#WriterinMotion: Outlines and other pre-drafting thoughts

Outlining

Last year, as I was reading a couple books to help me finally get a handle on how to use all the bells and whistles of Scrivener, I set up a template with the Save the Cat beats as my chapter sections and created an idea section that includes all of the different plots and outlines I like to use. So I’m going to use my template (for the first time) and outline directly in Scrivener. Here’s a screenshot of my template:

Scrivener template

I started filling in an outline, but then I wanted to type in some of the opening image of the women at the doorstep and a snippet of  what my character mentioned yesterday, and now I have a draft, so this post won’t get finished at the moment because now I have the crazy dilemma of too interesting of a story and now I’ll have to spend a month making it smaller instead of bigger. But that’s okay. I love this idea and my characters, so this project may only be the beginning of something bigger.

 

 

#WriterinMotion – Playing with some plots

There are many different ways to approach plotting and I have studied and tried a bunch. Most plots, and thus outlines, follow a form of Three Act Structure and I have found that this is true for short form as well as long form.

I’ll start with The Hero’s Journey. Using ideas from Arwen Lynch’s book Mapping the Hero’s Journey With Tarot: 33 Days To Finish Your Book, I’m going to continue plotting with tarot to see what fresh ideas come to mind.

Hero's Journey

The Hero’s Journey

  1. The Ordinary World:Three of Coins
  2. Call to adventure:Five of Coins
  3. Refusal of the call:The Moon
  4. Meeting the mentor:Ten of Swords
  5. Crossing the Threshold:Judgement
  6. Test, Allies & Enemies: Four of Wands
  7. Approach the Inmost Cave:The Hermit
  8. The Ordeal:Five of Wands
  9. Reward: Nine of Wands
  10. Road Back:Ten of Coins
  11. Resurrection:King of Cups
  12. Return with Elixer:The Fool

My interpretation: My MC (main character) is finally seeing some reward for his gritty determination. He has been through really hard times and feels the extra pressure of trying to raise a child alone now that he’s lost his job and his wife took the house. But he’s making the best the small house and property he inherited from his grandfather and his child is happy and healthy, so he finally feels that there’s hope until he gets in a spat with an herbalist who trespasses on his land which leads to child protective services at his door.

The judgement he sees in her eyes in the last straw. Shattered, he feels he’s come to the end of the road, but when he thinks further about the meeting, he has clearer judgement and can see the positive decisions he has made for himself and his son. He sees what is wrong with how they see him, that their judgements are biased. He prepares for the next visit feeling he has the power to liberate himself from the situation. He feels that the time alone, away from society and social norms is very important as he reflects on his life journey so far. When the women return, his hope is shattered again by proposed unsettling changes, and opposition. Top-heavy egos lead to a lack of coordination and team spirit, but plenty of adrenaline and racing pulses. Everyone has their own idea of how things should be done.

After the meeting goes badly, my MC expects trouble on the horizon, his biggest fear: separation from his son, so he debates his next moves, trying to be honest with himself about what is best for his child. He doesn’t want his son to ever be hurt like he has been hurt, he doesn’t want him to feel abandoned, but he doesn’t want him to feel hunger, or thirst, or cold, or have limited opportunities due to his own selfishness. My MC doesn’t want to face his fear, but he feels weary of a constant cycle of conflict in his life. While he awaits next steps with social services, he works the land. He wants to have a sustainable garden, to provide enough food. While working, he rests under the green ash and notices a carving in the bark that leads to a remarkable discovery. Though he no longer has to stay at the property, he and his son decide to stay, happy to be different and unique. He finds compassion and kindness deep inside himself and hires the herbalist, the person whose snap judgement started this trouble to help him create a beautiful garden of his land.

A New Plot!!

This Morning, I stumbled on a new (to me) plotting approach “The Virgin’s Promise.” Unlike the Hero’s Journey in which the main character leaves the comfort of home to learn and change, the main character of the Virgin’s Promise goes on an internal journey of discovery, finding her authentic self, breaking with tradition and sharing a new way of thinking. Let’s see what the cards have to say about my story as a Virgin’s Promise. My understanding of this plot form is from diyMFA.

The original work to research the structure can be found in Kate Hudson’s book The Virgin’s Promise: Writing Stories of Feminine Creative, Spiritual and Sexual Awakening

Virgin's path with Levi

  1. Dependent World:  Six of Coins
  2. Price of Conformity: Two of Swords
  3. Opportunity to Shine: Queen of Swords
  4. Dresses the Part: The Tower
  5. Secret World: The Magician
  6. No Longer Fits Her World: The Fool
  7. Caught Shining: The Hermit
  8. Gives Up What Kept Her stuck: Ace of Pentacles
  9. Kingdom in Chaos: Eight of Swords
  10. Wanders in the Wilderness: The Moon
  11. Chooses Her Light: Three of Wands
  12. Re-order (Rescue): Temperance
  13. Kingdom is Brighter: Five of Swords

My interpretation: After a very tough time my MC is offered a lifeline. He knows that there are expectations for his son’s living situation and is doing his best. He finds that being honest with his son is proving him a good parent. He also discovers that he is good at living off the land, and building/carpentry, things he never expected and that nature provides a learning experience for his son. My MC begins to let go of all the hurt and anger of his hateful divorce and see the potential of what he has been given.

