Or, more accurately, how I begin the process of moving toward my books.
Planning is a left-brain process. Creativity has to have a healthy dose of right brain. You need both. The apocryphal Hemingwayesque “write drunk, edit sober.”
Here’s a very short version of my story-generating process, which thus far has given me good results blending left and right, analytical and creative: … more … “How I Write”
A new list member asked about outlining; how to, more than why to (or why not to.)
Below is an enormous excerpt from my cute little book Getting Your Book Out of the Someday Box. While it describes my nonfiction writing process, it’s really an information-gathering-and-sorting process, which, in a way, is what outlining is about.
If this raises more questions than it answers, as I fear it will, ask and ye shall receive.
… more … “Outlining My Feelings On Outlining”
Your entire novel in 12 sentences. When I first read the concept, it made perfect sense to me because I’d just finished Story Engineering and knew why it would work.
What about you? Has this made sense?
It’s not easy. I’m grinding through the 12 sentences for the sequel to Through the Fog and they’re not coming easily.
But I’d rather struggle now than after writing a 40,000-word draft.
More than once I’ve heard the claim that some folks can’t plan a story in advance.
I just don’t buy it. … more … “Your Novel in 12 Sentences: Summary”
#12 of only 12 sentences you need to define your entire novel.
The last big event in your novel is the Resolution, where your hero delivers the coup de grace, eliminating the antagonist as a threat.
While others might be involved, your hero needs to be the one who nails the bad guy. Your hero cannot be saved by someone else, by circumstances, by a god in the machine. Even if it’s indirect, a discerning reader should see that the events which took the antagonist down were set in motion, directed, driven by the hero.
This is the final change in our protagonist: … more … “Resolution (#12 of 12 Sentences)”
#11 of only 12 sentences you need to define your entire novel.
After the hero survives the “All is Lost” Moment and the last piece of the puzzle surfaces in the Second Plot Point, it’s a race to the finish. Nothing new added; the only surprises are the realities foreshadowed earlier.
… more … “Climax (#11 of 12 Sentences)”
#10 of only 12 sentences you need to define your entire novel.
Now that our hero is in Attack mode, we need one last bit of information to put them on the path to victory. That last piece of the puzzle is the Second Plot Point. It’s the last piece of new information you can add. After this, everything and everybody is in play. No deus ex machina salvation or surprises.
… more … “The Second Plot Point (#10 of 12 Sentences)”
#9 of only 12 sentences you need to define your entire novel.
To amp the moment when our hero finds the last piece of the puzzle and begins the chase, provide some contrast: just before the Second Plot Point, slam your readers with an All is Lost moment. Yank the rug out. If you’ve put your hero up a tree and thrown rocks at them, this is the point to have angry woodsmen chainsawing the trunk as they set it on fire. Preferably with flamethrowers. And one of the good guys up the tree with our here might turn out to be in cahoots with the enemy and shove them off the branch, where they hang by one hand above the flaming chainsaws.
Getting from here to your Second Plot Point is one of the toughest parts of writing. Get it right, and your readers will worship the water you walk on.
Write a sentence to explain what goes wrong to throw your hero into the pit of despair which is the All is Lost moment.
Tomorrow, #10: the Second Plot Point.
#8 of only 12 sentences you need to define your entire novel.
Midway through the Attack comes the Second Pinch Point, where we share another glimpse into the evil of our antagonist. Just like during Response as our hero was flailing and failing, reveal another vivid first-hand look at what our hero is up against. As before, simple and direct is best.
Write one sentence describing this clear look into the antagonist’s actions and how it raises the stakes for our hero.
Tomorrow, #9: the All is Lost Moment.
#7 of only 12 sentences you need to define your entire novel.
Based on the new information introduced at the Midpoint, the hero shifts from wanderer, reacting uselessly, to warrior, attacking the problem head on.
The magnitude of this shift reminds us how significant the Midpoint is. A weak Midpoint makes the Attack less believable.
… more … “Attack (#7 of 12 Sentences)”
#6 of only 12 sentences you need to define your entire novel.
If your novel were a play, the Setup would be Act I. Act II would be split in two: Response and Attack. In Response we saw the hero flail and fail. In Attack, they’re no longer reacting to what’s done to them, to circumstances. Instead, they’ll become a driver for the action, attacking the problem head on. They’re no longer an aimless wanderer.
The event which changes all that is the Midpoint.
… more … “The Midpoint (#6 of 12 Sentences)”