Your Input Needed

focusHappy New Year to all of my faithful readers!  The Write Power is going through a transformation this year, and I need your input.  

This blog focuses on the ABCs of fiction writing.  Thus far, I have been devoting Mondays to the fiction writer’s ATTITUDE, Wednesdays to the BUSINESS of fiction writing, and Fridays to the CRAFT of fiction writing.

I am considering fine-tuning my focus to only the CRAFT of fiction writing and to posting only once a week.  Will this new focus meet your needs as a fiction writer? Or do you prefer the original ABC approach to my posts: Attitude, Business, and Craft?  If you prefer the new focus, what specific topics on the craft of fiction would be most helpful to you?

My desire is to serve you by providing topnotch information to help you grow as a fiction writer. Thank you so very much for your valued input.

 

Blessings,

MaryAnn

(Craft) Plot Points

Plot points are the hinges on which your story hang.  They are the points to which we write and from which we write. 

Plot points must occur in the right places in order for your story to be structured properly. The First Plot Point occurs at the end of the first act of your story. Author and writing coach Larry Brooks, in his outstanding book Story Engineering, calls it “the most important moment in your story” (p. 173). It is the point when everything in your heroine’s life suddenly changes, compelling her to respond in some way. This response sets in motion the story’s conflict.

The Second Plot Point is the point at which you, the author, have your last opportunity to add new information into your story.  After the Second Plot Point, you can add no new information without jeopardizing the structure of your story and the allegiance of your reader.  It is at the Second Plot Point that your story moves from crisis or climax to resolution.

 It is a good idea to establish your plot points before you write your story. If not, at least make sure that you place them in the proper places in your story.

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Resources Cited: 
Brooks, Larry. STORY ENGINEERING. Writer’s Digest Books. Cinncinnati, 2011.
Field, Syd. THE DEFINITIVE GUIDE TO SCREENWRITING. Ebury Press, UK, 2003.

Copyright by Dr. MaryAnn Diorio. All Rights Reserved.

Preventing a Sagging Middle

It’s a known fact that one of the most challenging parts of writing a novel is the middle. Most of us have little trouble building momentum in the beginning of our story and then winding down at the end. But, oh, the middle!  How do we keep it from sagging?

Here are a few tips that may help you as they have helped me:

1-Up the stakes for your main character. Usually a middle sags because the tension sags. Ask yourself what new problem you can introduce for your character in the middle of your story. This new problem could be in the form of an unexpected turn of events or even a new character.

2-Introduce a “ticking clock”.  Perhaps your main character learns that she must accomplish something by a certain deadline or else something terrible will happen to her or someone she loves.

3-Introduce a complication. This could be something in your main character’s past that has been hidden up until this point.

4-Put the main character in a new location, preferably one she didn’t anticipate. Adding a new dimension to your story almost always causes reader interest to rise.  Perhaps your main character’s boss taps her to go on a business trip on the other side of the world. Depending on her occupation, perhaps she is assigned to handle a secret mission of some sort.

5-Reveal something from the main character’s past that has serious implications in her life now. This could be virtually anything. Perhaps she discovers she has a half-brother she never knew about. Or perhaps she learns that the man she thought was her father is not her father.

You can avoid a sagging middle if you plan ahead.  If your interested in more information on doing so, check out Alicia Rasley’s article, Tightening the Sagging Middle.

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Copyright 2010 by Dr. MaryAnn Diorio. All rights reserved. This article may not be published or reprinted in any way or by any means without the written permission of the author. Violators will be prosecuted.

 

(Craft) Pantster? Plotter? Or Plotpantster? Or Maybe Even Pantsplotter?

It takes all kinds of novelists to make the novel-writing world. While some of my best writer friends are straight pantsters and some are straight plotters, I fall somewhere in between.  I like the security of structure; i.e., knowing where I’m going.  At the same time, I love the surprise of discovering serendipities along the way.

So what’s a novelist to do?

Simple. Combine the panster and the plotter. I did so and came up with the “plantster”.  Or, if you prefer, the plotster.  Or, Il’l go you one even better: how about the plotpanster or the pantsplotter? (I rather like this latter, although it sounds like a term a tailor would use, LOL..)

All fun aside, combining the intentional structure of the plotter with the whimsy of the pantster gives me the best of both worlds. And what novelist can ask for more than that?

Now, it’s your turn. What kind of novelist are you?
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Copyright 2013 by MaryAnn Diorio, PhD. All Rights Reserved.

(Craft) That Critical First Page

Beginning is half done. So goes an old proverb that we can apply to fiction writing.

The beginning of your story sets the tone for the rest of your story. Indeed, the first page is probably your most important page. If your beginning is not strong, you may not get the chance to showcase the rest of your story because an editor or agent will not keep reading it.

So how can you ensure that your story starts right?  Here are a few tips. 

1) Start your story with your protagonist. Ask yourself: “Whose story is this?” Readers identify with the first character mentioned in your story, so introduce your main character in the first paragraph.

2) Make your protagonist sympathetic. By this I mean create an emotional bond between your reader and your protagonist. I call this bond emotional equity.  Your reader must care about your protagonist. Your protagonist’s story must be worthy of your reader’s time.

3) Show your protagonist in the NOW (in medias res). What is your protagonist involved in as the story opens? What conflict is she facing? It is far better to show your protagonist in the midst of a struggle than to start your story with her reflecting on the past.

4) Establish the setting and time period.  Readers want to know from the start where and when the story takes place. They need to be oriented to give them a sense of direction for your story.

5) Avoid giving back story on the first page. Back story slows down your story. Your goal on the first page is to create story momentum right away. Your first page is like the launching pad of your story. You want a launch that will immediately thrust your reader into the fictive dream and keep her there.

What other tips can you offer to make that critical first page shine?
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Copyright 2013 by Dr. MaryAnn Diorio. All Rights Reserved.