1. Vagrant Tale

    Vagrant Tale Active Member

    Jul 2, 2016
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    VT's Progress Diary

    Discussion in 'Progress Journals' started by Vagrant Tale, Jul 3, 2016.

    This is neat, and I feel it will make me more accountable, which is something I seriously need.

    Today I am exhausted from a ton of physical labor and frantically catching up on my homework 2 hours before it was due, but I still found time to work towards my dream of being a published author.

    My current goal is to write 10 short stories based in the same universe as my larger novel that is yet unwritten. I feel this will help me connect to the setting a lot, and give me a lot of valuable practice that I am sorely needing in writing in general. As well, a short story is a much smaller undertaking, and thus I will feel more accomplishment having completed one than I would having completed yet another chapter in a novel I am not prepared to write.

    My problem now is choosing which of the 10 short stories to write first! I know eventually I will write them all, but I know there is only one perfect place to start. I'd ask for opinions on each story, however all of them are things I intend on publishing as well in some form, and thus do not wish to have the dreaded "self-published" label over them, so I cannot reveal them.

    Today I pulled out my old writing books and read them a bit, I compiled short summaries of all 10 of my short stories, wrote some alternate options for some of them, and reinstalled snowflake pro on my laptop. I read a little bit of one of my writing books in the bath, but I feel that the best way to proceed from here will be to just write. Perhaps I should gather information on writing short stories first? I've never worked on a short story before. I wonder if I should buy a book on writing those first?

    I'll figure out more to do tomorrow. As for tonight I can barely keep my eyes open.
    LinnyV likes this.
  2. Vagrant Tale

    Vagrant Tale Active Member

    Jul 2, 2016
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    Today I did some more work on the house, foaming the crawl space and setting the rest of the insulation down there, so that's all done. All that's left is the vapor barrier. I'm pretty tired, but I got a lot more stuff done today than yesterday.

    My goal today was to load up and to become a student, and that is what I've done. I have come up with a curriculum for myself, and today was my first day of action. I took a trip to Barnes & Noble and bought several books for myself (as well as 2 notebooks and a book on piano's and keyboards for my sister) and here now is my entire collection:

    1. The Art of War for Writers, by James Scott Bell
    2. Creating Characters, from the editors of Writer's Digest
    3. Write Great Fiction: Dialogue, by Gloria Kempton
    4. Write Great Fiction: Characters, Emotion & Viewpoint, by Nancy Kress
    5. Write Great Fiction: Plot & Structure, by James Scott Bell
    6. The 90-day novel, by Alan Watt
    7. Writing your novel from start to finish, by Joseph Bates
    8. Creative Writing Exercises for Dummies, by Maggie Hamand
    9. Writing Fiction for Dummies, by Randy Ingermanson and Peter Economy

    My plan is to read everything except for the 90-day novel and Writing your novel from start to finish first and take detailed notes, starting with Write Great Fiction: Plot & Structure. The Write Great Fiction books are a perfect place to start as a student, because they have writing exercises at the end that present an opportunity to use what I've learned.

    Since I already started reading tonight (even though I haven't finished the first chapter) the lessons I've learned (and noted in my notebook!) are the 6 things it takes to learn plot! They are:
    1) Get motivated!
    2) Try stuff
    3) Stay loose
    4) First get it written, then get it right
    5) Set a quota!
    6) Don't give up!

    I also learned that Plot > Prose, it doesn't matter how great you say something, its a good story that creates a great novel, and nothing else

    There are also questions about plot that every reader will ask when reading, and these questions must be answered satisfactorily, wonderfully, and surprisingly
    -What is this story about?
    -Is anything happening?
    -Why should I keep reading?
    -Why should I care?

    I also began to learn the LOCK system, but only got to C, so I will wait to post that in my journal until tomorrow.

    Since I started late today and worked so hard, I decided to stop at page 12, but tomorrow I will finish the first and second chapters, and note the exercises in my notebook and this journal. Until tomorrow!
    LinnyV likes this.
  3. Vagrant Tale

    Vagrant Tale Active Member

    Jul 2, 2016
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    More work on the house, even today, had to bleach the crawl space I-beams because they had mold on them, had to wear a gas mask and safety goggles and knee pads, it was really not fun, especially because my knees and back are horribly sore and painful from the rest of the weekend, but thankfully we got it all done down there in about 5 hours of spraying, then I pulled nails out of a huge stack of lumber until 7pm...I was pretty pooped but I managed to do some catch up reading and note taking from yesterday.

    Today's topic of study was still within Writing Great Fiction: Plot & Structure by James Scott Bell. Today I studied some nuts and bolts of plot, and in particular, the 3-act structure. But before I elaborate on what I had learned from TODAY's reading, I am compelled to finish what I started with YESTERDAY's reading. Specifically, the "L.O.C.K" system, which I had previously left unfinished.

    The LOCK system is simple, but a great guidepost to learn for beginning writers. It stands for Lead, Objective, Confrontation, Knockout and dictates exactly what needs to happen and when

    For Lead, it is the protagonist, who must connect with the reader in Act 1 as soon as possible
    For Objective, it is through the doorway into act 2, it is the larger goal that the Lead must achieve
    For Confrontation, it is the obstacles put in the way of the Lead and the Objective, Confrontation is act 2 and only act 2, this is the meat of the story, Confrontation does not happen in act 3 because
    For Knockout, that's reserved for act 3, when the Lead meets the antagonist and knocks them to the mat and down for the count, people read stories to get a satisfying conclusion, and what I took from the lesson of Knockout is that it is never a good idea to jeopardize a satisfying Knockout for a twist ending or a cliffhanger

    There it is, the LOCK system

    Now for TODAY'S lessons, I learned a little bit of a lot, obviously to plant the seeds for more info in these to come. I briefly learned about setting, and how people love to hear about the working lives of other people, but NEVER in a typical way. The best way is to TEACH the reader's something about the profession you are displaying, either with research, training yourself, or interviewing an expert. DO NOT SHOW CHARACTERS PRACTICING A PROFESSION IN A TYPICAL WAY! Dig deeper and find original details for the reader to admire.