But then there’s a knock at the door and the trespasser from last week is there with another woman, a woman who is there to check on his son’s welfare and he is shaken to the core. This sudden wake-up call of the world he feels happy in versus expectations of society leaves him confused and worried about whether this really is best for his son. Everything suddenly feels immediate when before he felt like he had time to figure things out. He knows he has everything he needs to succeed, but how will he showcase those talents under CPS guidelines?

The judgement of the people who arrived at his door makes him doubt himself and whether he is doing the best he can for his son.  He finds a way to invest in the future that he never would have done before, giving up a belief that kept him stuck. He refuses to go along with the social worker and herbalist’s wants and demands escalating the conflict with “the system,” leading to threats of removing his son from the home. After bucking the system, he feels unsure. He starts wondering if he and his son should run, but where would they go. He feels his greatest fear, their separation, but he knows he has to face it.

Once he decides that he has made the right decisions for his son and will continue to work his land and create a home, he builds momentum and feels self-confidence and enthusiasm though he risks separation and failure. When the herbalist sneaks back on the property, she is shocked by the change. She completely changes her mind about the father and son living there and brings the community to his side, working to take back the damage she has done. My MC wins his battle with CPS and with the help of the herbalist, the social worker and other neighbors creates a lively, nurturing environment for his son.

Notes:

That was fun. I’m glad I found the Virgin’s Promise. I found it interesting that even though I shuffled and cut the cards three times before and after the first layout, some of the same cards and some of the cards from the celtic cross from the other day came up in the second. Though the over-all ideas stayed mostly the same, the conflict started later in the Virgin’s Promise and the ending completely changed. It’ll be interesting to see how the story plays out once the characters start interacting. Plus, it gives me another way to go if the ending needs to change during revision.

Other fun plotting tools:

Even though my plot is pretty clear, I did a few of these just for fun.

The plot-o-matic inspired by John Dufresne’s Is Life Like This?

  • A florist, who wants to be a hermit, irons clothes at 2 am.
  • A tollbooth attendant, who wants to make a discovery, saves someone’s life then dies in a freak accident. (That was the first time I drew more than one card from a stack. I liked the result, so I tried it some more)
  • An exterminator and a butterfly collector want to be in the news. They go to a medium then fin baby bunnies in a nest and meet a woman who wants to die.
  • A conspiracy junky sasquatch hunter, who wants to be happy again, pretends to be blind.

Rory’s story cubes

  • A left-handed drama teacher tries to fix the set of a castle using a flashlight because the power went out. S/he disturbs a sleeping bee that doesn’t die after stinging and then seems magnetically attached and won’t leave him/her alone.
  • A child with a monster shadow sees shadow footprints that s/he follows to a small house. S/he finds a phone number written on the wall inside and calls it. The CEO of a huge company answers and after speaking with the child parachutes to the house in the moonlight and has a key to free the child from the shadow monster.
  • A detective meets an alien in the forest at 4 am. The alien apologizes for accidentally crashing a plane which solves the detective’s case, but that causes drama for the detective because s/he can’t tell anyone. The detective is so conflicted that the alien locks his/her mind with magic.

The Writer’s Emergency Pack
Both cards I randomly drew were “Zombie attack (there are two cards that go with each prompt),” so I’ll think on that. Is doesn’t have to be literal zombies. The prompt question is: What would my hero do if confronted by a mindless, unstoppable horde? He may see the women who come to his door as just that since they represent a government agency and the larger community. The other prompts are:

  • Does the horde have a leader? Will my hero try to confront, take over as leader?
  • What does the horde want? If they get it will they go away or grow stronger and refuse to leave?

These are good questions to ask Eugene as I journal today.

Oblique Strategies  (the cards created by Brian Eno)

  • Listen to the quiet voices
  • Turn it upside down
  • Remove specifics and convert to ambiguities
  • Question the heroic approach

I love that last one. Serendipity of finding The Virgin’s Promise.

Each of the plots I came up with today were in a mostly linear order of events. I’ll want to play around with the plot points and think about non-linear story possibilities. Next, I’ll use everything I’ve done so far to fill in some quick outlines, then start the draft.

Approach to the moment of truth on #NaNoWriMo 2019 Day 19

abandoned in the rain

Image prompt: I imagined my main character revisiting the abandoned property on a rainy day, so I spent a little time taking pictures in the rain.

I like the title from Day 19 2017: Approach to the moment of truth. I’m feeling this on many levels. This week is going to be tough. I’ve already lost my momentum and I’m going to be completely distracted by the impeachment hearings, so I’m going to need to try some new things. I’ve cued up a Virtual Write-In for the break in the hearing. Virtual Write-ins have helped my word count in the past.

But it may also be that these prompts aren’t working for me every day. It was a good experiment and worked pretty well in the beginning, but this week I may need other inspiration. So if you don’t see these posts from me this week, I will hopefully find other inspiration to share.

