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Archive for August, 2017

August 21, 2017

The “Quest” Fiction Plot

A while back I read one of the most informative books on writing fiction that I ever read: TWENTY MASTER PLOTS AND HOW TO BUILD THEM by Ronald Tobias. Before reading the book, I was totally unaware of how many different kinds of plots a writer could contrive in his/her fiction work. I’ve used this book as one of my primary resources when I teach fiction workshops at writers’ conferences. This work by Tobias is packed with useful information for any writer of fiction desiring to improve his skills for writing an I-can’t-put-the-book-down manuscript.

Last time I posted here, I defined “plot” and looked at the difference between a plot-driven book and a character-driven book. Today we’ll look at the first plot Ronald Tobias defined in his book:

PLOT # 1

QUEST

Samples of this type of fiction:

The Wizard of Oz

Lord of the Rings

The Grapes of Wrath

Jason and the Argonauts

 

As you write your story, keep the following points in mind:

  1. A quest plot should be about a search for a person, place, or thing; develop a close parallel between your hero’s intent and motivation and what he’s trying to find.
  2. Your plot should move, visiting many people and places. Don’t just move your character around as the wind blows. Movement should be contingent on your plan of cause and effect. (You can make the journey seem like there’s nothing guiding it— making it seem casual—but in fact it is causal.)
  3. Consider bringing your plot full circle geographically. Your hero frequently ends up in the same place where she started.
  4. Make your character different at the end of the story as a result of his/her quest. This story is about the character, who makes the search, not about the object of the search itself. Your character is in the process of changing during the story. How does he/she change and why?
  5. The object of the journey is wisdom, which takes the form of self-realization for the hero. This is often the process of maturation. It could be about a child who learns the lessons of adulthood, but it could also be about an adult who learns the lessons of life.
  6. Your first act should include a motivating incident, which starts your hero’s search. Don’t just launch into a quest; make sure your reader understands why your character wants to go on the quest.
  7. Your hero should have at least one companion. He must have interactions with other characters to keep the story from becoming too abstract or too interior. Your hero needs someone to bounce ideas off of, someone to argue with.
  8. Consider including a helpful character.
  9. Your last act should include your character’s discovery, which occurs either after giving up the search or after achieving it.
  10. What your character discovers is usually different from what he originally sought.

ALL INFORMATION COMPLIMENTS OF

Tobias, Ronald B (2011-12-15). 20 Master Plots (p. 189). F+W Media, Inc.. Kindle Edition.

 

Next time, we’ll have a look at PLOT #2: ADVENTURE

Happy writing!

 

Interested in Amish/Mennonite fiction?

Eli and Louellen Friesen’s marriage is on the rocks, and at the same time, both question their ordnung’s teachings of the way of salvation.

https://www.amazon.com/Louellen-Finds-True-Love-Snyder-ebook/dp/B01N18WW1C/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1502653855&sr=1-1&keywords=Louellen+Finds+True+Love

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August 14, 2017

Writers’ Tips for the Fiction Genre

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  is one of the best books I’ve ever read to help understand the fiction genre and to improve my own writing. 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 the next series of blog posts come 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:

  1. A plot is organic, the skeleton that holds the story together, the scaffold, the superstructure, the chassis, the frame, a force, a process.
  2. Every plot is different, but each has its roots in a pattern of unified behavior and action.
  3. It’s a blueprint of human behavior.
  4. 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?)
  5. TENSION fuels the plot.
  6. 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.

  1. Don’t have a STATIC character. He/she must be different at the end than he/she was in the beginning.
  2. Put your character in a SITUATION.
  3. 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 three times to overcome an obstacle.)
  4. MOTIVATION: explaining why the major characters to what they do: ACTION VS. REACTION

So…there are some introductory tips from Ronald Tobias’s excellent book 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.

Happy writing!

Marsha

 

Interested in Amish/Mennonite fiction?

Eli and Louellen Friesen’s marriage is on the rocks, and at the same time, both question their ordnung’s teachings of the way of salvation.

https://www.amazon.com/Louellen-Finds-True-Love-Snyder-ebook/dp/B01N18WW1C/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1502653855&sr=1-1&keywords=Louellen+Finds+True+Love

PLEASE POST A REVIEW. A FAVORABLE REVIEW IS AS GOOD AS A SALE FOR US AUTHORS.

 

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IT’S OVER! 

Writers' Theatre 

Thursday Evening’s Writers’ Theatre

BUT PLAN FOR MCWC 2018!

The 2017 Montrose Christian Writers Conference is history. I can’t believe it’s three weeks ago already that the conference was underway. What a blessing this year’s conference was to me as the director. Without the help of my “committee,” I wouldn’t have been able to pull this off. Thank you, gals. You are deeply appreciated. (And you know who you are!)

I want to personally thank Jim Fahringer and his wonderful staff for providing such an excellent place at the Montrose Bible Conference Center, including fine meals and homey rooms. Without exception, folks say the beautiful setting and family atmosphere are tops.

I also want to thank each faculty member, who made this year’s conference one of the best we’ve ever had. We’ve had almost 100% of positive feedback from the conferees, who gleaned from the faculty’s expertise.

Thank you, Conrad and Donna Krieger, talented musicians, who once again provided spirit-filled Praise and Worship times every morning to start our days with thoughts about our wonderful God.

Then, I want to thank each conferee who sacrificed a lot of money and time to attend this conference. Besides paying tuition, room, and board, the conferees opened their hearts to the needs of others by donating used books for our Budget Book Sale. I’m guessing we had at least 300 books to sell. Along with those book donations, faculty and conferees “purchased” dozens and dozens of those used books and many MCWC can coolers to support the General Scholarship Fund. We raised over $500 to help future conferees with their finances as well as donating $350 to the kitchen staff, many who work as volunteers or get paid minimal salaries.

When our conference closed on Friday, July 21st, we always end with a short praise and worship time, a challenge from a faculty member, and a circle of friendship and prayer. It’s not unusual for conferees and faculty members to part with tears in their eyes, pledging to return next July. Once anyone attends MCWC, he/she is considered “family,” and we look forward to seeing each one every year.         The closing on Friday morning: our circle of friendship, singing, and prayer.

I overheard one gal say “just had to come back next year” and she planned to save all her loose change to put toward next year’s expenses. That’s an excellent idea for those who have to “count every penny” in their budget. In a year’s time, quite a few dollars can mount up.

If you’ve never been to our Montrose Christian Writers Conference, please consider joining us next year. Mark the dates on your calendar: July 22nd to the 27th. I promise you won’t be sorry.

For you who’ve been there for 15 years or just for one year, I look forward, Lord willing, to seeing you again in 11 short months! God bless your writing endeavors over the next year.

P.S. Whether you attended or not, you might enjoy looking at my Pinterest 2017 MCWC Board with over 100 photos of the conference’s faculty, conferees, and events:

If you weren’t at the conference and would like to know what you missed, check out the conference’s details:

http://www.montrosebible.org/OurEvents/tabid/113/page_550/1/eventid_550/58/Default.aspx

Marsha, Director

1 Corinthians 15:10

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