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:
These are some more tips from romantic travel writer Janice MacDonald’s on First Chapters.
- Don’t sweat it initially, it will change.
- When you’re ready to return to it, consider the following:
- start as close to the end without leaving out important information
- open with action
- quickly establish: who, what, where, when and why
The essential elements of a marketable novel author Janice MacDonald teaches in her writing course are:
- Sense of place
- Interesting characters
- Compelling dialogue (she’s English)
- Strong storyline (one with a logical pattern)
- Appropriate pacing
- Distinctive voice
- Particular point of view
- Slowly revealed secret or answer (the presentation of information)
John Truby’s screenwriting courses and software are a staple of screenwriting classes worldwide. His book,The Anatomy of Story: 22 Steps to Becoming a Master Storyteller
, presents his “Twenty-Two Building Blocks” plot structure is a classic. I purchased one of his first video writing courses mumblety-mumblety years ago when I was writing comedy and spent a lot of time in L.A. Truby combines the mythic story structure of Joseph Campbell (used for such blockbusters as “Star Wars”) with some original expansion to create his twenty-two building blocks. The overall structure is loosely follows the three-act format.
A key concept of Truby’s technique is that plot is what the Character does while the Character is defined by his actions. Essentially, the plotline is the result of the Hero’s (Protagonist’s) actions movtivated by his internal need and an external desire or goal. It’s the classic story structure and in his works, Truby applies his structure to a number of successful classic films (keep in mind Truby has always focused on screenwriting, however, his techniques are the same ones used by blockbuster and enduring novelist as well).
The Twenty-Two Building Blocks
I’ve seen dozens of variations on story plot arcs through the years (and I’ll be posting at least 3). I read writing books and went to classes and workshops to avoid facing the muddle that was my middle, but somehow Janice MacDonald’s version clicked. I then joined NaNoWriMo in 2007 followed by a friend asking me to review her first draft. At that point, the mist parted and I decided to compile my notes into a storyboard format à la Apple Pages template. My template can be found here: Traditional Plot Development Storyboard
The basic structure is as follows: Continue reading