#vss365: bust

He remembered small plastic busts of famous composers on the piano. Mama would play with them and arrange them. They became a clue into her mood. Kirk learned the connection and often consulted them as augurs.

Today’s Simple Task

MC micro-focused on today: What can s/he do in this moment? It’s time for arain in the bushes new and better plan.

→ This is a good exercise for me today. My MC is always hyper-observant and really exploring that will help develop his relationship with his environment. I also need to explore his plan before he left home and how it changes over time.

Warm-up Exercise

Set your timer for 5 minutes. Brainstorm all of your MC’s traits. Sort them into strengths and weaknesses.

Choose the trait you see as the main weakness. Set your timer for 5 minutes again and Cluster or Mind Map around that word.

Set your timer for another 5 minutes. Write a scene where this weakness becomes a strength.

→ This is a good exercise. Actually writing down traits and whether they are strengths or weaknesses and how, in certain situations, they can switch, helps add depth to the character and guide how he will act in unexpected situations. Doing this exercise helped me connect some of my MC’s backstory to his current perceptions and actions.

Word Of The Day

augur: v. to give promise of something to come later

I looked up this word again and am not quite sure why I chose the definition I did in 2017. Augur has all sorts of interesting definitions as both a noun and a verb (from dictionary.com):

noun

one of a group of ancient Roman officials charged with observing and interpreting omens for guidance in public affairs.
soothsayer; prophet.

verb (used with object)

to divine or predict, as from omens; prognosticate.
to serve as an omen or promise of; foreshadow; betoken: Mounting sales augur a profitable year.

verb (used without object)

to conjecture from signs or omens; predict.
to be a sign; bode: The movement of troops augurs ill for the peace of the area.

verb (used without object)

to argue, talk, or converse.

noun

an excessively talkative person.

British dictionary definitions

noun

Also called: auspex (in ancient Rome) a religious official who observed and interpreted omens and signs to help guide the making of public decisions
any prophet or soothsayer

verb

to predict (some future event), as from signs or omens
(tr; may take a clause as object) to be an omen (of); presage
(intr) to foreshadow future events to be as specified; bode this augurs well for us

My sentences using augur:

It was possible that the break-in was an attempted robbery, but the missing picture augured more personal attacks.

He felt the runny yolks augured coming disappointments.

He hadn’t imagined her as an augur during the first time they met, but this morning she wouldn’t let him get a word in. Maybe she had had too much coffee.

They augured in a style that implied an inside joke. It made him uncomfortable.

8 Action Verbs:

He felt like the appointed translator. He wished Oren would snap out of it, talk like a normal person, but that was impatience. He would have to slow down to make this work.

When in the tree house, they had collaborated on many stories. Kirk needed to remember them now, but he felt like that part of his memory was locked.

Everything felt decided without him. These were his decisions. Who was pulling the strings?

He exhibited signs of anxiety. Kirk wished he knew how to calm him. What had he done when they were young. Stories, Oren needed to tell a story. Kirk needed to listen.

Oren inspected the page. Kirk thought maybe he was getting through, making a connection. Oren ate it.

Kirk negotiated a sit down by bringing the dog a bone. Oren sat with him and they both watched the dog gnaw on it. It was a start.

The drawings represented his reality. Kirk had to adapt his perception. He needed to learn the rules of how Oren translated three dimensions to two. Each of the symbols was drawn over. Each symbol had more than one meaning.

It often felt like she wasn’t supervised. Kirk wondered if the sheriff was paying attention to his case at all.

Awesome Sentence Challenge

Connotations: I love this quote from Barbara Baig in Spellbinding Sentences: A Writer’s Guide to Achieving Excellence and Captivating Readers

If you imagine that putting a word into the mind of your reader is like casting a stone in a pond, then the denotation is the splash the stone makes as it hits the water, while the connotations of the word are like the ripples that follow the splash.

We did the first connotations exercise on Day 6, but exploiting the connotations of words to create ripples of meaning in the mind takes practice and skill, so lets do another one. Read your favorite author paying attention to words chosen for positive and negative connotations. Collect these words in a notebook and practice using them in your own writing.

Since today is full of impeachment hearings, I thought I would collect words from what I hear today and use the political partisanship as an exercise in the connotations and denotation of these words.

Collected words: hope, stakes, assistance, linkage, alarmed, investigations, inappropriate, sharp, rejected, credible, competent, professional, accusations, power, sometimes, full-throated, parallel process, relay, correct, accurate, separate process, understanding, receive-mode

I could do this all day and probably should, but receive-mode felt like a great ending. You can imagine how I’ll be playing with these words, their connotations and denotation.

 

raindrops

Happy Reading and Writing!

The Midpoint #NaNoWriMo 2019 Day 15

inmost-cave

Truth is I’m not into this today

I set my alarm for 6 am so I could watch Marie Yovanovitch’s testimony and to be honest, I don’t give a crap about writing fiction today. I have tried to keep this site a-political, but I cried on Wednesday when Ambassador Taylor talked about being on the front lines, knowing the aid was being withheld and being thanked for assistance and then today, I cried when Ms. Yovanovitch thanked for the question, but refused to talk about how it affected her family.

