Saturday, July 24, 2010

Story Beginnings

by Lucienne Diver

Everyone knows that a good opening can make or break a submission. With busy agents and editors getting literally hundreds of submissions a week, you want to be sure to grab their attention right away and never surrender it. I hear far too often in pitches, “but the story really starts….” In the famous words of Lewis Carroll, “Begin at the beginning and go on until you come to the end, then stop.” It seems so obvious, and yet, beginnings are not always so easy to identify. Do you start with murder or motive? Action or voice? Scene-setting or dialogue?

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

What 'Art of War' Can Teach Us About Plot and Characterization

by Brandy Dolce

It's the motivator by which Sun Tzu’s "Art of War" remains a permanent fixture on my desk. I've employed his basic principles throughout my journalism career - in my news stories, advice column and magazine articles, as well as in the manipulation of certain repugnant individuals. And I continue to use them as I work toward the completion of my first YA manuscript.

Why? Because Sun Tzu was a master deceiver, a manipulator of pawns. He played on his enemies' weaknesses, surprised them when they thought they couldn’t be misled, and offered them what they wanted only to snatch it away and entrap them. "Art of War" is a veritable gold mine for those, like myself, working to structure an exciting plot line. How? Because plot, like warfare, is the Tao of deception! Below are some of Sun Tzu's battle principles as they pertain to the art of storytelling.

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Creating Character Emotion

by Pepper Basham

Good mornin’ all.

Pepper here, and I’m currently going through a great DVD series by famous scriptwriter and speaker, Michael Hauge. It’s called The Hero’s Two Journeys and is filled with fantastic info I want to share with you guys.

First of all, I’d like to ask you a question. 
Why do you read fiction? I mean, really. Bare bones answer.

If you’re really honest, one of the reasons you and I read fiction is to experience adventures we don’t experience in the everyday. To become emotionally involved in a story. To escape into someone else’s journey.

Monday, July 19, 2010

Story-Starters: Ten Ways to Jump-Start Your Plot

by Anne Marble

Coming up with new story ideas is important to any fiction writer. Many writers no shortage of ideas for stories -- their problem is coping with having too many ideas. If you're like most writers, you probably have notebooks or computer files swarming with ideas. Yet sometimes, you reach that point where none of the stories in those swarms are right for you. Here are ten steps to help you generate new story ideas. Even if you don't wind up writing stories this way, you will still have fun!

Saturday, July 17, 2010

How to Write the End of Your Novel

by C. Patrick Schulze
When I finished my first manuscript, low those many years ago, I hit the enter key a few times, center aligned my text and typed, “The End.” The problem? I’d completed my NOVEL but not my story. I had yet to learn how to write the ending to a novel, and didn’t realize it doesn’t matter how your novel ends as much as where it ends.
Yes, to finish a novel is one trick, but to end your story is quite another. There are certain aspects to the ending of your novel that should be taken into account before you stop writing. For example, have you used one of the four unacceptable endings?

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Stephen King Says: Everything You Need to Know About Writing Successfully in 10 Minutes

Written by Stephen King

I. The First Introduction

THAT'S RIGHT. I know it sounds like an ad for some sleazy writers' school, but I really am going to tell you everything you need to pursue a successful and financially rewarding career writing fiction, and I really am going to do it in ten minutes, which is exactly how long it took me to learn.

It will actually take you twenty minutes or so to read this essay, however, because I have to tell you a story, and then I have to write a second introduction. But these, I argue, should not count in the ten minutes.

K.M. Weiland: Why You Need a Premise Sentence

All stories begin with a premise (a battle in space, two people falling in love, a dog getting lost). But, often, our original conceptions are hazy and unformed. Sometimes, they’re not even a premise, so much as the what-if question that will lead to a premise. What if a little boy’s brain grew too quickly for his body to keep up? (Ender’s Shadow by Orson Scott Card.) What if an orphan boy was given a fortune by an unknown benefactor? (Great Expectations by Charles Dickens.) What if an assassin was hired to kill himself? (My own Behold the Dawn.)

What-if questions are hugely powerful. But if we don’t refine them into full-blown premise sentences, we’re not taking full advantage of them.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Plot: The Hero's Journey

Thanks to C. Patrick Schulz and his great blog for shining a light for those of us still stumbling along in the dark. I reposted an excerpt of one his recent posts below because it's very helpful to me in outlining my plot and guiding my characters. Oh, who am I kidding; they guide me.
In any case, The Hero's Journey portion of his latest post is wonderful. Read his fantastic blog here
The Hero’s Journey has twelve situations your hero must face. This generates a plot and forces a story to pop out as if by osmosis. The novel is much more difficult, but the story, well, that’s easy. Here are the twelve steps to the Hero’s Journey.