Tag Archive | Writer’s Journey

April 7 – National Walk to Work Day

popcornToday is Caramel Popcorn Day, National Beer Day, National Walk to Work Day (since I work from home, this is an easy one for me!),  No Housework Day (YAY!), World Health Day, and the birthday of: William Wordsworth, Gabriela Mistral, Donald Barthelme

Tip: Listen to songs – the lyrics often tell a story all by themselves. Look up lyrics, especially to old songs, and see how succinctly they tell a story.

Thought: “In the confrontation between the stream and the rock, the stream always wins – not through strength, but by perseverance.” – H. Jackson Brown.

Teaser: What is one thing from your past that would completely embarrass you in the eyes of your friends and/or family? Write that into a scene for your character.

February 8

Tip: “Try and” vs. “try to”: the correct usage is “try to”. Don’t “try and” do something. You can try “to” do it, but not try and.

Thought: “See life as it is, but write about life as it might be.” – P. M. Martin

Teaser: Make a list of every place you’ve been in the past twenty-four hours. Describe each location in detail and the feelings associated with it. If you’ve not been anywhere, pick the last time you went somewhere and describe that. Now, put your character there.

January 29

Tip: Don’t use complex words when a simpler one will do. Just because you won the fifth grade spelling bee or read the entire dictionary doesn’t mean you need to use unusual words (unless it’s a character thing). Instead of: preowned automobile – used car; chemical dependency – drug addiction; correctional facility – prison. And so on. Use common words people will recognize. No, you don’t have to “dumb it down”, but you shouldn’t need a college degree to read a good story.

Thought: All you need is a blank piece of paper and a pencil – Seymour Mann (father of Erica Jong).

Teaser: This is National Puzzle Day. Puzzles come in all sizes, shapes and formats, from easy word-searches to furniture. Imagine you are in the business of creating puzzles and have to come up with something new. What would it be? How many pieces would it have? How big is it? Do you need tools to assemble or a dictionary to solve? Is there a prize for the first solver? Let your imagination puzzle the facts out.

Write the Novel #9: Structure

There are three sections of a story: Beginning (Act I), Middle (Act II), and End (Act III). Many writing teachers have broken these down into other parts such as scene/sequel, and more, but the basic structure remains the same: three acts.

If you write fantasy, paranormal, or science fiction, do yourself a favor and get the book: “The Writer’s Journey: Mythic Structure for Writers” by Christopher Vogler. It is based on Campbell’s “The Hero’s Journey” and is a fabulous way to learn about novel structure. If you don’t write in these genres, get the book anyway, you won’t be sorry.

Here are the tips in a nutshell. And no, I won’t go into detail. Mr. Vogler deserves the honor of being the best source for this information and I will not undermine his sales. 🙂

Campbell and Vogler break each act down into different parts. I will concentrate on Vogler’s interpretation here. His sections include:

Act I: Ordinary World, Call to Adventure, Refusal of the Call, Meeting with the Mentor, Crossing the first threshold

Act II: Tests, Allies, Enemies; Approach to the Inmost Cave; Ordeal; Reward

Act III: The road back, resurrection, return with the elixir

If you look at these through well-known stories, as he does, you can see where the breakdowns are. For instance, he uses the Star Wars movies as examples. We see Luke in his ordinary world with his uncle, he is called to adventure by Obi Wan, he refuses the call by insisting he has to help his aunt and uncle, he meets with his mentor (actually accepts that Obi Wan is his mentor) and crosses the first threshold by leaving the farm. He is tested, meets allies and enemies, goes through several ordeals, and gains the reward of being able to destroy the Death Star. He returns with his friends with new powers and a new life.

Simple, right?

Not exactly. It is simple when broken down to these basic units, but it can be decidedly difficult to write. However, by using Vogler’s approach, you may get a better grip on where things are going than if you just go forward with no plan at all.

You can also break the three act structure down into just scenes and sequels. A scene is nothing more than something that is happening. The sequel is what comes after that event. Each scene should contain a goal, a reason for that goal, and the conflict. What is happening in the scene? Why? What will happen if something goes wrong and your hero doesn’t achieve his/her goal in that scene? There has to be an event of some sort. It doesn’t have to be huge, it can be subtle and small, but there has to be a reason for it. The main character for that scene (does not have to be the main character of the story) should have to make a decision of some sort. What happens when s/he makes that decision? It should lead to consequences. This is your sequel. Then build from there. Each event should lead to the next and so on until the climax and end.

This is plotting.

For now, I’ll just leave you with these basics. I’ll go into more detail later on. But do yourself a favor and look for Vogler’s book. It is an excellent one.

Homework: Watch a movie. Or two or ten. Figure out the structure and apply it to the above. Can you figure out where each part happens?