I was a Washington State senate page in high school. I thought I was going to be a leader and believed I could be president if I wanted to. I learned too much about process and politics in a very short time, but still believed things could change. I was a Peace Corps Volunteer in West Africa– I had that green passport. They made me swear that oath.– and almost died there. I cannot stand the idiocy of the Republicans on display. I feel sorry for everyone that believed traditions and norms could withstand one bad TV president (including me because I had faith in the Republican Senators to respect their oaths to the Constitution at least!).  It took me all day to come up with my very short story and that’s the best I’m gonna do. Have a great weekend. I’ll see you on Monday.

#vss365: pound

This time, she #pounded her water, wiped her lips, crumpled the plastic bottle, tossed it across her body, and hit the trash can in the corner without ever shifting her gaze from his. Last time, she was intimidating. This time, he was scared.

Today’s Simple Task

Imagery: The most shocking or devastating thing that could happen to a symbol, icon, or thing.

I was thinking yesterday about what would happen if Oren’s journal was destroyed. I still need to discover my protagonist’s symbols so that I can explore what the most shocking or devastating thing that could happen to that symbol. I’m going to journal about this and I think I’d like to do some arts and crafts/ painting and drawing around these symbol ideas to see what comes through. Especially since Oren communicates symbolically.

Warm-up Exercise

Have your protagonist write his or her will or manifesto.

This has come up before and I still haven’t done it, so looking at what Kirk values that he would put in a will would be a good exercise. Also, having him write a manifesto about his views of the world and his beliefs might also be a good exercise. However, I don’t think these exercises will help with today’s scenes, so I may save this one for another time.

Word Of The Day

opprobrium: n.  1. something that brings disgrace or reproach; 2. public disgrace from conduct considered outrageous or shameful.

8 Action Verbs:

answered

classified

corresponded

evaluated

incorporated

modified

reduced

stimulated

Awesome Sentence Challenge

From The Longman Handbook for Writers and Readers (6th Edition) by Chris M. Anson.

Avoid unnecessary Nominalizations: When you create a noun from some other kind of word. Example: the verb complete becomes the noun completion, or the adjective happy becomes the noun happiness.

As you write, pay special attention to nominalizations that:

  • Draw readers’ attention away from a sentence’s proper focus
  • Lead to vague sentence subjects or objects
  • Cause you to leave important information out of a sentence

Examples: Using the action verbs above I made the nominalizations: classification, correspondence, evaluation, incorporation, modification, reduction, stimulation. Now I need to come up with when these would be “unnecessary nominalizations” to avoid.

I went back to The Longman Handbook and found some examples:

Vague: Dissatisfaction among employees often leads to shoddiness in products. (nominations: dissatisfaction and shoddiness)

Revised: Dissatisfied employees often make shoddy products.

Those were nominalizations of adjectives. Here’s an example with verbs:

The committee held a discussion of the new regulations for airplane safety. A limitation on flammable seat materials ow is necessary.

Revised: The committee discussed the new regulations for airplane safety. Airlines now must limit flammable seat materials.

So let’s try it:

She created a classification system for an evaluation of the evidence. This modification produced a reduction of necessary labor and a stimulation of connections.

Revised: She classified and evaluated the evidence. Her method reduced labor hours and stimulated connections.

Mapping the Hero’s Journey:

Approach To The Inmost Cave (The emotion your MC feels as he has to traverse this last corridor to the cave): Eight of swords

Leap of faith your MC must take: Two of wands

Old angst that MC revisits: Four of cups

Already almost halfway through: #NaNoWriMo Day 14

useful things

I can’t believe we’re already almost halfway through. I hope you’re NaNoWriMo writing is going great! If you have any questions about any of these prompts or my writing process, please let me know in the comments. It would be nice to hear what kinds of prompts and exercises you use to keep your ideas flowing. What is your writing process (during NaNoWriMo or anytime)?

Day 14 (2017)

My MC is about to face the inmost cave. What about himself is he afraid to face? What and who will make him face it?

Today, I wandered about exploring some new things. The #vss365 word led to an entire exciting scene. The Amazing Sentence Challenge led me to explore Parallels in fiction which led me to explore Coincidence in fiction. So today is an exploring and filling the well of creativity kind of day today. Recognizing that this is also an important part of my writing process, I’m going to hurry up and finish my words for NaNoWriMo today and see where the whimsy of today takes me.

#vss365: drill

The long drill bit burst through the wall spraying drywall dust over the pillows and bedspread. If he hadn’t run to the door, thinking the creep from last night was trying to get in by taking the door off its hinges, it could have gone through the back of his head.

 

Today’s Simple Task

Your MC feels self-doubt and abandons his/her main objective for a lesser goal. S/he explores some regrets.

→ When I left my MC yesterday, he needed to go shopping because exploring the property had ruined both pairs of pants he brought. Is that what he will abandon for a lesser goal? Or will I be looking at his main objective which is not being convicted of murder and going home. I don’t think he’ll be abandoning that main objective for a lesser goal, or will he?

