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Archive for the ‘Writing Tips’ Category

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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TEN REASONS WHY YOU SHOULD ATTEND A WRITERS’ CONFERENCE

              Two 2017 MCWC Faculty Members: Torry Martin + Carol Wedeven

  1. Your family loves what you’ve written, but now you’ll get the full scoop from editors and agents of how good your manuscript really is (or isn’t).
  2. You’ll learn how to properly submit your work to a publisher.
  3. You’ll discover that your high school English needs A LOT of brushing up.
  4. Words like “genre,” “royalty publishing,” “submission,” and “elevator pitch” will finally have meaning.
  5. You’ll have the opportunity to talk shop with best-selling authors.
  6. You’ll be able to attend dozens of workshops that will teach you all aspects of the writing/publishing business.
  7. You’ll be able to purchase “how-to-write” books at a reduced price that will help you hone your craft.
  8. You’ll be able to meet the editor or agent of your choice to show your work.
  9. You’ll make new writer friends who will encourage you by email or phone.
  10. You’ll leave with the determination to revise, revise, revise and get your work published.

Faculty Member:
Artist Dave Weiss

 

We just had a terrific week at the Montrose Christian Writers Conference. I’m sorry if you weren’t able to join us. Take a peek at what you missed and make plans to attend next year.

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

Marsha, Director

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Writers, Have You Ever Asked Yourself These Questions?

Writing for publication can sometimes be a lonely and discouraging career path to take. For the last 27 years, dozens of Montrose Christian Writers Conference faculty members have attempted to encourage writers to keep plugging on and to share with them how to become the writers God wants them to be. Too often folks with talent for writing give up too soon on their publishing dreams and quit right before they would have landed that contract.

If you’re a discouraged writer, the 2017 MCWC is just for you. If you’ve ever felt as if there was no hope for what you’ve written, you probably asked yourself some of the following questions. But there’s an answer (a title of a workshop) for every one of your concerns with the classes offered this year:

  1. How do I prepare my manuscript to submit to a publisher?   Formatting before Beginning
  2. How do I get rid of this annoying writers’ block? Three years is long enough!  21 Ways to Overcome Writers Block
  3. How can I change my short story into a drama?  Creating a Viable Stage Production
  4. Would I have a chance at winning a writing contest?  Writing for Guideposts Contests
  5. Will social media, especially a blog, help me sell books?  Blogging 101
  6. Why should I bother writing poetry? No one reads it anyhow.  The Art and Craft of Poetry
  7. Someone told me my characters are “flat” in my kids’ story. How can I fix them?   Putting Characters in Place
  8. Do I need to apply for a tax number to write? To sell my books at book signings?  Understanding the Business of Writing for Publication
  9. What questions should I ask the person for whom I’m writing a profile piece?  Writing the Profile Piece
  10. Is my devotional book different from the tons of devotionals out there already?   Writing Compelling Devotions
  11. Will anyone be interested in buying the book I’m writing?  Marketing for Writers Who Don’t Like to Market
  12. Do folks ever read Bible studies anymore?  Bible Studies That Sell

We could go on and on, telling you about the 40+ workshops offered at this year’s conference, but I think you get the idea. We’ll have practically all genres and pertinent issues about writing/publishing addressed at the conference.

The opening exercise is Sunday evening at 7:30 at the Montrose Bible Conference Center, Montrose, PA. And … as long as there are rooms available for lodging, it’s not too late to register! Even better, if all the rooms  are taken and you are close enough to commute, you can register anytime, even after the conference is underway!

Please check out all the of the classes and special perks available at http://www.montrosebible.org/OurEvents/tabid/113/page_550/1/eventid_550/58/Default.aspx

and register today! You’ll never be sorry!

Marsha, Director

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Our Writers Conference Has Classes for That!

(Eva Marie Everson teaching in 2015)

 

Writers, isn’t it time to get that manuscript ready for publication?

What have you written that you’d like to see published?

A NOVEL?

SHORT STORIES?

POETRY?

PROFILES?

PICTURE BOOKS?

DRAMA?

ARTICLES FOR CONTESTS?

DEVOTIONALS?

MAGAZINE ARTICLES?

FILM SCRIPTS?

BIBLE STUDIES?