    I also learned a little about the basics of dialogue, which should either a) create original characters or b) move the plot along. If the dialogue does neither, it doesn't belong in the story period. Also "A good story is life, with all the dull parts taken out." ~Alfred Hitchcock

    A great way to remember how to reliably write a plot is to remember a short story about Robin Hood, "Robin Hood went writing. A bad guy came. They fought. He won." Everything in this short story is an exact rule of plotting. Robin Hood is established as the lead and he goes riding. A bad guy comes. That's act 1. They fought. That's act 2. He won. That's act 3.

    A story can have all the parts of a great story, but without a plot to present them to the reader, they won't be read. Structure assembles the parts of the story to make them accessible to the readers.

    Another reiteration (because that's how I take notes!) Is:

    We are confronted with a problem .We react. This is Act 1
    We spend the greater part of our time figuring out how to solve the problem. This is Act 2
    After all of that hopefully we get insights & answers to the problem. This is Act 3

    Some various notes on each act and some notes on what goes in each

    Act 1 (beginnings)
    -presents the story world
    -establish the tone of the whole story
    -compel the reader to continue, why should they care?
    -introduce the opposition

    Act 2 (middles)
    -deepen the character relationships
    -keep readers caring about what happens
    -set up the final battle

    Act 3 (ends)
    -tie up all loose ends
    -give a sense of resonance, sense of something beyond the story and ending

    I also studied the mythic structure, and learned about how it is incredibly successful, and it completely works with the 3-act structure

    The final thing I ended on was Doorways. A doorway is part of the story that moves the Lead from one act to the other. I will learn more about these tomorrow. For tonight I'm pooped!

    Until tomorrow!
  4. Vagrant Tale

    Vagrant Tale Active Member

    Jul 2, 2016
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    No construction work today, but I was just informed I'm REALLY gonna have to bust a move on saturday, which I'm not looking forward too. I only went to class today, came home, and started work on my midterm project, which is a doozy.

    But I still found time to work towards my dream! Today I continued reading from my current book about plot and structure, and completed the lesson on doorways. It wasn't as packed as the lessons yesterday, but here's what I learned about doorways.

    A doorway is an event that moves the story from one act to another. In a 3-act story, there are 2 doorways. One to go from Act-1 to Act-2, the other to go from Act-2 to Act-3. An important thing to note is that the doorway from Act-1 to Act-2 is NOT the inciting incident. From the doorway, Act-2 doesn't begin until the Lead is actually locked in battle now with the opposition. The inciting incident happens in Act-1, and may or may not involve the Lead yet battling with the opposition.

    The second doorway from Act-2 to Act-3 is the point at which the Lead is forced into the final confrontation with the opposing forces.

    The next lesson I learned was a doozy, and even though I read it all the way through, I feel it wasn't as necessary, due to the subject matter. It was coming up with plot ideas...which I have such a surplus of at this time that I won't really need to dive into this for quite some time I feel. I will review it once again when I am actually outlining my novel in the future after the 10 short stories are finished to see if I can add some details.

    Until tomorrow!
  5. Vagrant Tale

    Vagrant Tale Active Member

    Jul 2, 2016
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    I thought I didn't have much to do today besides an interview for a part-time job (which didn't pan out due to the employer's inability to schedule me in a way as to give me 9am-1pm available for classes on Monday, Tuesday, and Thursday) but I ended up running around almost all day, but at about 8pm I sat down to read some more into my plot and structure book, and I ended up getting through the entire chapter in one sitting! So today's lessons are:

    Write who you are, not what you know

    Beginning Strong
    Act 1 has several tasks to perform
    -get the reader hooked
    -establish a bond between the reader & the Lead
    -present the story world; the time and the immediate context
    -establish the general tone
    -compel the reader to move onto act 2
    -introduce the opposition

    Opening lines
    -give the name of a character
    -something dangerous or ominous is about to happen
    -give a sense of motion from the start
    -static descriptions worked in the past, but readers of today are impatient, so start with a character in motion!
    Stir up the waters!

    Some of the "hooks" I learned

    Action hook-medias res, start in the middle of something! Or dialogue with conflict, it is the same as immediate action!
    Raw emotion hook- bond with the reader via a deep emotion right away
    Look-back hook- a narrator is about to tell a story, suggest it is not to be missed
    Attitude- first person narration only

    Some lessons about prologues
    -used to entice the reader into chapter 1
    - does not HAVE to introduce the Lead
    - eventually has to connect to the main plot (not subplots)
    - prolgues are used primarily as an action hook, a frame story, and as a teaser

    Action prologues
    -start with a big scene!
    -usually involve death
    -sets up the stakes right away
    -hovers over the entire story
    -make the scene big enough to justify the prologue
    -keep it short
    -end with trouble, no resolution
    -tie in with the plot

    Framing a story
    -view of a character about to look back
    -establish the tone & feeling over the whole story
    -make it good reading, not just a dry telling
    -show how the events are affecting the character NOW