Warm-up Exercise

Set your timer for 15 minutes. What will your hero do to resist change? What will your hero do to fight the biggest battle he must overcome – himself? – from SavetheCat.com

→ This exercise really helped me get to some points in my MC’s character arc. It always amazes me how the ticking of a cheap kitchen timer helps me break through my inner editor and get words on the page.

Word Of The Day

spendthrift: noun- a person who spends possessions or money extravagantly or wastefully; prodigal. adjective- wastefully extravagant; prodigal.

Kirk had never that himself a spendthrift, but after meeting that man who had nothing, he couldn’t pay these prices for a pair of pants. He decided to find a charity store.

8 Action Verbs:

To clear his head and make sure he could still read words, he grabbed the Bible from the bedside drawer. Guests had annotated the pages in the margins, sometimes all over the page with their names and dates of stay, weird things that had happened in this room. After flipping through a few pages, he shut it and put it in the back corner of the bottom drawer of the dresser where he would not have the chance to see it again.

She clarified her position by handing him his keys and walking away.

They correlated his arrival in town with every bad thing that happened in the area.

He estimated he now had hours, not days to prove he couldn’t have done it.

Their ability to communicate improved after a couple of days.

He moderated his emotions by counting backward in his head.

He recorded sounds of the lake, waves against the bulkhead, burps and pops of water under a dock, splashes of fish jumping.

He started. He was so jumpy these days.

Awesome Sentence Challenge

As you develop your antagonist and your secondary characters, you want to show parallels between them and your protagonist. Parallelism is also important in your sentences.

If two or more ideas are parallel, they are easier to grasp when expressed in parallel grammatical form. -from A Writer’s Reference by Diana Hacker and Robert A. Schwegler

a. Balance parallel ideas in a series: Hooked on thriller novels, I learned that there is nothing more important than being rich, typing code, and to have having more than one gun.

→Watching Ida Lupina, he felt he needed to harden his heart, sharpen his wit, and tighten his belt.

b. Balance parallel ideas presented as pairs- these ideas are usually connected with a coordinating conjunction (and, but, or); a pair of correlative conjunctions (either . . . or, not only . . . but also); with a word introducing a comparison (than, as): It is easier to speak in abstractions than grounding to ground one’s thoughts in reality.

→He found it harder to ignore the house than to enter it.

→Not only was he finding his footing but also enjoying his evening.

c. Repeat function words to clarify parallels- Function words such as prepositions (by, to) and subordinating conjunctions (that, because) signal the grammatical nature of the word groups that follow: In an attempt to stop her thumb-sucking habit, her parents tried painting a noxious substance on her thumb to change the taste or making her wear gloves changing to change the texture.

→He thought he could distract her by changing the subject, by pointing at something, or, if he had to, by touching her hand.

While you write today, look out for places to use parallelism for clarity in your sentences.

Extra Exercise for today

I’m going to take a look at that first part of the Awesome sentence challenge and make it a prompt. To do that, I thought I would look at how other authors approach parallelism in their writing and found some different takes on the idea.

The prompt: What does parallel mean to you in your writing? Look for parallels between your protagonist, antagonist, and secondary characters (traits, backgrounds, interests, events). Look for parallels for foreshadowing. Look for parallel and perpendicular character development.

Research

Speaking of parallels, I decided to start diving into the work of Ida Lupino since I made her my hero’s mentor. She was the only woman to direct an episode of the original Twilight Zone and since I like that show I decided to start there before diving into her movies. The first episode I watched was one that she acted in called the 16 Millimeter Shrine. The story is about an aging actress that cuts herself off from the world. The parallel’s to Ida’s real life were incredibly apparent, perhaps the cliche of the aging actress, it also, in a way predicted her future, like an episode of the Twilight Zone. Ah, the circle of life.

The second episode I watched was the one she directed. Episode 25 from season 5 called The Masks. It takes place in New Orleans during Mardi Gras of course (because in the cinematic universe it is always Mardi Gras in New Orleans). I almost didn’t watch it. The coincidence of her episode being in New Orleans was a bit too much, but I went ahead and put it on while I wrote.

This made me think of coincidences. How do coincidences affect my MC?

Coincidences

I don’t think I’ve really explored this topic, so I found some interesting articles.

Now I’ll be scouring my reading and writing for coincidences.

Recommended Word Crawl

Alice in Wonderland Word Crawl

Need a break from all this writing, but still want to be working on your hero’s journey? You could watch Alice In Wonderland and compare her Hero’s Journey to your Hero’s Journey or plot out the Save the Cat Story Beats and compare them to yours. Have fun with it!

Happy Writing!

I hope you find some inspiration in these exercises.

Building toward the midpoint on #NaNoWriMo 2019 Day 13

buckets

Image prompt: I love this idea that rusted and broken useless buckets gather together and still collect things. Where do buckets gather in my story? What do they collect?

On Day 13 in 2017 I was ambitious and already at the midpoint, looking at the Inmost Cave. This year, I feel like I’m still very much at the beginning. So today, I decided to make a day to hit the scenes I need, to build toward that midpoint.

Brainstorming Exercise: There are a few ways for me to do this. I’m going to create four checklists that all overlap.

