How My Writing Process Saved the Day, and How it Can Save Yours

More about planning and process: a guest post over at Bane of Your Resistance. Drop by and say hello, and watch for details about the process (new and improved over my previous version, I might add) in next week’s guest post.

Let’s Build a House! (Why Planning will Make Your Writing Life Better)

Fair warning: if you are committed to the spontaneous pantsing version of writing, please don’t read this. You won’t benefit, I won’t benefit. If you’re open to having assumptions challenged, read on. To the end. Don’t read the first 80% and quit or you won’t get the point.

What is a House?

Though wildly different around the world, all houses share certain characteristics. Let’s explore the ins and outs.

  1. Roof — Without a covering, it’s a yard, not a house.
  2. Floor — It may be dirt, but it’s not water or air. If your residents are standing in a pool up to their waist, or swinging in hammocks 30′ aboveground, you’ve built something other than a house.
  3. Privacy — Roof but no walls = carport or equivalent.
  4. Toilet — Yes, in some parts of the world this is not inside the house. If you live in one of those places, you may dispute this requirement.
  5. Services — Electricity. Running water. Drains. See above note for quibbles.
  6. Egress — Without a door suitable for us humans to enter through, it’s not a house, it’s something else.
  7. Lighting — Even if it’s windows and skylights, there’s a way for light to come in.

You may dispute any of these if you choose to live in the house yourself.

If you plan to sell the house, or even sell time using the house (called “renting”) I defy you to leave any of these out and still succeed.

… more … “Let’s Build a House! (Why Planning will Make Your Writing Life Better)”

How I Write

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”

Gathering Structural Support

I’m gathering resources to create some kind of structure checklist for my writing and wanted to share 3 useful lists and concepts I’ve encountered the past week.

structural support

… more … “Gathering Structural Support”

Bringing Some Reality to Your Writing

Science tries to deal with what’s real, to identify and label and if possible rule out the imaginary, illogical, impossible.

Sometimes science bothers people with little facts like gravity being the weakest force in the known universe. The only thing that keeps us from flying off into space as the earth turns (moving 1,000mph at the equator but slower near the poles) is that the earth is so huge that the tiny pull of gravity is amplified enough to keep us pinned.

Earth spinning: at the equator, a spot moves 24,000 miles in 24 hours. Simple math: 1,000mpg.

About 8 feet from the geographic pole, you could draw a circle 24 feet around. Stand (float) in one spot, and make the 24-foot trip in the same 24 hours.

That spot is moving 1 foot per hour. The bit at the equator is going 5,280,000 times as fast (1,000mph = 5,280,000 feet per hour.)

… more … “Bringing Some Reality to Your Writing”

Your Novel in 12 Sentences: Summary

The Ultimate Plotting Tool for Pantsers

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”

Resolution (#12 of 12 Sentences)

#12 Resolution

#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)”

Climax (#11 of 12 Sentences)

#11 Climax

#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)”

The Second Plot Point (#10 of 12 Sentences)

#10 Second Plot Point

#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)”

All is Lost Moment (#9 of 12 Sentences)

#9 All is Lost Moment

#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.

My Pathfinding Session for fiction authors will dredge up these 12 sentences from the secret place they’re hiding in the back of your mind. It’s $1,000 worth of writing coaching for only $325. Follow this link to read about it and sign up.