped that we might grow the site, make friends with other writers, and make new fans for our writing. None of us have a lot of time on [...]
Continue reading Snippet Blood Trade
Diana Pharaoh Francis
I told you last time around that I would address how to plan a series or a trilogy. I should probably confess, I don’t know. Or rather, I do it one way and I think there must be better ways. Which is why I’m hoping some of my compatriots here will chime in. How is Faith handling the Jane Yellowrock series in terms of planning? Will David’s Thieftaker books be a trilogy or longer? How do you decide? How do you know how many books will be available?
The first thing is this: It isn’t always about what you want. Publishers sometimes buy 2 books or 3 books, and then play the “we’ll see what the numbers do” card. Well, that means if you’re planning on five books or six, then you may not get to finish out the series because your numbers aren’t good enough for the publisher to [...]
Continue reading Planning trilogies/series
Okay, I’m going to steal one of the questions from Kalayna’s recent post asking what y’all would like to hear more about and I’m going to talk about endings (thanks Hepseba!). I figure this is the kind of broad topic that each of us approaches with a different perspective and having more than one of us discuss it might be interesting.
First off, Hepseba commented with the common advice that, “you’re not even *supposed* to start the story unless you know how it ends.” I disagree. I very rarely know how my stories are going to end when I start them — I may have a vague idea, but it always feels like it’s way out there in the clouds and I won’t be able to see it until I’m much much closer (which is why I tend to spend a lot of time revising rather than outlining). There are some [...]
Continue reading On endings