“The difference between the almost right word and the right word is really a large matter. ’tis the difference between the lightning bug and the lightning.” Mark Twain

Writing Craft Recap for June

I have declared 2012 my year to learn the writing craft better. And once a month, generally on the first Thursday of the month, I will share some of the highlights of what I've learned.

So, here I go. Much of my learning came from Randy Ingermanson's class on the Snowflake method, given free by ACFW last month. But I also got some gems from a few writing magazines.

So here I go!

From the July issue of The Writer and the July/August issue of Writer's Digest:
  • There IS a difference between deep third person point of view and deep first person - besides the pronouns.
  • "A line of dialogue cannot just be doing one thing. It has to be characterizing, it has to be atmospheric, it has to be informative and provide exposition." ZZ Packer
  • Plot twists are TOUGH - but totally worth working to get right.
  • A great plot twist is more than just believable - it is, in retrospect, the only possible ending to that scene, act, or story.
  • When creating a rivalry between characters, the two should be evenly matched, though in different areas.
From The Snowflake class, taught by Randy Ingermanson:
  • I am absolutely, positively a PLOTTER/PLANNER.
  • Less is more
  • It's crucial to be able to boil your story down to one idea that can be communicated in a few seconds.
  • More people will dislike your story than will like it - and that's okay (even J.K. Rowling has only sold her books to 7% of the population).
  • Your characters need to be both comprehensible and unpredictable.
  • Character's motivations (a combination of their goal, ambition, and values) make it possible for characters to be both comprehensible and unpredictable.
  • The three-act structure is a good basis for a one-paragraph summary of your story.
  • The first act ends with the first disaster, which forces your lead character to commit to the story.
  • The first half of the second act ends with the second disaster, which forces your lead character to change direction.
  • The second act ends with the third disaster, which forces your lead character AND your villain to commit to a final showdown.
  • The third act includes the final showdown and brings the story to a satifying conclusion.
  • Writing character synopses is a great way to learn more about your characters and how they fit into the story.
  • I absolutely, positively NEED TO work through all ten steps of the Snowflake Method on my current WIP.
I hope you learned something as well! Watch this spot next month, where I'll share, among other things, what I've learned from Jeff Gerke's class on Description, Dialogue and Dirty Words, as well as the Savvy Authors class on writing and researching historical fiction.

Questions? Comments? Observations? What was most interesting/helpful to you?

Traveling Rough Roads With God's Strength


  1. I'm loving the Snowflake Method as well. Ingermanson's 3-act structure seemed limiting at first, but with that framework now in place, I'm finding it easier (and more fruitful) to breathe life into my WIP.

    Really like that ZZ Packer quote.

  2. SO glad it's helping you too, Di! And isn't that quote something else? So much to ponder.

    Thanks for stopping by!

  3. I love a good plot twist. As a reader, that's what will stick with me after the story -- if it's a good one, and as you say, one that in hindsight looks like the only way but yet I totally didn't see coming.

    Now, to learn how to create them!

  4. Love those twists too, Janet! The article in Writers Digest was quite helpful. :) Thanks for stopping by!


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