    The teaser
    -rarely used
    -present a scene that will happen later
    -choose the same wording, or rework it a bit
    -stop short of the resolution

    Establishing a bond with the Lead is vital right away and throughout the entire story
    -the stronger the characters the better the plot will seem

    Dynamics of the Bond, there are 4 dynamic aspects to the bond with the Lead
    1) Identification
    2) Sympathy
    3) Likability
    4) Inner conflict

    I'll go over each individually
    1) Identification
    -the greater the reader ID's with the Lead, the greater the intensity of the plot experience
    -means "the Lead is like US"
    -the Lead appears to be a real human being
    -all people are:
    a)trying to make it in the world
    b) a little fearful at times
    c) not perfect
    -the Lead needs normal human flaws
    -what does your Lead do and think that makes her just like most people?
    ^^find these and readers will warm to the Lead^^
    -having normal human flaws is extremely important to heroic Leads, think of Indiana Jones & his fear of snakes

    2) Sympathy
    -intensifies the readers emotional investment in the Lead
    -even with negative qualities
    -there are 4 primary ways to establish sympathy
    a)Jeopardy- put the Lead in physical or emotional jeopardy
    b)Hardship- Lead faces misfortune not of their own making
    ^^don't let them whine about it, have them take steps to overcome the Hardship
    c)The Underdog- facing long odds
    d)Vulnerability- a Lead who could be crushed at any time

    3) Likability
    -simply does likable things
    a)does favors for people
    b)witty in conversation
    c)supportive & engaging
    d)not selfish
    e)someone we like to be around
    f)think about who YOU like
    ^^incorporate into Lead^^
    g)doesn't take self too seriously
    h)cares about others without calling attention to self
    -Don't try too hard to make a character likable, it can backfire
    -you can write about unlikable Leads if you compensate in other areas, like power

    4) Inner Conflict
    -characters who are sure of what they do & plunge ahead without fear are BORING
    -bring doubts of a character to the surface
    -battle between 2 voices, reason vs. passion or passion vs. passion
    -many times its fear vs. duty/honor/principle/etc

    Presenting the story world
    -What is life like for the Lead?
    -get a sense of life & routine

    Set the tone
    -a seriously novel can have comic relief
    -readers want consistency in tone
    -variety is a good thing

    "Don't warm up your engines." "Start your story from the first sentence." -Jack M Bickham
    -3 motifs that stall your story on the first page:
    a) excessive description without motion, action, or a character, if you must describe something at the start, weave it into motion with a character
    b) backward looks, don't frontload, it feels like stalling
    c) no threat, give the opening a disturbance quickly

    -all of Act 1 exists to move the reader to Act 2, because Act 1 has given:
    a)a compelling Lead
    b)whom they bond with
    c)and who's world has been disturbed
    And when the Lead passes into the first doorway (from Act 1 to Act 2) we know who or what the opposition is, although it is fine for the opposition to be mysterious, and make the opposition stronger than the Lead

    Handling Exposition
    -exposition is bad in narrative portions
    -dreadful in dialogue
    -be creative about the delivery
    -can work in narration and dialogue in very short bursts
    -don't ever start with exposition

    Rules of Exposition
    1) Act first, explain later, start with a character in motion, drop little bits of exposition as you go along
    2) When you explain, do the iceberg! Don't tell everything about the character's past history or situation, give the 10% that's necessary to understand what's going on, and leave the 90% hidden and mysterious below the surface, withhold things until its necessary to convey them
    3) Set information inside confrontation! One of the best ways to let out information is within a scene of intense conflict, using a character's thoughts or words to convey

    -Dialogue is a form of action
    After this point I read 4 pages of examples of strong openings from various authors and books

    Whew! Good thing I took such good notes! That was a very intense lesson today! I think tonight I'm going to start writing one of my short stories after I take a bit of a break, I think I've earned that last brownie in the kitchen :)

    Until tomorrow!
  6. Vagrant Tale

    Vagrant Tale Active Member

    Jul 2, 2016
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    Well, it's only been a couple of hours since my last entry, and I consider it the same night even though TECHNICALLY its the next day, but I'm really happy! Tonight I took everything I learned and I started the first short story...and it went AMAZINGLY well! I kept the lessons in mind I had learned, I wrote myself and who I am, and it was EXTREMELY easy to write the first scene! It's only 918 words, but it was an entire scene! This is a really big deal for me, because I haven't written in so long, and just getting halfway through a scene was always so much trouble, but I feel like using what I learned made this super easy, and I feel like I could continue easily. I'm going to conserve this feeling, and hold it in so that I can get familiar with it, and invoke it when I need it in the future. Tomorrow I'll write another scene in this story in addition to my lessons! From now on, that's my daily goal!

    Until tomorrow FOR REALS this time!
  7. Vagrant Tale

    Vagrant Tale Active Member

    Jul 2, 2016
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    Okay, this is my actual entry for today. Did some more physical work today, went to class, mashed out my homework, and I'm going to get up super early tomorrow to run my sister's poor dog to the vet to get her leg checked again to see how its healing. I feel so guilty every time I leave her there. Poor baby. But the vet says she is super good and very sweet when she's there.

    But onto writing news! Today I studied the Middles of a book, which is usually Act 2, but not exclusively.

