Showing posts with label plotting your novel. Show all posts
Showing posts with label plotting your novel. Show all posts

Tips from Lisa Cron's Book, Story Genius

Forty-three note cards for forty-three chapters completed the template from Cron's book
As SCBWI meetings, critique group sessions, and so much more offered by our local New Mexico chapter go, the subjects at two recent meetings couldn’t have been more helpful. This month’s post offers highlights from a meeting that presented and discussed Lisa Cron’s book, Story Genius: How to Use Brain Science to Go Beyond Outlining and Write a Riveting Novel, Before You Waste Three Years Writing 327 Pages That Go Nowhere. Have you been there? This author must confess that I have, in spades. Next month, watch for highlights from a workshop on Author Visits, presented by Caroline Starr Rose, author of  May B., Blue Birds, Jasper and the Riddle of Riley’s Mine, Ride On, Will Cody! and more.

The Third Rail
Cron begins in the Introduction, by explaining what it takes for a ms to succeed and why so many fail.

“The reason that the majority of ms’s are rejected—either by publishers or readers—is because they do not have a third rail . . . And so they write and rewrite and polish an impressive stack of pages in which a bunch of things happen, but none of it really matters because that’s all it is—a bunch of external things that the reader has no particular reason to care about.

Story is about an internal struggle, not an external one. It’s about what the protagonist has to learn, to overcome, to deal with internally in order to solve the problem that the external plot poses.”

The Third Rail drives your story, and the presenters at the meeting stressed, can save you lots of drafts. Some major Third Rail points:
  • The point of your book comes from the protagonist’s struggle—why it matters to him/her.
  • The protagonist pursues a difficult goal—how does this pursuit change her internally? What’s the point? Your book must come from this.
  • Each scene has to hit the third rail.
  • Nail your point—what do you want the reader to walk away with?

Two Weeks Well Spent
My WIP, a MG mystery and my first book, has been held up due to editing and revisions I've continued to make for over a year after I thought it was “ready.” This is after the ms had been reviewed by three professional editors, in various stages (I had a lot to learn). In past posts, I’ve emphasized making sure your ms is “ready” before submitting, and one way to make sure is to have a professional editor review it. So, when I made the acceptable changes suggested by my editors, the ms should have been ready. I had to go with my gut, though. I knew it wasn’t.

Fast forward to a year later—to NOW. When I went to the SCBWI meeting, I had planned to submit my ms that week. But after hearing what the presenters had to say about Cron’s book and taking a peek at my ms, I knew I had more work to do. It took two weeks.

My two-week revision started by using a handout provided by the presenters taken from the Story Genius book, "Plotting: Scene Card Template: What is the Point?" I made a copy of the template and stapled it onto a card, as it appears here:



On 3x5 cards, I made a note in each section of the template from each chapter, using the template as a guide. Conclusion? The story didn’t change, but my mc’s inner struggle strengthened, which made the story richer, explained the plot better, and helped clarify vague parts.


Worth the Time and Effort
Story Genius offers much more than could be covered in this post. I plan to use the ideas offered to begin writing Book Two in my MG mystery series and believe it will save months of edits and revisions. I recommend this book as an important addition to your bookshelf.

My writing buddies, Sweet Pea & Peanut
Linda Wilson, a former elementary teacher and ICL graduate, has published over 100 articles for adults and children, and six short stories for children. Recently, she has completed her first book, a mystery/ghost story for children 7-11 years old, and is hard at work on Book Two in the series.  Follow Linda at www.lindawilsonauthor.com.

Scrivener - The Novelist's Friend

A few years ago I was introduced to a 'New' program. By then I had several novels under my belt, one had been written by hand, another in Word Perfect, a few in Word. When someone suggested Scrivener, I wasn't necessarily sure what I thought. 

For one thing, there is a learning curve. Did I really want to begin to learn a new program 'just' to write my next novel? Would the learning curve eventually pay off in rewards that I currently didn't understand? Well, the simple answer is, yes.

Reasons to consider Scrivener:

1. Plotting
    • Plotting with Scrivener is a dream! There is no other way to say it. Notecards can be written in the program and then that information is transferred to the area where text is written. This allows me to plot several chapters and then easily take the notes with me into the text writing area and write while viewing my notes.

2. Organizing
    • I tend to write from several character's perspectives. Scrivener helps me to color coordinate which character I'm writing from and allows me at a glance to see where I should go next, or if I'm spending too much time in one character's head.
    • I am also one who likes to research and gather information for my novels. This information I used to find and print and keep in folders - lots and lots of folders. Scrivener allows me to utilize a section of the program to keep all those files and all that information and then lets me write and view the research at the same time - meaning I'm not having to flip from screen to screen to get information and check to make sure I'm getting it right, and I don't have to be connected to the internet to access files, or drag them with me when traveling.

3. Goals
    • Perhaps one of my favorite things is setting up my goals. Why? I'm a goal oriented person and having a bell let me know that I've reached my goal of word count brings me great pleasure. It also keeps me focused on the end goal of total word count for my novels. 
4. Bonus Help
    • Name Generator: I always have difficulties with this and so having a name generator is a bit of fun
    • Word Use: Also an issue I have. I come up with a great word and then I use it and use it and use it. Scrivener will call me on it. The program lets me me know how often I use words, which is great for finding weak verbs, but also great for finding the unusual word used several times as well.
    • Multiple formats: Want to write a comic book, the format is there. How about a play? Yep, it's covered too. 
So, while I realize for you it might also mean a learning curve, I recommend giving it a try. 
________________________________________________

D. Jean Quarles is a writer of Women's Fiction and co-author of a Young Adult Science Fiction Series. Her latest book, Solem was released February 2016.


D. Jean loves to tell stories of personal growth – where success has nothing to do with money or fame, but of living life to the fullest. She is also the author of the novels: Rocky's Mountains, Fire in the Hole, and Perception, and the co-author of The Exodus Series: The Water Planet: Book 1 and House of Glass: Book 2. The Mermaid, an award winning short story was published in the anthology, Tales from a Sweltering City.                                                                                             

She is a wife, mother, grandmother and business coach. In her free time . . . ha! ha! ha! Anyway, you can find more about D. Jean Quarles, her writing and her books at her website at www.djeanquarles.com                                      

You can also follower her on Facebook.










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