17 December 2014

21-Days to Goal: How to Be Your Best at the Start of the New Year Starting Today!

The trick to starting off the new year on more solid-footing, begin now.

1) Think about how you'd like 2015 to be for yourself personally (I appreciate how difficult the task to separate yourself out from your family and friends and community at large. For this exercise, try). If the entire year feels too daunting, visualize simply the very best January you can imagine for yourself personally.

2) Write a long-term - 21day -- goal of the skill(s), belief(s), ability(s), habit(s) you wish to take into the new year that best serves your vision. Write the 21-day goal in the present-tense.

3) List specific steps you plan to take, starting today, to position yourself in the direct light of your vision for 2015.

4) Schedule and mark the next 21-days on your calendar the specific steps on your list:
  • daily writing
  • sitting at your computer for 5-minutes
  • unplugging 3 times a day from negative emotions to positive affirmations
  • 21 days with a Plot Planner and 10 minutes daily questioning your characters, twisting the action and mining the meaning
  • making a Plot Planner for your life with your goal at the highest point (see the Plot Tips banner) and working backwards for what to do daily to move one step nearer to your glory in 21-days.
5) Everyday, check off another success on your calendar. Turn to 2015. On January 4th, greet the new year changed and better aligned with your vision of the future.

15 December 2014

Examples of the 2 Most Common Templates for Developing Characters

In early November, I wrote about Characters in Action-Driven Novels and Those in Character-Driven Stories.

A few nights ago, engrossed in The Hundred-Foot Journey directed by Lasse Hallström from a screenplay written by Steven Knight and adapted from Richard C. Morais' 2010 novel The Hundred-Foot Journey, I was struck how perfectly Hassan exemplifies the character-driven profile while Papa Kadam assertively personifies the action-driven profile.

1) Reflective of a character-driven character profile
Hassan, before moving on when faced with failure / challenges / obstacles :
  • Slows down
  • Reflect how he's doing while being sensitive to others
  • Evaluates his behavior and reactions 
  • Examines at what went wrong from all angles
  • Learns from his mistakes

2) Reflective of an action-driven character profile
Papa Kadam, on the other hand, classically impulsive and, when faced with failure / challenges / obstacles (until the very end):
  • Doesn't stop to evaluate what went wrong
  • Thinks less
  • Acts / reacts faster 
  • Multi-tasks
  • Focuses on the achieving the goal not how his behavior affects others

14 December 2014

Plot Whisperer Martha Alderson's PlotWriMo: Revise Your Novel in a Month with Literary Agent Jill Corcoran

Seven years ago, I began offering the beta version of PlotWriMo for novelists who were word-drunk from NaNoWriMo. Over the years I refined and perfected the steps to help writers revise all those words generated in November into a compelling story with a plot (and all other novelists and memoirists and screenwriters struggling to create a pleasing stories for readers).

Earlier this year, I partnered with Jill Corcoran and incorporated her insight of concept and knowledge about the inside of publishing into an entire PlotWriMo video program. The feedback and "ah ha" moments we have received have been enormously rewarding and makes all the time and hard work worthwhile.

Sample of incredibly gratifying "ah ha" Moments from Writers Using PlotWriMo to Revise their Stories
"Now, what did I learn from the videos? Goodness, what did I not? It's all about the structure. Being a pantser doesn't work when you are revising (Not sure it would work for me - ever), but you have to be clear in your journey. I also learned to forgive myself. To keep writing. And that we can learn from our mistakes and become better writers."

"Jill (video 4, I think) explained what agents meant when they say "They didn't connect" and it was like a lightbulb had been screwed in my head-- I failed to meet all of the essential elements of a scene. There was always something about my former MS that I could never pinpoint that felt off, and that was just it! I needed more emotional development, conflict/ tension, dramatic action and clear goals PER scene."

"I watched the Revise Your Novel in a Month videos and really began to understand the difference between crisis and climax and the key ways to develop each part of the plot."

"PlotWriMo is the closest “formula” for structuring a book I’ve ever discovered. It’s like an algebra equation for writing – if you’re missing any of the energetic markers you can’s solve for X."

"It’s helped me re-envision my own work and I can’t stop myself from dissecting every movie and book I’ve read since."

