"If you write FOR a particular market or FOR a particular editor you will often miss the mark. But if you write because your fingers have danced across the keyboard, because a character has tapped you on the shoulder, because a story has settled in your heart, then even if you never sell it you have done the work you were meant to do. And sometime, dear readers, real magic happens." Jane Yolen

10/4/12

Writing Craft Recap for September

Time to share some of what I learned last month about the writing craft! (learning the craft is my declared focus for 2012 - and it has been SO good for me!)

I had a few sources of learning in September, including the free ACFW course on Plotting, the unofficial ACFW at-home conference, and a couple of magazines. Hoping you will glean some good stuff from what I'm sharing here (and know, of course, that this isn't EVERYTHING I learned - just the highlights!).

And here I go!

From Plodding vs Plotting class at ACFW:
  • The plot is what the character goes through to overcome the obstacles standing in the way of achieving his goal.
  • The plot is the vehicle for the hero's transformation
  •  If your characters are well-developed, they will come alive and take the story where it needs to go.
  • The middle of the story is all about raising conflict,increasing tension, making the journey more and more difficult for our hero.
  • Act one is complete when all your main characters have been introduced, when the main story challenge is introduced and your hero is engaged in it.
  •  Plot, character, and societal stakes need to be high.
  • Keep building the tension until the last possible moment.
From the unofficial ACFW At-Home Conference:
  •  Let your reader experience emotions at the same time as your characters.
  • Make sure your character tries, or at least considers and discards, the easiest, most obvious and most logical solutions to her dilemma before she finally hits on the right (and hard) solution.
  • Every word in your story will add to or detract from the story.
  •  YA books generally take place in shorter time frames than "adult" books.
From the October issue of Writer's Digest:
  • What matters when it comes to critiques is not how far along you are, but the source of the feedback.
  • To raise the stakes, make us care about something, then put that something in danger.
  • The longer we keep our reader guessing, the more attention they will pay to what they are reading.
From the October issue of The Writer:
  • Writing in bite-sized chunks - one idea at a time - is very appealing to me.
  • Secrets up the tension.
  • The more the story matters to your character, the more it will matter to your reader.
  • Your novel should be like a sitcom - every character should be interesting enough to have a spin-off show.
Good stuff, eh? Be sure to come by next month, when I'll be sharing what I learned from, among other things, the ACFW class on characterization, a Savvy Authors class on Goal, Motivation and Conflict, and the ACFW Great Lakes Chapter's writing conference the last weekend in October (click here if you want more info! All are welcome )
      Questions? Comments? Observations? What was most interesting/helpful to you?

 

5 comments:

  1. Sounds like a great course. Thanks for sharing these plotting helps.

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  2. Well, I don't write fiction, Joanne, but I think many of these tips can apply to non-fiction. I especially liked...

    Let your reader experience emotions at the same time as your characters.

    Every word in your story will add to or detract from the story.

    What matters when it comes to critiques is not how far along you are, but the source of the feedback.

    You're always so faithful to keep working on your writing. I commend you, friend. I do hope to hold one of your books in my hand one day. Keep to it.

    peace~elaine



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  3. Lots of wisdom here! Pondering the one about critiques… A significant other of a critiquer attended our group for a while. We called him "Silent Greg" because he rarely said anything. But when he did speak, he had great insight and unique comments. So I'd say good feedback can come from unexpected sources.

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  4. Great thoughts! I especially like the first ones from the plotting course, something to really think about in our novel writing :)

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  5. Thanks so much, ladies. I am astounded at how much I can learn if I really pay attention!

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