  1. Save the Cat beat sheet
  2. The hero’s journey
  3. Three act structure
  4. Story Grid essential scenes

I’m going to check off each of the scenes I’ve written so far for each of these plot/scene checklists and brainstorm what scenes need to happen to build to my mid-point.

This exercise was great!! Seeing my scenes in the different plot structures helped me see where things have already changed from my original beat sheet and where I would like to made changes. It opened my eyes to areas that will need higher stakes and more conflict, and I was able to see where my essential scenes are. I was excited to see I’ve already planned all of them. I’m feeling good that I’m on track to hit the important scenes and building tension and intrigue as I approach my midpoint.

#vss365: Wind

I love the quote used in this prompt:

If you reveal your secrets to the wind, you should not blame the wind for revealing them to the trees. -Khalil Gibran

She liked to #wind her up. She flushed and her eyes lit up when she defended her opinions. Sadly, she caught on and stopped taking the bait.

Today’s Simple Task

Reversal of yesterday. Show that whatever your MC discovered yesterday, the opposite is actually true.

→ I love this prompt, especially for this WIP (work in progress). This could happen almost every day for my protagonist and antagonist. Where to begin?

Warm-up Exercise

Try this prompt from Is Life Like This?: A Guide to Writing Your First Novel in Six Months by John Dufresne.

Answering Machine: Your character is troubled as usual. What is today’s specific problem? Write about it. Now, he has a voice mail message and is surprised to learn that the message solves his problem, alleviates his trouble. Play (write) the message.

→This is kind of funny: When I first looked at the exercise and saw Answering Machine, I imagined that the message would cause a conflict. I imagined that if my MC received a message from home, it would be something he couldn’t solve because he was so far away and would make things very difficult for him. Then I read the prompt and the message is supposed to alleviate his trouble. Do I want to write both ideas?

Word Of The Day

sonorous: adj. loud, deep or resonant as a sound.

His anger exploded as a sonorous boom.

8 Action Verbs:

She analyzed her notes. What hadn’t he said? What was he avoiding?

He chose to change direction while they walked. She hadn’t noticed at the time because he said he thought he had seen something, but now she wondered if he had done it on purpose.

She corrected her timeline. They may not have abandoned the property when she thought. If true, that would be even more disturbing.

His established routine needed to stay intact.

He implemented his plan. It had to work.

He modeled his plan after one of Oren’s stories.

He received a package at the front desk.

The man spoke strangely, as if within one sentence some words were meant for you and some were not.

Awesome Sentence Challenge

Identifying Independent and Dependent Clauses

Using serial descriptive clauses, try to write the longest sentence you can.

Each of her questions felt like a trick, leading yet digging, boiled down to yes or no but expecting so much more, asking for subliminal clues, triggering micro-expressions, an eye movement, a nostril flare.

Happy Reading and Writing!

I hope you find some of these exercises inspiring. I’ll see you tomorrow.

The Antagonist’s Tests, Allies & Enemies on #NaNoWriMo Day 12

abandoned ball

Day 12 (2017) The Antagonist’s Tests, Allies & Enemies

The antagonist is on his or her own hero’s journey. Thus, he or she would also have people who help and hinder along the way. Today, I’ll be taking a closer look at how my antagonist(s) are seeing and responding to the story events.

#vss365: crank

(odd coincidence: I took a picture of a crank and put that crank in my novel yesterday)

He understood it now, the crank, the chain. That sound, that horrible sound, clanking and grinding in his head. It had been there all this time and it had a terrible purpose.

Today’s Simple Task

MC compares self to other characters in story – false sense of achieving goal

→  I like this prompt for my scene today. As Kirk walks the property with Shawna and she tries to get him to give her clues, he constantly talks about how he was different from the rest of the family, trying to portray himself in a good light, but over-doing it. Turning himself into a saint in contrast to the devils. Then he catches himself and tries to make them not look guilty either.

Warm-up Exercise

Set your timer for 15 minutes. What problems are coming for your protagonist that s/he is not aware of yet?

→ Since this is very similar to how I looked at the simple task yesterday, I’m going to change it to “What problems are coming for your antagonist?”

Word Of The Day

recidivist: n. repeat offender

He was becoming a recidivist. He had heard it was a slippery slope. One lie leads to another lie to another lie until you can’t keep track anymore. He was sliding quickly now.

8 Action Verbs:

She had done her research. They allocated one percent of the budget to missing persons and only one percent of that budget went to persons that were missing more than a year. No wonder he wanted this case closed now.

When last he checked, no one had noticed he was gone.

She coordinated a surprise birthday party for the sheriff. It would give her one more afternoon, maybe even the weekend before he noticed she hadn’t stopped her investigation.

She enlarged the image. She had been right.

She had long immunized against chauvinism. She almost didn’t hear it anymore.

She would have mediated the argument between the two brothers if she could understand them at all. She knew Kirk was speaking English, but it still didn’t make any sense.

She snagged the book and raised it above her head. That got their attention.

She hadn’t specified the details for which she searched.

Awesome Sentence Challenge

Look at the last paragraph you wrote yesterday, or a paragraph you wrote this morning. For each sentence in the paragraph, write ten different sentences to say the same thing. You can use different words, but don’t change the meaning. Choose your favorites of the new sentences and combine them to reform the paragraph. Compare and contrast.

