OK, sit back and enjoy the ride. Here’s some plot advice from someone who had to teach herself how to plot with a sledgehammer and crowbar.
I went to the Clarion Science Fiction Writers Workshop at age 21 and didn’t know what a story was. I estimate it took me another 10 years to finally comprehend plot in the form of a short story. I then wrote 3 novels (2 “for hire”) and finally began to slightly comprehend plot at longer lengths. By working on scripts I began to understand “A” story and “B” story. I finally began to “get” how the skeins of plot come together to form a cohesive whole.
Plot is what happens in the story because of who the characters are and what their context is – time, place, and above all, circumstance.
Just as in real life, we all have [...]
Continue reading Amy Sterling Casil on Plot: WTF is Going On?
In my last post I talked about how it’s character that makes each story unique, not plot, and ran over some of the history of human endeavor trying to codify story-forms and my personal creed of creating characters. However, characters don’t exist in a vacuum. They require a plot in which to exist, space in which to gain momentum and careen and bounce off the walls and other people.
The reality of publishing is that most modern commercial fiction – read as genre fiction – is plot driven. How do you write compelling plots?
A plot is only effective as its cast or dramatis personae, the protagonist(s), antagonist(s), and supporting characters. If a main character is flat or unrealized, then the plot will be sluggish. If I’m writing a horror novel and my audience has no engagement with my characters, then I can place the characters in conflict [...]
Continue reading John Hornor Jacobs: A Few Thoughts on Plotting
Inspired by a lifelong love of nature, endless curiosity, and a belief in wonderful things, Amy Sterling Casil is a 2002 Nebula Award nominee and recipient of other awards and recognition for her short science fiction and fantasy, which has appeared in publications ranging from The Magazine of Fantasy & Science Fiction to Zoetrope. She is the author of 26 nonfiction books, over a hundred short stories, primarily science fiction and fantasy, two fiction and poetry collections, and three novels. She lives in Aliso Viejo, California with her daughter Meredith and a Jack Russell Terrier named Gambit. Amy is the founder of Pacific Human Capital, a founding member and treasurer of Book View Café author cooperative and former treasurer of the Science Fiction & Fantasy Writers of America, and teaches writing and composition at Saddleback College, after receiving her MFA from Chapman University in 1999. She is currently engaged in [...]
Continue reading Amy Sterling Casil on Character: Who is in the Story and Why?
John Hornor Jacobs’ first novel, Southern Gods, was published by Night Shade Books and shortlisted for the Bram Stoker Award. His second novel, This Dark Earth, was published in J2012 by Simon & Schuster. His young adult series, The Incarcerado Trilogy comprised of The Twelve Fingered Boy, The Shibboleth, and The Conformity, is published by Lerner Books. His first fantasy series, The Incorruptibles will be published in Spring 2014 by Gollancz in the UK. John is the co-founder of Needle: A Magazine of Noir and was the active creative director until fall 2012. He has a quartet of horror stories, Fierce As The Grave, available through Amazon.com on the Kindle platform. He’s represented by Stacia Decker of the Donald Maass Literary Agency. You can learn more about John Hornor Jacobs on his website, johnhornorjacobs.com, or follow his lively conversation on Twitter @johnhornor and Facebook www.facebook.com/John.Hornor
So, you’ve [...]
Continue reading John Hornor Jacobs on Character
We hope you’ve been enjoying all the marvelous guests we’ve brought you so far in 2014. Trust me, we have even more writers and their books to introduce to you as the months move along, so you’re not allowed to be mad at us when your to-be-read stack climbs higher than your bedside table. *laughs*
Today everyone’s taking a break, so I thought I’d drop over to mention that Faith Hunter, David B Coe and I (Misty Massey) are very excited about the upcoming Magical Words Writing Workshop, which is taking place during Congregate in July. It’s an intensive two-day seminar offering detailed, specific feedback on the first 2500 words of your manuscript from all three of us. Not only that, but members of the class will be able to offer feedback to each other as well. And since we’re teamed with Congregate 2014, you have the [...]
Continue reading Magical Words Writing Workshop
Chloe Neill ( Photo credit: Dana Damewood)
Let’s get the disclaimer out there and up front: I have absolutely no clue how to find balance in a writing life. But I’m trying to learn.
I have a full time (plus) dayjob, and a very full writing life. I’ve written a YA series (Dark Elite), a PNR/UF series (Chicagoland Vampires), and I’m hoping to announce my next project within the next couple of weeks. That one will intersect with CV, so I’ll be writing two projects at a time. Not unusual for a genre author, but not the easiest course for someone with a dayjob.
So, yeah. Professionally, I lead a pretty full life.
I try to compartmentalize the professions as much as possible. Daylight hours during the week are for the dayjob. Evenings and weekends are for writing. Obviously, the divisions aren’t always that clean: my editor may [...]
Continue reading Cartwheels on the Tightrope: Finding Balance in the Writing Life
Diana Pharaoh Francis
Our final contestant in the first page critique games is Andrea with an excerpt from Twelveland. I’m assuming it’s YA or middle grade. Remember the publisher assumes the oldest reader of the book will be the same age as the protagonist. There are exceptions–Harry Potter anyone?–but this is the general rule of thumb. I don’t think anyone predicted how universal Harry Potter would turn out to be.
And now, on with the show:
Twelveland by Andrea de Regt
At the sound of the harsh voices, the boy cowered in his too small cage. The troll queen and her sister faced each other threateningly right before him: two huge heads with green-purplish, pocked skin and bristly short hair, their fangs and snout-like noses almost touching. Kieran was glad their anger was not aimed at him, but this could change faster than a dragon’s swoop.
There’s nothing particularly [...]
Continue reading First Page Critique the Sixth