Plotting?! Woah! What’s That?!

I have to say, I love coming up with these strange and funny titles for my blog posts. Definitely one of my favorite things about posting….anyway, as the title suggests, I’m going to talk to you about plotting today. I’m going to be honest; plotting is not my strong suit. I love the idea of writing something without knowing where you’re going. I do that with poems all the time and I try to do it with prose as well. The problem is, when you’re working on a larger work such as a novel, this gets to be really hard towards the second quarter of the manuscript.  You start realizing at that point that every time you sit down to write, it’s becoming more and more tedious. This kills your motivation.

Thanks to a brilliant horror writer named Dan Wells, I feel that I have the tools necessary to become a plotter. Dan was really struggling with the endings to his stories, and found that he was often re-writing them several times over before he was satisfied at all. When he discovered this secret in a Star Trek Role Playing guide, he realized that it was completely applicable to all kinds of stories, and started using it to help him pen those elusive endings while creating stronger stories at the same time.

I’m hoping to use this seven-point system to keep me on track with my NaNoNovel and if it works well, I might just start using it for most of my projects. Below I will attempt to summarize the elements and the ideas behind them very briefly, for those who don’t want to look beyond my blog; but I encourage you to check out either the Writing Excuses podcast, where I first introduced to this, or better yet, look at the you-tube postings of Dan’s workshop, where he explains this system in a very full manner. Of course you could also do both…or all three, rather…. Okay, enough rambling, here it is.

Hook

This is where you first introduce the readers to the main character. It usually shows him/her in a very opposite state from where they are in the Resolution. For example, if they are a strong hero who defeats a powerful villain in the Resolution, they would start out being a very weak person.

Plot Turn I

The first Plot Turn is the “call to adventure”. It’s the thing that happens to turn the main character’s world on its head and throw everything off. This is what kicks off the story.

Pinch I

The first Pinch serves the purpose of challenging the main character. They are put into a situation where they must use their skills in order to get out of it. Maybe they fall into a trap. Maybe their friends are incarcerated, leaving them to fight someone by themselves. It could be anything, but it must challenge them.

Midpoint

As Dan points out, this is where the main character goes from reaction to action. Instead of sitting idly by while chaos happens around them, they decide to do something about it. They decide to take matters into their own hands.

Pinch II

The second Pinch is similar to the first one, but the consequences are greater. The second Pinch is more dramatic and holds greater threats.

Plot Turn II

The second Plot Turn is very characteristic of what one would think of as a “turn”. It actually turns the plot around quite literally. The second Plot Turn is usually the moment in which the main character understands what he needs to do/acquires the tools to do so.

Resolution

This is the actual “doing” part. The Resolution brings about the climax of the story and usually shows the main character in a very opposite state from where he/she was in the beginning.

 

This is just a tiny explanation of the system. Below are the links to the Writing Excuses podcast, and the comprehensive 5-part video, in which Dan goes into a full explanation of everything, laden with excellent examples.

I really want to thank Dan Wells for indirectly helping me with this through the inter-webs, and I’d also like to thank Steven Long, Christian Moore, Kenneth Hite, and Owen Seyler for their awesome book that brought Dan into using this system and there-by, introduced me to it 🙂

The Book

Writing Excuses

Dan Wells’ Lecture on You Tube

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I Have A New Brother!

Tristan, who is a special needs kid that we’ve been taking care of for quite some time, was officially adopted today! 🙂 We love him a lot, so it was a natural next step, as the only alternative would have been putting him up for adoption to the general public, which we didn’t like the idea of at all.

The adoption hearing was just earlier today and we’ve been celebrating, so not much writing has been going on today; however, tomorrow will be another early wake up and I’ll have many hours to sit down and get some done.

Well, I”m off for more celebration, sorry for the short post

Color Run and NaNo Go Go! :)

Sorry for the absence of posts, guys, been kinda busy. Did the Des Moines, IA 2012 Color Run on Saturday. That was a huge blast! I joggled with my friend, Doug Sayers and got covered in colored powder. Then we juggled at the finish and celebrated in the big mosh of people and had all sorts of fun! I recommend it for sure.