"I've learned a lot through the PlotWriMo series. I've always struggled with revision, but the PlotWriMo series has helped me organize my revision so that I am going deeper than I ever have before at making my story shine."

"I watched PlotWriMo and learned about EMs, concept and that the antagonist OWNS the middle."

“Ah, ha” Moment: The exercise of writing down all of the themes, and getting down to the grittier ones. And when I found my darker theme was about loss, and the threat of losing someone you love. I couldn’t believe when I went back and looked at the Energy Markers and found that common theme. I’m working on deepening the scenes with metaphors and thematic significance."

"Don't start drafting until you're happy with the concept and markers."

"As for what I learned, viewing both the crisis and the climax from my antagonist’s point of view gave my story dramatic action and the depth it needed to bind the story and pull in the reader."

"Yet my greatest aha moment came with the challenge of writing the concept, giving my story definition. As a young woman I took my family on some exciting adventures, wounds and all, and the only dream still intact in the end was my passion and desire to be a writer. I couldn’t just throw out my concept because it wasn’t good enough, or my life wouldn’t be either. Crafting my concept, meant validating what I had done and why, all the parts and pieces."

"I really had an "aha moment" when Martha Alderson talked about the end mirroring the beginning."

The icing on the proverbial cake is all the great success we hear from writers like the one writer who secured an agent (having the amazing opportunity to chose from 3 offering her contracts).
As Wendy McLeon MacKnight writes: "No word of lie - it is absolutely thanks to Jill Corcoran and Martha Alderson! The last round of revisions changed everything! I just thank god I have the videos and future classes for other books! I have worked like a dog on this book, but the videos and Martha's book really changes everything. The advanced workshop kicked my butt in the best way possible and made me really rethink some things and made the work so much better! What I know for sure is that maybe, without Jill and Martha and the videos, I might have eventually written a book that hung together, I might have eventually found a literary agent, but they gave me a wormhole that, with some elbow grease, allowed me to zip forward light years. And who doesn’t want to zip forward light years? So you may wonder if the cost of the course is worth it, but I’m here to say: six months after finding Jill and Martha I began to have agents requesting full manuscripts and now have a literary agent. And that is all thanks to Jill Corcoran and Martha Alderson and these wonderful tools they are offering us!"

13 December 2014

The Universal Story: As Your Story Evolves, You Evolve Too

Universal is characteristic of the whole, covering the entire collective, everyone and everything.
Story is an account of events in the evolution of something. 

The Universal Story embodies both these parts. An account of events in the evolution of something characteristic of the whole.

With no true beginning and no end -- though we often believe we can pinpoint the moment a new life is born, the true end of life -- when you begin writing a story, you jump right into the middle of the universal flow of things and fly in the current. Coming into existence, bound up and separated from all you know a struggle ensues. Finally free, transformation happens.

The Universal Story flows endlessly. Within the collective, each moment, each scene, every life begins, struggles and grows, transforms, dies off and begins again. Beginnings, middles and ends to beginnings, middles.., each part of the whole. The Universal Story sends all our stories, all our lives spiraling upward, evolving, transforming, dying off and becoming again.

I teach writers about the Universal Story with Plot Planners to better see the whole of of their stories and how each scene fits into the collective of the Universal Story.

Each of us benefits from considering our own personal stories and lives against the backdrop of a broader reality and the Universal Story

12 December 2014

Plot Twists: What Are They and How to Plot Them

The straight and well-defined line of the Plot Planner is an attempt to control the twistier and often blurry reality of the Universal Story. Plot twists engage readers. Each time the dramatic action twists in an unexpected (and carefully foreshadowed) direction the protagonist is forced to define new goals and perform difficult tasks, pointing the reader in the direction of her true goal.

At each of the 4 Energetic Markers, imagine and list five horrible antagonists that create five most horrible events. Look for people and action that feel the most thematically true to the protagonist's ultimate transformation AND that twists the story in a new (and carefully foreshadowed) direction. The Plot Planner guides the direction and degree of story intensity and provides a place for expansion. Each horrible thing broadens the readers appreciation of the protagonist's sense of self beyond the limitations of what was currently visible in the story.

The New England Horror Writers (NEHW) just today followed me on Twitter, @NEhorrorwriters and RTed one of my tweets to their followers. I followed back with the comment how horror writers penetrate our deepest fears and bring darkness to light.

