(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.

(Attitude) Writing with God

In ! Corinthians 3:9, Scripture tells us that we are co-laborers with Christ. As such, we cooperate with Him in accomplishing His work in the earth.

Those of us who are writers cooperate with Christ by writing what He wants us to write when He wants us to write it and how He wants us to write it.  In other words, we submit our artistic will to the Lordship of Jesus Christ.

Writing in partnership with God requires the following character traits:

1) Attentiveness to His voice. In order to write with God, we must first be able to hear His voice. It is as God speaks to us that we know what He wants us to write for Him.

2) Obedience to His voice. Once we hear God’s voice, we must then obey it. Hearing without doing leads to deception (James 1:22).

3) Surrender to His will. God doesn’t follow market trends. God sets His own trends. As we surrender our will to HIs will, we will meet with writing success regardless of the world’s market trends.

There is no experience quite like that of discerning Holy Spirit hovering over your shoulder as you write, whispering His words of life to your spirit, processing those words through your mind, and then recording those words through your fingertips.  For the writer who follows Christ, this is what it means to write with God. 
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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.

(Business) A New Direction for 2014?

As the end of 2013 fast approaches, I’ve been reconsidering the focus of this blog.  For a good while now, I’ve been blogging on the ABCs of fiction writing:  Attitude, Business, and Craft. On Mondays, I have been blogging about the attitude a fiction writer needs to succeed. On Wednesdays, I’ve been discussing the business aspect of fiction writing, and on Fridays, I’ve been posting on the craft of writing fiction.

I am considering streamlining my focus to only the craft of writing fiction. Before I do this, however, I would like to ask you, my faithful readers, if you think you would glean more from a craft focus or if you would like to see me continue the ABC approach.

Please let me hear from you. I write this blog to serve you and the Christian fiction writing community. Your input would be greatly appreciated.

Thank you!

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Copyright 2013 by MaryAnn Diorio, PhD. All Rights Reserved.

(Attitude) Dealing with Overwhelm

The 21st century with all of its technological discoveries has engendered a new disorder called Overwhelm. Grammatically speaking, “overwhelm” is a verb, not a noun.  But the case is strong for making it a noun as well.

If overwhelm were a noun, I would define it as an excessive amount of emotional and psychological input creating the feeling that one is being buried under it. (I welcome your definition.)

With that definition in mind, how can we deal with overwhelm?  Here are a few tips that have helped me:

1) Spend time with God every day seeking His will and direction for your life. Years ago, when I was struggling with overwhelm, our Lord said this to me: “You always have enough time to do what I have called you to do.”  Our Lord’s words made me realize that I was involved in some good activities that He had not called me to be involved in.  So, if you have too much on your plate, you are doing some things that God does not want you to do. Eliminate them.

2) Streamline your environment. Get rid of everything that is contributing to your overwhelm. Recently, I cleared out hundreds of books from my library, books that I will never read again and that will provide benefit to others. Not only did I clear out my house, but I also cleared out my mind.

3) Take time to regroup each day. Sometimes we experience overwhelm simply because we do not take the time to nurture ourselves. Women are especially guilty of this. So give yourself the gift of ten minutes a day just for you to do something you love to do.

Remember that you can control overwhelm. By following the three simple steps above, you will find yourself breathing freely again.
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Copyright 2013 by Dr. MaryAnn Diorio. All Rights Reserved.