    For Act 2, the idea is to write scenes that: stretch the tension, raise the stakes, keep readers worried, build toward Act 3 in a way that seems inevitable

    One of the best ways to make Act 2 compelling is to have Death hanging over the Lead
    -Death doesn't have to be physical, it can be psychological or professional as well
    -psychological death, if the protag doesn't get the objective, he will die inside, a psychological death can even lead to a physical (such as by suicide)
    -professional death, keep the reader worried about what the Lead can lose

    Opposition characters
    -doesn't have to be a villain
    -just has to have a reason to stop the Lead
    -its recommended to make it a person, but it doesn't HAVE to be
    -if its a group of people, select a leader
    -make the opposition STRONGER than the Lead
    -flip around and make yourself love the opposition, this will greatly improve your ability to write a good opposition

    But the most important part of today's learnings I feel was about Adhesive
    The Adhesive is basically the "plot glue" that holds the Lead and Opposition in contact with one another and prevents the Lead or the Opposition from just walking away
    -Why can't the Lead just walk past the opposition and realize her objective?
    -any strong relationship or circumstance that holds people together is valid
    -the Lead cannot walk away, and the adhesive MUST be strong enough to place him in jeopardy
    -there needs to be a strong reason for the Lead to stick around to keep the characters together
    -Ideally, carefully select and Objective that is essential to the well-being of the Lead, and an opposition with an equally valid reason to stop the Lead, adhesive will be self-evident!

    I must find a reason why the Lead and Opposition cannot withdraw from action!

    After this point in the story, its all about recording various scenes of confrontation, most ending in some sort of setback for the Lead, forcing her to analyze her situation anew and take some other action toward her objective.
    -Think of the middle as a series of increasingly intense battles
    -sometimes the Lead will be out of action to regroup, bust most of the time she will be fighting toward her OBJECTIVE
    This is the heart of the novel

    I learned a bit about adhesive types, but I am terribly sleepy now, and dozed off twice while typing what I already have. Since I haven't quite finished the chapter tonight, I'll finish it tomorrow and include it in my entry tomorrow night.

    Until tomorrow!
  8. Vagrant Tale

    Vagrant Tale Active Member

    Jul 2, 2016
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    Whew what a day, I am so exhausted, its not even 9:30pm and I'm quite ready to pass out. I am absolutely swamped with homework this weekend, with a midterm due, an assignment due tomorrow night, and literally 5 chapters of reading due by Monday. But I still found time to do my studying of writing tonight! And I will pick up the pace tomorrow!

    Tonight was an extension of what I left off on last night, with the lessons being focused around the middle, starting with tension stretching again, this time the emotional tension stretching
    -a scene doesn't have to involve physical peril to have tension worth stretching
    -trouble can be emotional as well-
    -don't make things easy for the Lead
    -play up the Lead's doubts and anxieties
    -physical descriptions of emotional tension is great

    Some questions to produce raw material for emotional tension stretching:
    1) what is the worst thing from INSIDE that can happen to my character?
    hint: look at the character's fears
    2) what is the worst information the character can receive?
    3) have I set up enough depth of emotion for readers before this scene?
    hint: we need to care about a character BEFORE we care about their problems

    Stretching the big and the small
    -stretch tension as much as possible in the first draft, just revise it all later
    -a novel can only contain a few big scenes, so save them, be conservative
    -go mining on each scene to try and uncover things, you might strike gold

    Raising the stakes
    -you can't just choose any old plot development
    -WHO cares?
    -is there enough going on to make readers care about what happens?
    -what does the Lead stand to lose?
    -3 aspects of stakes to consider:
    a) plot
    b) character
    c) society

    Plot stakes
    -commercial fiction needs to have large stakes
    -a threat from OUTSIDE
    -can be raised by sending over stronger opposition against the Lead
    -ask these questions:
    a) what physical harm can come to my Lead? how far can I take that threat?
    b) what new forces can I send against my Lead?
    c) is there a professional death at stake?

    And that's as far as I got for tonight, the next part looks like a looooot of information, and I'm sooooo tired, but even if I only take baby steps everyday (like today) if I never stop, I'll eventually reach my goal : )

    Until tomorrow!
  9. Vagrant Tale

    Vagrant Tale Active Member

    Jul 2, 2016
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    7/9/201 6

    Sooooo much homework! Also my job that I had quit screwed me over some more, so today I wrestled with a lot of anxiety. I have to find a part time job within the next 2 weeks in order to pay rent next month...or even my car insurance...or eat. No pressure! I only have $1000 left to survive, so on Monday I have to really get in gear to find some cash. I wanted to FREAK out about it earlier, but I'm trying to employ those critical thinking skills I've been learning in college, and instead am focusing on a solution instead of the problem. And even with all of this, I still managed to get 2 homework assignments done and start work on my midterm (which is due tomorrow!)

    No pressure! And after all of this, I still was able to find a bit of time to work towards my dream of becoming a writer! I didn't get in much today, but I finally finished the amazingly long chapter 5, which at this point has taken me 3 entire entries. It was like 30 pages long! Full of important and specific information too! Good thing I took notes on everything, but apparently the Middles (or Act 2) is the hardest part of a novel, so I think it was worth spending extra time on. So here are the notes I took:

    Continuing with raising stakes, the next stakes that can be raised are Character Stakes
    -What goes on INSIDE a character can be just as important as what goes on OUTSIDE
    -in literary, the stress is usually inside instead of outside
    -what problem is big enough to make readers care?
    -inner world is an opportunity for commercial novellists to add more dimension
    -by raising the inner stakes
    -sharpen the horns of dilemma! like a BULL FIGHT!
    3 questions to ask about character stakes:
    1) how can things get more emotionally wrenching for my Lead?
    2) is there someone the Lead cares about who can get caught up in the trouble?
    3) are there dark secrets from the past that can be revealed?