In real life most of us run from the dark. We're afraid of the unknown and always looking for the light or dulled to an ashy grey. We deny our feelings and our protagonist's their shadows. We attempt to navigate the straight and narrow line of the Plot Planner, afraid of losing control of the story and falling into an abyss.

The braver you are, the bigger your story. Rather than confuse the reader, each plot twist spins the story deeper into the darkness of what haunts the protagonist, urges her to take heart and gather her courage for her next defined test of initiation and, in the end, brings the light and her true personal power.

At each step deeper, name the emotion. Search for the truth in the emotion. Convey that step, that emotion in an active, energetic and meaningful way, fulfilling the three major plot lines:

Character Emotional Development Plot -- emotion
Dramatic Action Plot -- steps taken / resistance met
Thematic Significance Plot -- defines that action / the meaning of her emotion

At each twist and turn and dark thing that happens as she pursues lofty ideals define her next specific short-term goal. Imagine the next horrible thing, obstacle, challenge, demon she meets. Foreshadow and twist the forward action in yet a different direction that affords a new view of her. Show emotions thematically true to her.

Each time an antagonist twists the story in a new direction, the protagonist defines a new goal like an arrow flying in the direction that brings forward her true purpose, releases power and provides her the freedom to conquer her fears and align with the final confrontation in her willingness to transform.

05 December 2014

Day #5 -- Blog Tour for PlotWriMo: Revise Your Novel in a Month

I'm almost sad to have the blog tour end! It's been such fun visiting author's blogs and gratifying reading all the lovely testimonials and hearing how PlotWriMo: Revise Your Novel in a Month has positively affected writers' lives.

Today we have 1 blog for you from someone I admire (likely you can guess why based simply on the name of her blog!)

Christine Sang Connecting to the Mysteries of Energy

(To learn more about PlotWriMo: Revise Your Novel in a Month and for some "ah ha" moments from writers using the video series to revise their novels, click here.)

For plot help and resources throughout the year

1)  The Plot Whisperer Workbook: Step-by-step Exercises to Help You Create Compelling Stories
2)  The Plot Whisperer: Secrets of Story Structure Any Writer Can Master
3)  The Plot Whisperer Book of Writing Prompts: Easy Exercises to Get You Writing.
  ~~~~~~~~
For as little as $10 a month, watch the videos as often as you wish for an entire year (and, lots of writers are finding PlotWriMo the exact right resource to help pre-plot for a powerful first draft. Knowing what to look for in a revision helps create a tighter first draft):

 ~~ View your story in an entirely new light. Recharge your energy and enthusiasm for your writing. 8 videos (5.5 hours)+ 30 exercises

04 December 2014

Day #4 -- Blog Tour for PlotWriMo: Revise Your Novel in a Month

3 bloggers are taking part today on our PlotWriMo: Revise Your Novel in a Month blog tour. Hop on over. Comment to enter and win an observation spot in an upcoming Office Hours.

(Remember to use #PlotWriMo in your tweets about the event.)

(To learn more about PlotWriMo and for some "ah ha" moments from writers using the video series to revise their novels, click here.)

Mikey Brooks My Keys on Writing, Illustrating and more
Deb Atwood Pen in Her Hand
Laurie J. Edwards Author, Artist Dreamer

For plot help and resources throughout the year

1)  The Plot Whisperer Workbook: Step-by-step Exercises to Help You Create Compelling Stories
2)  The Plot Whisperer: Secrets of Story Structure Any Writer Can Master
3)  The Plot Whisperer Book of Writing Prompts: Easy Exercises to Get You Writing.
  ~~~~~~~~
For as little as $10 a month, watch the videos as often as you wish for an entire year (and, lots of writers are finding PlotWriMo the exact right resource to help pre-plot for a powerful first draft. Knowing what to look for in a revision helps create a tighter first draft):

 ~~ View your story in an entirely new light. Recharge your energy and enthusiasm for your writing. 8 videos (5.5 hours)+ 30 exercises

03 December 2014

Day #3 -- Blog Tour for PlotWriMo: Revise Your Novel in a Month

Having such fun on the blog tour! Love reading everyone's comments and feel incredibly gratified to know how much PlotWriMo: Revise Your Novel in a Month has supported and changed writers lives. I feel like I'm glowing from the testimonials… Join us for revision tips, meet new writers and perhaps win a prize.