WE HAVE CLASSES FOR ALL THOSE AND MORE AT THIS YEAR’S

MONTROSE CHRISTIAN WRITERS CONFERENCE!

(SOME OF THE CLASSES OFFERED)

Indie Publishing vs. Royalty Publishing. What’s New?

Why Drama?

Formatting before Beginning

Fiction: Character Building

21 Ways to Overcome Writers Block

Get the Most out of the Conference

The Art of Collaborative Writing

Conducting High Profile Interviews

Blogging 101

Creating a Viable Stage Production

Shock the Clock: Time Management

Marketing for Writers Who Don’t Like to Market

Seeing Through the Eyes of a Child

Powerful Sentence Structures

Fiction: Setting and Description

Write for your Life

Prayer in the Life of a Writer

Creative Blockbusters

Making your Fiction Matter

Writing for Parenting Magazines

Blogging 102

Format and Performance Know-how

Writing Compelling Devotions

No Market for your Book? What to Do

Putting Characters in Place

PUGS Specifics for Christian Writers

Writing for Guideposts and the Guideposts Contest

Graduation Time; What’s Next?

Bible Studies that Sell

Real “Artist-Ship”

Aspects of the Editing Process

Breaking into Anthologies

Social Media 101

Sharing the Fun of Drama

Column Writer as a Platform Builder

Peace in the Literary Storm

Writing for Picture: Magazine or Picture Book for Children?

Understanding the Business of Writing for Publication

Selling Personal Experience Short Stories

What’s an Edit?

Irresistible Queries and Proposals

Proofread with Excellence

Writing the Profile Piece

In two weeks, we’ll be at Montrose, but it’s not too late to register for the 2017 Montrose Christian Writers Conference, July 16th to the 21st. If you can’t come for the entire time, then sign up for a day or two of your choice.

Check all the details at http://www.montrosebible.org/OurEvents/tabid/113/page_550/1/eventid_550/58/Default.aspx

And register today!

Marsha, Director

 

 

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MORE PERKS AT THE 2017 MCWC

A Personal Word from the Director!

Three weeks from now, the 2017 Montrose Christian Writers Conference will be under way. Besides over 40 workshops, 4 Major Morning sessions, and 3 Work-in-Progress Seminars, there are numerous “perks” planned throughout the week. Just a few of them are:

  1. A Life-Changing Event: In 2001, I met Barbara Scott, who at that time was the acquisitions editor at Zonderkidz. Through that 15-minute meeting on the porch at the conference center, I received contracts to write the 8-book Keystone Stables Series, which is a best-seller (and still selling today!) You never know where your one-on-one meetings with an agent or editor might lead you. Take advantage of the opportunities at Montrose this year. (I acquired two additional contracts from other publishers at Montrose over the years as well.) Barbara will be with us again. She’s now an independent editor, but if you want the scoop on whether your manuscript is ready for publication, meet with her on the porch. She’ll give it to you straight!
  2. The Budget Book Sale! Every third year or so, we have a budget book sale, when faculty and conferees donate unwanted books. We then sell dozens, if not hundreds, of wholesome books of all genres at a much-reduced price. All the proceeds go to the scholarship funds. So raid your bookshelves and bring all those dusty books you don’t want anymore. Then bring some loose change and take a bagful of “new” used books home with you!
  3. Painting Class with Artist Dave Weiss: On Tuesday evening, Dave will teach a painting class. Every participant will have his/her own canvas, paints, and brushes to paint a picture that might have seemed impossible before the class started.
  4. Praise and Worship Time with Conrad and Donna Krieger: Every year, the attendees rate this half hour presentation and song time every morning as the highlight of the week. Conrad and Donna are gifted musicians, who lead us in a spiritually uplifting time of worship that starts every day on a God-honoring note.
  5. Writers’ Theatre on Thursday Evening: This is your time to shine. Bring a piece no longer than three minutes long and read it to an audience of your peers in a nostalgic setting with beautiful decorations by Ginny Merritt and dimmed lights with the spotlight on YOU.

So, this is just a sample of the “perks” the 2017 Montrose Christian Writers Conference will offer this year. It’s not too late to register, so go to http://www.montrosebible.org/OurEvents/tabid/113/page_550/1/eventid_550/58/Default.aspx

 and get your name on our conferee list. I’d love to meet you in a few weeks. Set your GPS to Montrose, PA, for July 16th!

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