Before paragraph: He didn’t need any of this. He wanted to take white out to everything he had thought and seen today. He had often wished life could be edited. He looked around for the dog, thought he would give it a good thank you head scratch or belly-rub, but it was gone.

Example of ten ways to write first sentence:

  1. This visit was unnecessary.
  2. He found these emotions extraneous.
  3. Facing his past was non-essential.
  4. Kirk’s psyche was too fragile to dive into his past.
  5. This house had no claim on him.
  6. He was committed to moving on.
  7. Visiting his past was a frivolous activity.
  8. The memories this visit dug up were not what he needed.
  9. He felt overwhelmed by the burden of this place.
  10. He wished he had found a way out of coming here.

After paragraph: The memories this visit dug up were not what he needed. He craved the ignorance of yesterday. He had often seen life as a bad movie that needed a good edit. He thought he would give the dog a good scratch as a thank you. The dog was gone.

Compare and contrast: Without the context of what came before, the second paragraph is clearer. The first sentence was too vague before. I like the visual of erasing or blotting out what he had seen and felt in the first paragraph, so I might go back to something like that. I really like the third sentence in the after paragraph, but then had a bunch of trouble with the dog sentence out of context. I would need to add something to make it smoother, I think.

Overall this is a great exercise and something I plan to bring to my editing.

Mapping the Hero’s Journey:

Today is about the tests, allies and enemies of the antagonist.

Test card: Judgement
MC learns from test: The Empress

Allies: Eight of coins
Most important ally: Queen of cups

Enemies: Seven of cups
What motivates the enemies: Two of cups

My interpretation: It’s very interesting that I pulled the same enemies cards as yesterday.  So let’s see. My antagonist’s test is about trusting her judgement and whether she can reconcile with her past (interesting parallel to the protagonist). Through this test she will learn resourcefulness, generosity, and creativity. She finds allies in her apprentices, people who are learning her trade. Her most important ally is an intuitive woman. Her enemy could be her own indecision, or the protagonist.

 

Happy Writing!

I hope you find some inspiration in these exercises.

Tests, Allies and Enemies on #NaNoWriMo Day 11

red crank

Image inspiration: This morning I continued my search for things that could be found on an abandoned property that make me say: What is that doing there? And what is it for?

How’s everyone’s writing going? I hope you’re enjoying your story and getting to know your characters no matter what your word count.

I made a lot of progress yesterday and had a lot of fun. I accidentally wandered into a bonus writing exercise: Have your MC wander through each room of a house s/he used to live in. Each room triggers a memory. What triggers it, a site, sound, or smell? Is the memory pleasant or unpleasant?

Day 11 (2017) Tests, Allies and Enemies

This is the perfect theme for my writing today. My MC has had a difficult first interview with the detective and now has agreed to walk the abandoned property with her. Neither character is sure if the other is an ally or enemy, but at the moment, they know they can’t trust each other and the stakes are high. So let’s see how the prompts work with this idea.

#vss365: march

The last few days had felt like one endless march uphill in wet socks with blisters. He was exhausted. Everything ached. He was covered in cuts and scrapes and itched from nettles. He wanted to go home, but the worst was still ahead.

Today’s Simple Task

Something happens that is out of your MC’s control.

→ This is a given since everything is out of his control right now. He’s used to being in control. I’ll need to narrow this down to something very unexpected. And/or think of things he does to feel like he is in control.

Warm-up Exercise

Your MC is having a conversation, in person, with two people. One s/he considers an “ally” and one an “enemy”. Write the dialogue.

→ This is a tricky one. My MC doesn’t feel he has any allies where he is. He did mention that she seemed like two different people during his interrogation. Or the detective could bring someone with her and they’re doing a good cop/bad cop thing. Or there’s the stray dog on the property that he could see as an ally.

Word Of The Day

guisard: n. a person who wears a mask.

At first he believed a silent guisard stared at him from the corner, but it was a half-burnt mannequin. He recognized it now. Oren had brought it home from a going out of business sale and started dressing it up as the characters in his stories.

8 Action Verbs:

He said it aided him when imagining body language.

He chartered  a sea plane, a lake plane really, to fly him over the lake. He had always wanted to see it from above.

She almost had him convinced he was guilty.

Someone had engineered an elaborate warning system, but what did it trigger and who did it alert?

The way the pages suddenly came to life made him think of the old movie The Illustrated Man.

She was always so measured. Did she have any life outside of her job?

He questioned her motivations. She did not appear to be listening anymore. Was she trying to find any other suspects, the real murderer?

He specialized in watching other people physically gather the clues and puzzle them together, so he could make the arrest and take the credit.

Awesome Sentence Challenge

Grab a book by an author you would be proud to be compared to; a book that you think has a similar tone to the writing you are working on. Open to a random page and start reading out loud. Write down your favorite words on the page. Does this author use a lot of sentence variety?

Emulate the sentence structures of one paragraph, using your own words.