Anyway, in other news, I have decided to officially take part in this year’s NaNoWriMo! Wish me luck! 2,000 words a day is going to be a big challenge for me since I usually write small bursts at a time. I’m starting to brainstorm ideas as of a few days ago, and I’m going to try to get a good outline before I start, which is another challenge for me 😉

I will also be getting a short story or two ready soon to start submitting to literary journals, so wish me luck in that as well! Lots of fun things happening soon; I’m excited 🙂

Well, I’m off to juggling club, see y’all later!

Color Run and stuff…

Don’t have much to talk about in the way of writing today. I did have a good writing session at Starbucks this morning, but I don’t have much to say about it, I guess. Tomorrow I’m going to be doing a color run….never done one before. Not sure what it’s about…I’ll be going through the streets while people shoot colored powder stuff at me. Yay. Since I’m an unusual person, I’m also going to juggle five balls whilst enjoying the colorful explosions on my body. 🙂

After that, writing will be in store for the day’s plans, I’m sure. Not exactly sure what else is going on tomorrow, but all in all, it should be a fun day. Feeling in a short story mood, so more of that kind of stuff will make it’s way on the blog over the next week or so. Look out for it! See ya later!

NaNoWriMo? More like ScaRyAsHell

NaNoWriMo is around the corner. For those of you who don’t know, it’s National Novel Writing Month and it happens in November every year. The idea behind it is to register on the site and start writing on November 1st, in an attempt to finish a novel of at least 50,000 words by the end of November 30th. While I’ve never participated and am fairly new to it, I am considering doing it this year. I’m already committed to a project currently that is not very close at all to first draft completion, but I’m considering giving it a go and just trying to keep up with my current work as much as I can.

If I do it, it will be hard for sure. 50,000 words by the end of the month means a minimum of around 1,700 words a day, which isn’t too hard, but it’s intimidating. Normally when I write, I don’t feel pressure to hit a deadline. I’m not a published author, so deadlines are not something I’ve ever had to deal with. A definite plus to participating, would be introducing myself to this concept and forcing myself to deal with it; however, I am terrified of taking too much attention and time off of my current project, which could lead to abandonment.

So why don’t I just use NaNo to work on my current project? Well, one of the few rules to NaNo, is that you must start a fresh project. You can have outlines and plot notes all you want, but you can’t have started writing a draft before it starts. The prospect of participating is extremely exciting but at the same time frightening.

I would very much appreciate anyone’s input. If you have thoughts on whether or not I should participate, or words of encouragement, please comment below. Thanks! And see you guys next time!

In John’s Hands

His long, slender fingers gripped the blade tightly. One small movement was all that would be required to cause an unrelenting and fatal outpouring of blood. It was with this idea that John was concerned with; obsessed with, even.

It was in his control to prevent such a movement, but could he be trusted? Could his mind be up for the task? His breath came in unsteady and uncontrolled rhythms, spasms. In his chest, his heart beat faster and faster, like a drum roll that would lead to a terrible and gruesome finale.

He gripped the blade tighter and forced his blurry eyes to focus. His thoughts went to the other day, when he had first met the guy that now lay before him. Kevin was a man with a family that he loved deeply; a man who had worked his whole life, only to meet a terrible fate, of which John was now in control of.

As he stood over Kevin, on the brink of insanity, John had a realization. This was not a situation in which he had to think. If he so desired, he could dismiss the notion that Kevin had a family at all. No, Kevin was not a loving man who so desperately clung to life. Kevin was just a body; a piece of flesh for John to get his practice.

It was with this fresh and renewing thought that John proceeded. He lowered his hand with control and precision and made a long slice down the middle, from chest to abdomen. The blade parted the skin effortlessly and John saved a life that night.