    Societal stakes
    -something happening in society that raises the stakes (like war, war always raises stakes)
    3 questions to ask about societal stakes:
    1) what are the social aspects of the story that swirl around the characters?
    2) are they dealing with some huge issue? If not, can you find one?
    3) what other characters can line up on either side?
    -get to the next level of stakes!
    -create a list of things that could go wrong for the character
    -stretch myself!
    -create a stakes outline!

    How to energize a lethargic Middle
    -it happens to the best writers
    -suddenly things start to crawl
    -a few ways to pump life into the plot:
    1) analyze the stakes
    2) strengthen the adhesive
    3) add another layer of complications
    4) add another character-one that will make the Lead's life that much harder
    5) add another subplot-use sparingly, romantic, shadow, family
    6) push on through the wall!-writer's block and fear-tips for getting through THE WALL:
    -take a day off from writing
    -find a peaceful place to be alone
    -spend 30 minutes in quiet contemplation
    -do something fun
    -fall asleep reading a favorite writer
    -force out 300 words the next day, seat of the pants, #yolo
    -push through THE WALL!

    My first draft is NEVER as bad as I thought it was at THE WALL!

    Trimming an overweight middle
    1) combine or cut characters
    -characters with overlapping purposes
    -are there too many characters on the Lead's side?-novels stress opposition
    -if I love a minor character too much, give them their own book, don't let them overstay in this one

    2) absorb subplot
    -does this subplot add to the mainplot?-if not, combine the best parts of the subplot into the mainplot

    3) trim the dullness
    -took into my scenes:
    -is there enough conflict?
    -is there toomuch talk without tension?
    -are the reaction scenes lasting too long?
    -is there any reason for the editor to put it down? fix that!

    Act 2 is the biggest challenge, lay a solid foundation with the LOCK system and use the lessons in this chapter and I'll be creating a plot that works!

    Well, that chapter was a doozy! The next chapter is on endings, but I'm not sure if I should do that or scenes first. Probably just do them in order, huh? Anyway, I'm going to work on my midterm before bed so that I have less to do tomorrow (since that's when its due).

    Until tomorrow!
  10. Vagrant Tale

    Vagrant Tale Active Member

    Jul 2, 2016
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    Today wasn't a super productive day beyond schoolwork. I had to finish my midterm project today (APA citing is HORRIBLE) and had to read four chapters of my HVAC book. Talk about information overload. But I had some excess time, and decided to spend it studying endings. I'm nowhere NEAR doing my ending, but I decided to read my book in order, yeah? So here's today's lesson about endings!

    -a weak ending can ruin an otherwise great book
    -a strong ending can redeem even a mediocre book
    -the ending is how a writer makes a career
    -great endings do 2 things:
    1) it feels perfect for the kind of novel it is
    2) it surprises the reader (not feeling as if they've seen it before)
    -a novelist is like a plate-spinner at a carnival
    -lots of plates spinning (act 2) and then safely put down with style! (act 3!)
    -get them down in a way that's not predictable
    -I don't want readers thinking, "I've seen this."

    -looks like the Lead is about to lose!
    -Lead comes back with a vengeance!
    -maintain the tension
    -readers like to see a decisive victory over the opposition

    Adding the "Ah!" and "Uh-oh!"
    -you get when the main story action is wrapped up
    -after the knockout
    -closure to the Lead's personal issue

    -sense of foreboding, a shadow over the end

    Making basic endings complex
    -the Lead gets what he wants? its bad!
    -the Lead doesn't get what he wants? its good!
    -ambiguous endings must cause strong emotion

    -give up a desire for the greater good
    -final battle-hero has to sacrifice his own well-being, he's probably going to lose

    Twist ending
    -plant the seeds early

    Tying up loose ends
    -have others read the manuscript

    last-page resonance
    -go out poetically


    Tomorrow's the big one I want to be at! It's chapter 7: scenes! I'm pretty excited for it, because its exactly where I want to be. I still have so many books to go though! I have class tomorrow and a pressing issue of getting rent money, so it will be my reward at the end of the day for busting my butt.

    Until tomorrow!
  11. Vagrant Tale

    Vagrant Tale Active Member

    Jul 2, 2016
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    Today was an exhausting day, and I'm relieved to finally be done with it. I have sooooo much to do before Saturday, and my finals for my first mod are on Monday so I have to study for that, so I'm taking it easy on the writing. But I refuse to let it be on a standstill! This may actually work in my favor, due to the fact that in my writing self-class, I am learning about scenes, which are SUPER important and SUPER complex, and if there's anything I NEED to get right, it's scenes. So I am going to do this chapter over the next 1-3 days and be very thorough.

    So today's lesson on scenes!
    -A scene is a fictional unit
    -if the scenes related somehow, you have a novel!
    -unforgettable scenes have something fresh
    -don't worry about getting them perfect the first time, just go back and change the dull parts later
    -one good way to create an unforgettable scene is to intensify the clash
    -2 characters oppose each other, they have the strongest reason to do so

    4 Chords of a scene
    -scenes do 4 things:
    2 Major Chords: 1) action 2) reaction
    2 Minor Chords: 1) setup 2) deepening

    major dominates, minor just chimes in

    That's where I stopped for the night. To be perfectly honest, I didn't really want to do any studying at all, I'd rather have just put in Bladerunner or Deadpool and have gone to sleep by now, but I feel that it is especially important to make SOME progress on days where I really don't want to do anything at all. Even when I am the biggest obstacle, there's no stopping me from achieving my dreams of being an author!

