July 8, 2013
Today’s Writers’ Tips
Writers, we’re going to take a break for a while from featuring published authors and get back to some basics of good writing. I’ve just finished reading an excellent book, TWENTY MASTER PLOTS AND HOW TO BUILD THEM by Ronald Tobias. http://www.amazon.com/20-Master-Plots-Build-Them/dp/1599635372/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1373314000&sr=1-1 I am using this work as one of my primary resources in a few weeks when I teach a work-in-progress class at the Montrose Christian Writers Conference in Montrose, PA. http://www.google.com/url?sa=t&rct=j&q=&esrc=s&frm=1&source=web&cd=1&cad=rja&ved=0CDQQFjAA&url=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.montrosebible.org%2Fwriters.htm&ei=fRzbUfq9EqW60gHvxoDgAg&usg=AFQjCNE6eBHHGq2fy6n4wd_gCRGJQ4TYTA&sig2=mQTtDfODgvetvb5yGpd_Qg&bvm=bv.48705608,d.dmQ
This book by Tobias is packed with useful information for any writer of fiction, who desires to improve his skills for writing an appealing, can’t-put-the-book-down manuscript. All the tips in this series of blog posts comes from this book.
Today we’re going to start by reviewing the definition of plot,a plot-driven book, and a character-driven book. So if you’re been wanting to write good fiction, regardless of the age of your readership, take special note of the helpful tips in my next 20 or so blog posts.
DEFINITION OF PLOT:
- A plot is organic, the skeleton that holds the story together, the scaffold, the superstructure, the chassis, the frame, a force, a process.
- Every plot is different, but each has its roots in a pattern of unified behavior and action.
- It’s a blueprint of human behavior.
- It’s more than a chronicle of events. It answers WHY! (It has to be more than “Johnny hit his sister Susie.” WHY did he hit her?)
- TENSION fuels the plot.
- PLOT asks the question; the CLIMAX answers it.
DEFINITION OF A PLOT-DRIVEN BOOK: the mechanism of the story that is more important than the characters. The characters are there to make the plot happen.
DEFINITION OF A CHARACTER-DRIVEN BOOK: the mechanism of the story is less important than the characters.
- Don’t have a STATIC character. He/she must be different at the end than he/she was in the beginning.
- Put your character in a SITUATION.
- Use TRIANGLES: the relationship between character and plot. They make the strongest character combinations and are most common. Events happen in threes. (Example: the hero tries 3X to overcome an obstacle.)
- MOTIVATION: explaining why the major characters to what they do: ACTION VS. REACTION
So there are some introductory tips for you to ponder as you plan your work of fiction. Next time, we’ll share with you some pointers to help you write a plot that focuses on a quest or a goal the protagonist is aiming to achieve.
Enjoy the 11th story in my Snyder County Quilting Bee Short Story Series now listed as an e-story on Amazon:
Valerie’s Run-in with the Law
Mennonite teacher Valerie Hornberger loves teaching so much, she offers to help fourteen summer school students at the Maple Grove Mennonite School in Mapletown, PA. When fourth grader Justin Romig steals and lies, Valerie must follow the school’s disciplinary code and administer corporal punishment, the one facet of teaching she absolutely hates.
The very same evening of the discipline, Sheriff Jefferies and Officer Kraft show up at Valerie’s home with a formal written complaint from the Snyder County Children and Youth Services, accusing Valerie of child abuse. Despite Valerie’s plea that Justin received a “mere paddling,” the sheriff threatens Valerie. If she continues to use corporal discipline, the school could be closed, or her own children could be taken from her home.
Should Valerie continue to obey the Mennonite church’s edicts concerning the rearing of children or will she succumb to the pressure of the state and back down?