While taking a workshop with author Janice MacDonald on developing a traditional fiction story plot (the kind with a beginning, middle and end), I decided to modify one of the templates that came with my Pages program into a set of worksheets. These worksheets can help you outline your fiction plot and determine the story structure.
Check out More Tips & Tools from Creative Writing classes!
The first two are blank worksheets. You can copy them, fill them in, cut them up, move things around. Use them as you wish. There’s a place at the top for the name of novel or chapter and for defining the genre and the characters involve or whatever works for you.
You may want to read some of the other posts on various ways to approach plot and motivation. You can then work with the blank storyboards in developing the internal and external events.
DOWNLOAD the Novel Storyboard Worksheet PDF
DOWNLOAD the Chapter Storyboard Worksheet PDF
The third worksheet is my own creation from the various things I’ve learned about the traditional story structure. I want to give a big thanks to Janice MacDonald who clarified a great deal of the standard novel structure with her own plot grid. It’s the basis for my small variations.
DOWNLOAD the Traditional Fiction Writing Plot Development Storyboard PDF
While the storyboard is designed for the typical 20-chapter genre novel, simply expand the number of chapters between the Plot Points and the Crisis to meet your needs. The last page of the storyboard contains with a basic summary of a traditional novel plot structure as well as 10 Question For Developing Your Plot which help you determine the internal motivation and well as the strongest conflicts confronting your primary character or protagonists. Continue reading
I’m about to confess to a horrible crime (at least in some people’s minds), but first let me say I’m doing a bit of a Dance of Joy because while driving to pick up bird and wildlife food, the theme of my NaNoWriMo project finally came to me today .
For me, theme is like my destination in a cross-country trip. If I don’t know my theme, I don’t know where I’m going. Now I know some of you are saying, “Carolyn, you ignorant slug! (to paraphrase SNL) You’re climax is where you’re going.”
Sure, my climax is my ultimate destination, but if I don’t know my theme, I don’t know my route. I don’t know How I’m going to get to my climax because I don’t know Why I’m taking this trip. Continue reading
While everyone else is carving pumpkins and hunting for a black turtle neck and New Balance sneakers, in between desperately trying to finish my house repairs before freezing temperatures arrive, I’m preparing for NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month).In the Seattle area, the NaNoWriMo fans filled not one, but two plot development workshops in a few short hours of registration. So I thought I’d put up some NaNoWriMo Preparation Tips and ideas for those of us who didn’t get to attend.
As a writer I consider words and reading important. But I was also trained in the visual and graphic arts and have longed been attuned to the type and fonts that create the words and make them legible — or not, that can enhance the meaning of the text — or undermine it, that can influence whether we even read a single word — or all of them. I’ve also been keenly aware for some time that we are moving from text to verbal and visual communication. Oral traditions and pictographs gave way to literacy which will eventually give way to voices (mostly computer generated) and images.
So what does this all have to do with Steve Jobs and the iPhone?
The New York Times has an interesting article on the decline in sales and marketing of the mass-market paperback. The industry experts in the article attribute the largest cause to the recession and e-readers and the release of hardcover titles as reduced price e-books faster than the release of the paperback. They also implicate the discounting of hardcover titles by chain, and now independent, booksellers.
All of these are certainly contributing factors, not the least of which is the recession and the increasing loss of the middle-class and its discretionary income. Add to this the decline in readership period and its clear that the mass-market paperback is becoming less profitable and therefore less viable.
But I think the article misses two key factors: Continue reading
Blake Snyder’s Cat series makes it easy to visualize your plot
A friend of mine who writes urban fantasy novels turned me on to Blake Snyder’s Save the Cat!® The Last Book on Screenwriting You’ll Ever Need and his technique of developing story plots. I was skeptical at first since I’d gone through a screenwriting phase a few years back and thought I’d pretty much read and discovered everything there was to developing plot as if writing a screenplay, but I picked up some new techniques and ideas from Mr. Snyder. I’ve added a quick summary worksheet below that you can download to get a feel for the technique.
The Atlantic Monthly has a terrific article about what makes a good story and characterization. It’s a piece by author Tim O’Brien explaining how each time he sits in a writer’s workshop and manuscript critique the comments usually focus on verisimilitude when the real problem is a failure of imagination. O’Brien uses some excellent fiction writing examples and I highly recommend it to every writer, fiction and non-fiction.
Here’s a hidden gem of a site for fiction, nonfiction and fan writers
Strangely enough I was first introduced to this site from an internet marketing blog. I’m not certain why I haven’t found it before from either a fiction, nonfiction or fan writing website or one of the education and training websites I frequent. But this site has a huge list of resources, some of which I hadn’t found before, for writers of all kinds. It’s worth a look.
Doris Booth, founder and agent with the Authorlink Literary Group and Authorlink.com, presented a workshop at the DFW Writers Conference, May 2, 2009 entitled:
Navigating the Changing Book Industry
— an insider’s view of what writers should know
On May 2, 2009, the DFW Writers Conference (sponsored by the DFW Writers’ Workshop) hosted a Question and Answer Session with a panel of literary agents. Agents on the panel were Doris Booth, Sally Harding, Al Longden and Dr. Uwe Stender. The following are highlights from my notes during the session. It is by no means a complete transcription of the session but there were a number of interesting points brought up that indicated some of the focus of subsequent workshops. I’ve added a few of my own personal comments and observations.
Harding: YA (Young Adult) is over bought. She’s looking for classic epic fantasy with a fresh take for the U.S. and U.K. markets.
Stender: Selling non-fiction today requires “a big platform.” He went on to explain an author needs to be a celebrity, preferrably with his or her own show; a popular blogger; or have a degree from a major university to get his interest in a non-fiction manuscript.