    Until tomorrow!
  12. Vagrant Tale

    Vagrant Tale Active Member

    Jul 2, 2016
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    I had class today, and when I got home I did 7 homework assignments, with my last one being huge and complicated and due by Saturday at midnight. I have my finals for my HVAC class on Monday, and I've been doing homework since 2pm (it's 10:30pm now) sheesh I'm exhausted...god what I'd give for a beer, but all I have is coffee.

    My brain is pretty much friend, and I'm really ready to just go to sleep so that I can get an early start tomorrow and look for a part-time job. But I still found a little bit of time to work on my lessons on scene writing, although I started to fall asleep so I cut it short since I wasn't really absorbing much. But I took some notes, and I still put in the time. As long as I put in the time every single day, it is inevitable that I will get to the end!

    So what I got through today continued after the 4 chords of a scene from yesterday into Action:
    -happens when a character does something in order to attain his main objective
    ^^this is a scene purpose^^
    -scene purpose may be anything that is a step towards achieving the story goal
    -scene needs conflict or it will be dull
    -commercial fiction will feel like mostly action scenes

    -how a Lead feels emotionally when something (usually bad) happens to him
    -how do they feel about it?
    -what are they going to do about it?
    -when he figures out what to do, I can write another action scene
    -a literary novel is mostly reaction, due to it being more about inner life
    -reaction is often done in beats

    Placing the reaction beat
    -can put a reaction beat in the middle of an action scene so we know how the character is feeling

    I'm really exhausted, I think this is me at rock-bottom, but even on days like this I will make SOME kind of progress...wish me luck on finding work tomorrow, since it's the only day I really have to do that! Tomorrow I'll get more through this lesson, and hopefully absorb a bit more than today.

    Until tomorrow!
  13. Vagrant Tale

    Vagrant Tale Active Member

    Jul 2, 2016
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    Sister lost her job today, which means that we can't afford to live...spent the entire day looking for work with her, made her a resume and had it printed out at the UPS store. Still following up on my own employment, but as it stands we can't afford to live. Had to ask my mom for toilet paper, shut off the cable today, no food except for some spaghetti o's in the cupboard and some crackers...man I'm so hungry. I still have a massive project to do tomorrow, and class with another homework assignment, so I'm going to get home tomorrow and help my sister apply for all 9 nearby financial institutions, then try to at least get my assignment done. I'm so worried about what's going to happen to us.

    I didn't get much done today, but I still got something. It's kind of shameful, but I'm so tired and hungry...I just want to go to sleep. I'll drink two glasses of water before I go to sleep, maybe I won't feel so hungry, long enough to fall asleep at least.

    Today's lesson was pretty short, but it was about Setups. Setups (or Beats, as they are sometimes called) are scenes that are needed to setup the plot or characters. From my notes:

    -must occur for later scenes to make sense
    -all novels have a certain amount of setup
    -have to know who the Lead is
    -what he does
    -why he does it
    -we have to see why he gets into the predicament he's in throughout the book
    -there may need to be setup beats throughout the course of the story
    -build a minor problem into a setup (minor chord)

    that's all I got out of it. I'm kind of disappointed in myself, but at least I'm still moving forwards, even if its slow right now with all of my worries, overdoses of homework, and general life problems.

    Until tomorrow.
  14. Vagrant Tale

    Vagrant Tale Active Member

    Jul 2, 2016
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    Today was better than yesterday! I knocked out my new assignment during class, so all I have left is my huge report due by Saturday night. I got a call from the Anchorage School District for a student nutrition assistant job I applied for, and my interview is tomorrow at 1pm (I'm so nervous!)! I put up an ad on craigslist last night for some cheap handiman work, and got two hits, so I made $100 today after I got out of class, cleaning one person's basement and house and moving some things, and then went to another person's house and washed 5 cars and cleaned their garage, so I took my sister grocery shopping. We also both went down to an employment agency, and although they didn't have anything for part-timers, they did have some things for my sister, which is great.

    I have to get up in 6 and a half hours to take her dog to the vet to have her leg checked up on (she broke it a few weeks ago), then get ready for my interview.

    So again, not much progress today because it was so busy and I have to get up super early...but as always, I will always do -something- no matter how small to achieve my dreams of being a published author. Today's lesson was on Deepening.

    Deepening is a technique of taking a detour out of the narrative to allow something to unfold that adds dimension to the characters or setting. Such as a conversation two characters have that has nothing to do with the plot, but makes sense for the characters to have (and will probably make the reader laugh). The trick is that Deepening is like adding spice to a food...you can't overdo it.

    The next thing I learned (notice this isn't a lesson) is that a scene is NOT a summary of past events. A narrative summary should ONLY be used to get form scene-to-scene faster, and not really for anything else. Trying to use a narrative summary as an information dump is not a good idea.

    Anyway, that's all I have for today...things have been pretty rough lately, but I won't ever stop, even if I am slowed down at the moment.

    Until tomorrow!
  15. Vagrant Tale

    Vagrant Tale Active Member

    Jul 2, 2016
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    My interview went okay, until I realized I had to do a math test! I was totally unprepared, so I'm pretty confident I flunked it. Oh well. I got another call for another interview somewhere else today, so I'm going to call them back tomorrow.

    Today I was just soooo busy trying to find work, then decided to go hiking with my sister and her husband (while playing pokemon go of course, all three of us) and it was pretty fun. I didn't really get much done in the way of studying, and didn't open my actual lesson book today. However, I did read a little bit on a previous lesson about commercial vs. literary fiction, and it finally clicked with me!