Today we have 3 new blogs for you to visit today and comment to win.

Jordan Rosenfeld
Robyn Campbell
Adite Banerjie

(To learn more about PlotWriMo and for some "ah ha" moments from writers using the video series to revise their novels, click here.) (To visit the other participating blogs scroll down to Day #2 and #1 blog posts)

For plot help and resources throughout the year

1)  The Plot Whisperer Workbook: Step-by-step Exercises to Help You Create Compelling Stories
2)  The Plot Whisperer: Secrets of Story Structure Any Writer Can Master
3)  The Plot Whisperer Book of Writing Prompts: Easy Exercises to Get You Writing.
  ~~~~~~~~
For as little as $10 a month, watch the videos as often as you wish for an entire year (and, lots of writers are finding PlotWriMo the exact right resource to help pre-plot for a powerful first draft. Knowing what to look for in a revision helps create a tighter first draft):

 ~~ View your story in an entirely new light. Recharge your energy and enthusiasm for your writing. 8 videos (5.5 hours)+ 30 exercises

02 December 2014

Day #2 -- Blog Tour for PlotWriMo: Revise Your Novel in a Month

We have 4 new blogs for you to visit today on our PlotWriMo: Revise Your Novel in a Month blog tour. Comment to enter and win an observation spot in an upcoming Office Hours. We'd love you to tweet about your participation and use the hashtag #PlotWriMo.

(To learn more about PlotWriMo: Revise Your Novel in a Month and for "ah ha" moments from writers using the video series to revise their novels, click HERE.)

The 4 blogs to visit today:

Write Learn Create Connect
1st 10 Pages: 1st Impressions / Final Drafts
The Storyteller's Scroll
Mostly Fiction

For plot help and resources throughout the year

1)  The Plot Whisperer Workbook: Step-by-step Exercises to Help You Create Compelling Stories
2)  The Plot Whisperer: Secrets of Story Structure Any Writer Can Master
3)  The Plot Whisperer Book of Writing Prompts: Easy Exercises to Get You Writing.
  ~~~~~~~~
For as little as $10 a month, watch the videos as often as you wish for an entire year (and, lots of writers are finding PlotWriMo the exact right resource to help pre-plot for a powerful first draft. Knowing what to look for in a revision helps create a tighter first draft):


 ~~ View your story in an entirely new light. Recharge your energy and enthusiasm for your writing. 8 videos (5.5 hours)+ 30 exercises

01 December 2014

Day #1 -- Blog Tour for PlotWriMo: Revise Your Novel in a Month

When: Starting today and running daily through Friday, Dec. 5th

What: Blog Tour for PlotWriMo: Revise Your Novel in a Month offers tips and ideas for revising your story. Visit new blogs and meet new writers (we'd love you to tweet about your experience on the tour and use the hashtag #PlotWriMo).

Who: All writers interested in or needing help revising your stories, including writers word-drunk from NaNoWriMo.

Where: Today's 3 participating blogs, please visit and comment to enter to win an observation spot in an upcoming Office Hours.

Writing Classes for Kids and Adults
Ink and Angst Writers of Nefarious Plots
Rebecca Lacko - The Written Word
Taffy's Writings

Why: Revising a novel, memoir, screenplay can be a daunting prospect. PlotWriMo: Revise Your Novel in a Month offers tried and true methods that have worked for hundreds of writers (for more about PlotWriMo AND "ah ha" moments from writers who have or are currently viewing the video series, click HERE).

For plot help and resources throughout the year

1)  The Plot Whisperer Workbook: Step-by-step Exercises to Help You Create Compelling Stories
2)  The Plot Whisperer: Secrets of Story Structure Any Writer Can Master
3)  The Plot Whisperer Book of Writing Prompts: Easy Exercises to Get You Writing.
  ~~~~~~~~
For as little as $10 a month, watch the videos as often as you wish for an entire year (and, lots of writers are finding PlotWriMo the exact right resource to help pre-plot for a powerful first draft. Knowing what to look for in a revision helps create a tighter first draft):


 ~~ View your story in an entirely new light. Recharge your energy and enthusiasm for your writing. 8 videos (5.5 hours)+ 30 exercises