For this exercise, instead of looking to the authors I already know well, I decided to check out three books off of my Thrillers to read list. I don’t know what happened to me, but I have not been reading novels like I usually do. I’ve been in pick-em-up and put-em-down mode for too long, but I’ll keep trying. I checked out:

  1. The Red Car by Marcy Dermansky
  2. Gone for Good by Harlan Coben (I didn’t get far last month)
  3. 1Q84 by Haruki Murakami

 

Mapping the Hero’s Journey:

Today’s reading, following Mapping the Hero’s Journey With Tarot: 33 Days To Finish Your Book by Arwen Lynch, is a little different. First, you pull three cards: one is the Test card, one is for allies, and one is for enemies. Then you place a card under each of those cards. The one under Test card is the most important thing your MC learns from the test throughout the story. The one under the Allies represents the most important ally in your MC’s world and the card under the enemies shows what motivates his enemies against him.

Test card: Ten of swords
MC learns from test: Three of coins

Allies: The Magician
Most important ally: The World

Enemies: Seven of cups
What motivates the enemies: Two of cups

My interpretation: My MC is facing ruin. That is not to say death and destruction exactly, but something that seems like a sudden event which has a history. It is the natural culmination of a series of events that will bring change. This ending clears the way for new possibilities. What he learns from this trial is how to let his talents show to the public.

His ally turns out to be The Magician. I had already associated the Magician with his brother, so this is an interesting turn. I’m thinking that his most important ally lies within his brother’s world and remembering the world they had together. His enemies are his choices and confusion. At the moment it’s not clear what is feasible and what is fantasy and everything is up in the air.

His enemies are his circumstances and insecurities. However, this enemies card can also show the beginning stages of a new project. I could also interpret this as the detective is his enemy because she doesn’t know what is feasible and what is fantasy.

The enemies’ motivation is harmony, peace, partnership and love, so that could be why the detective wants to solve the case, something to do with harmony and peace in her life or it could be my protagonist’s motivation to get over his internal enemies to find harmony and peace, perhaps to finally be able to create fulfilling relationships.

Word Crawls

Since today’s Save The Cat beat is Fun & Games, I think I’ll do a Word Crawl. I found a really cute Bob Ross themed one on the NaNo site The Joy of Painting Crawl, so I’m going to get my words in while painting some imaginary puffy little clouds and happy little trees.

Happy Writing!

I hope you find some inspiration in these exercises.

Crossing The Threshold on #NaNoWriMo Day 8

Happy Writing!

I hope you find some inspiration in these exercises. Have a great weekend writing!!

These posts are a lot and I still have the planner pages and Gator McBumpypants to get to, so I may not post again until Monday. See you then.

The Mentor of #NaNoWriMo Day 7

perfect flame

I woke up this morning and went straight to my manuscript. I had a bad dream, but it made me think of a scene for my story and I didn’t want to miss it. It has been foggy and cold the last few days, so I decided to have a fire in the fireplace. The neighbor’s cat came over to see what I was up to and cuddled with me as I typed for a bit. Gotta say, it has been a great morning.

I’ve already done my morning pages and have half my words for today!! And it’s a good thing too because I have found a major distraction in my fireplace inspired by the high shutter speed photos I took. I could honestly just feed that fire and take pictures all day. But then I selected a couple to illustrate this post and they reminded me of my bokeh filters. I can’t believe I never tried bokeh with fire.

It’s challenging. I’m going to have to play around with my camera setting a lot more. I may need to add some Christmas lights to the front of the fireplace to get some unblurred shapes or shine a light into the fireplace so I can use lower ISO settings, but a new palette has emerged and I’m excited.

a new idea

A new idea by Maria L. Berg bokeh in fire.

Back to NaNoWriMo Day 7 The Mentor

As you may have guessed fire is my mentor today. That would mean I see my mentor as a muse, a giver of creative ideas, a non-corporeal entity. However, the mentor can be many things. I found a good post at Thought Co. The Hero’s Journey: Meeting with the Mentor 

The article mentions Jung, so I thought great, I’ll just grab my copy of The Archetypes and the Collective Unconscious and Man and His Symbols, look up mentor in the Index and soon have a complete understanding. No such luck. The word “mentor” wasn’t indexed in either one. Since I have already been distracted by photography today and did not feel like reading hundred of pages to figure out why “mentor” wasn’t index and yet “menstrual blood” was in both. I let that idea go.

The mentor is usually an older, wiser person who helps your hero get past the refusal and get on with the adventure. Thinking about that this morning, I easily came up with a mentor for my detective: her father (memories of) and an instructor from the police academy. I also easily came up with a mentor for my antagonist: an imaginary guide he calls “the oracle” who is actually his memories of his older brother who always looked out for him when he was a kid. But I’m not sure who my protagonist’s mentor is.

He doesn’t for long lasting relationships and is always hiding his true self. Who would he turn to for advice. He wants to direct movies, so maybe he would turn to the films of his favorite director for advice. Or watch interviews with his favorite director. Maybe he would just go see a movie or read a book his favorite director wrote. I like this idea because it parallels or mirrors the imaginary world of the antagonist’s mental state. They both think they are perfectly sane, but neither really relates to the real world.

Happy Writing!

I hope you find some inspiration in these exercises. See you tomorrow.