    Commercial fiction is a very traditional story. Like Lord of the Rings. While literary fiction is mostly about a character(s) and their lives in a fictional setting, like Game of Thrones. It's funny but for some reason because the stories in literary fiction are "shorter" but broader in scope, it feels almost like it can be easier to sell characters like that via selling the setting, instead of the commercial way of selling the setting via the characters.

    But then I've never actually done it myself, so I really shouldn't comment on what is easier. I guess it sounds easier?

    Anyway, I've got my 10 page paper to finish tomorrow, and then I think I'll be able to do another lesson. I am going to push to finish my chapter on scenes tomorrow and get back on track to where I was before I had a financial meltdown.

    Until tomorrow!

    PS: I had my first cup of coffee today in like...a long time. With CREAMER. I'm so spoiled. It was great.
  16. Vagrant Tale

    Vagrant Tale Active Member

    Jul 2, 2016
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    I got my final project done for my HVACR class, it ended up being a 10 page report...muh brain is so tired.

    Took it kind of easy with my writing lessons tonight, but I did get back into my lesson book. Tonight's lesson was continuing on scenes, specifically a section called "getting H.I.P. with your scenes!"

    HIP stands for hook, intensity, prompt, it's a pattern that scenes follow. The important thing in this lesson that was stressed is that every scene must pay off the price of the book, or the reader will feel cheated or bored. The difference between a successful and unsuccessful writer lay within how much each scene engages the reader. It doesn't matter how good the story is, if the scenes are dull and unengaging, no one will read it.

    So today I read up on the first section hook. Basically, this is the very start of a scene, and its goal is to pull the reader into the narrative right away. The big thing here is that a lot of writers will start this part with static description right away. This is logical because humans think in a linear fashion, but like my previous lessons mentioned, static description just doesn't really fly these days. Things need to be in motion for people to be sucked in. Do not start with static description!!!

    The hook needs to be in motion. This means starting with action, dialogue, or a teaser that hints that a scene is about to unfold. The important thing to note is that you don't forget to describe the linear aspects of the scene (people, place, things) but you just integrate them as the action unfolds.

    Instead of: "The walls were white." it should be, "Penelope looked around anxiously, staring at the white walls." Things need to be moving!

    That's all I'm going to do for tonight...have to get back to studying for my final exam on Monday.

    Until tomorrow!
  17. Vagrant Tale

    Vagrant Tale Active Member

    Jul 2, 2016
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    Ha! I made it on time tonight! Seven minutes before midnight still counts!

    I spent most of today studying for my final mod exam tomorrow, and my unemployment filing came through! It's really not much, but I'll take whatever I can get at this point.

    Today's lesson was again very short, I'll be able to pick up the pace again once I get through all of my finals coming up and can make my routine a little more stable after I find some work. Continuing on my H.I.P. lesson from yesterday, today's focus was on the I, Intensity

    Intensity must be present in every scene, no matter what. The idea is to rack up the intensity, either physical or mental (literary novels usually have more mental than physical) and slowly turn it up at the scene goes on, deflating it at certain times during the novel, but progressively raising it as the entire novel goes on until the big knockout finish.

    An important note is that even with allied character, there has to be some kind of tension there to create intensity. Think about Lethal Weapon for instance, and the dynamics of the two main characters. That's a perfect example off the top of my head of intensity and tension, even when the character's interests line up almost identically? If you don't have that tension, the interactions between the characters will just be dry information dialogue exchanges...and that's super lame.

    If you can't find any intensity in a scene you are currently working on, then the best thing to do is simply drop the scene and start it over. Remember, every scene must justify the time and money the reader is spending on your book,. There are six billion things the reader could be doing besides reading it, so don't give them a reason to put it down!

    Wish me luck on my exam!

    Until tomorrow!
  18. Vagrant Tale

    Vagrant Tale Active Member

    Jul 2, 2016
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    Doh! I'm an hour late tonight! Oh well, it still counts because I haven't slept yet (that nap earlier doesn't count!)

    I passed my final mod exam with an 86%! I'm pretty happy, considering I didn't really study that much during the weekend. But now the next mod is filled with maaaaath...I suuuuck at math :( oh well, as long as I can practice the formulas over and over and I can have a calculator, I think I'll be okay.

    Super busy day, so I had to squeeze in my lesson earlier in the day and write down notes, I just sat down finally so this is my only chance to type them in here, then off to bed to get up suuuper early again tomorrow!

    Today's lesson continues with scenes, this time finishing off the final step of the H.I.P. process: Prompt.
    -ends scenes
    -lots of writers let scenes die down/fizzle out (boooring)
    -examples of bad scene ends that a lot of writers use:
    a)people walk out of rooms
    b)drive off in cars
    c)offer dull parting phrases like, "goodbye" and "nice talking to you"

    The secret to having a strong prompt is using an R.O.P., or Read-on Prompt. An ROD is a prompt designed to make the reader want to immediately flip to the next page. Some examples of RODs:
    -impending disaster
    -secret suddenly revealed
    -major decision or vow
    -announcement of a shattering event
    -reversal or surprise-new info that turns the story around
    -a hanging question

    Some ending tips:
    -if a scene is sputtering downwards, try cutting the last 1-2 paragraphs
    -I don't have to write every scene to its logical conclusion
    -its often best choice not too
    -make the reader want to continue
    -remember Hitchcock's axiom, and I won't hav eto worry about dull parts in my books

    Moving onwards to the next lesson, I started learning about the "Intensity Scale", here are my notes on that
    -show, don't tell
    -tell should only be used to get to the meat of a scene
    -if you show (make vivid) every thing than what you want to stand out won't stand out
    -showing too much will exhaust the reader
    -when to show and when to tell? Use the intensity scale!

    -the skill of a fiction writer is the ability to exploit intensity
    -the most intense moments must come at the right time and stand out as the most vivid part of the narrative
    -intensity scale is to gauge them on a sliding scale 0-10
    -as scenes move along in time, intensity increases
    -NEVER drop to zero
    -if a scene starts at a 1 or 2, it should only go up to a 7 or 8, it shouldn't ever start at a 1-2 and end in a 10, that's over the top
    -there should only be 1 or 2 level 10 intensity moments in the story, that's all a single novel can handle

    And that's where I stopped for the day! I'm so close to being done with this chapter (sheesh I think it was like 40 pages long!)

    On the weirder side of things, today I was laying in my cot, taking a nap shortly after getting home, and I was listening to my sister and her husband talk about playing pokemon go. They were preparing to leave, and I could hear them talking, but I couldn't actually "wake up" from the sleep...even though I was actually trying. I was able to follow their conversation somewhat, but I was in the middle of dreaming, and was in some kind of crawl space? I was trying really hard to tell my sister to wake me up, but no matter what I did I couldn't bring myself out of the weird haze in my head. It was a very strange experience! I think I'm going to write about it!

    Until tomorrow!
  19. Vagrant Tale

    Vagrant Tale Active Member

    Jul 2, 2016
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    Last day of my first mod today...I rushed my homework to get it all done, and the teacher told me I didn't have to come to class on Thursday. I'm going to go anyway and knockout the homework for my other class, and probably just use that quiet undistracted time to just write and relax. I got another interview on Friday at 2pm for a part time job that pays $14/hr, so I'm excited!

    I'll be perfectly honest about today, I just didn't have the energy or time to open up my lesson book...I kind of slacked off. I bought HP Lovecraft: the complete fiction from Barnes and Noble, and oh my god I couldn't stop reading it today. I read the Case of Charles Dexter Ward, the Call of Cthulu, and Nyarlathotep, and the latter's writing was just mind bendingly elegant and beautiful, I just couldn't wrap my head around it. I read Dagoth, but I may need to read it again because I didn't quite understand the second half of it.

    My plan is to try to take what I've learned about scene intensity, pacing, and the various lessons in this (very long) chapter and read a little bit before I do my lesson book to see how what I've learned can be seen in the works of writers that I love. Fortunately, I have a copy of William Gibson's Count Zero that I haven't even touched! So I think I'm going to start on that tomorrow when I wake up. Make some coffee, some toast, sit in my chair, and just relax and read. Sounds great!

    Until tomorrow!
  20. Vagrant Tale

    Vagrant Tale Active Member

    Jul 2, 2016
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    I wasn't able to get into my lesson book today, my sister had her friend over and they've been chatting like chickens for going on 14 hours now, and its impossible to even hear myself think.

    I've got class tomorrow, but all of my homework is done, and the final lecture of that class was on Tuesday, so I'm going to use my class time tomorrow to do my other homework assignments, and once that's done I'm going to use the rest of that time until the class is out to work on my writing lessons.

    So even on a day when I didn't do anything, I stilled wrote in my journal...I feel like that counts for something.

    Until tomorrow!
  21. Vagrant Tale

    Vagrant Tale Active Member

    Jul 2, 2016
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    Interview's tomorrow...I'm so nervous!if you start here, get out

    Today was the final section of my scenes chapter (whew!) and it was completing the lesson on the Intensity scale with some more technical details. Specifically, about using the Intensity scale to balance out the book. Here's my notes!
    -a good plot = proper balance
    -sometimes the reader needs relief from intensity
    -literary novels especially need relief
    -a novel of 100,000 words may have half a dozen big scenes
    -these are guideposts through the novel and into the climax
    -between each big scene (guidepost) use differing intensity to vary the pace
    -determine which scenes the story cannot due without
    -write those scenes for all they are worth
    -get the narrative quickly into the show zone
    -in the 8-10 intensity range
    -transitional scenes can be a mix, usually 2-6
    -graph these scenes on paper, then look over the novel as a whole
    -use this to keep things fresh

    And for each number on the intensity scale, I wrote these down!

    10: over the top! use sparingly, 1-3 per book
    8, 9: good range for big scenes, turning points
    6, 7: conflict, important emotions, sharp dialogue, inner turmoil
    5: a good place to start scenes that build into the higher ranges
    3, 4: setup scenes (short) & other transitions
    1, 2: if you start here, get out quickly
    0: don't even think about it. for instance, lengthy descriptions, (eg, weather, place), especially in the first chapter, will flatline your novel and induce yawns (and rejections) from editors

    So going along with today's lesson, I took the outline for my first novel (that I'm not actively working on!) and graphed some of the scenes' intensity...and discovered that it's way too formulaic, and one spot has WAAAAAAAAAAAY too many big scenes in a row!

    Wish me luck on my interview!

    Until tomorrow!
  22. Vagrant Tale

    Vagrant Tale Active Member

    Jul 2, 2016
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    Internet was out last night, so I couldn't post my entry for 7/22! So what I'm going to do instead is to combine it with my lessons today into a super-entry!

    Yesterday and today's lessons were on complex plots. And some other details about making plots more complex, starting with theme.
    -a theme is the answer to the questions:
    -what is the lesson/insight?
    -what is the new way of seeing things?
    -what do you want the reader to glean?
    -think of theme as the "meta-message"
    -the one big message my book will convey
    -a novel will only have 1 meta-message, but may offer several submessages
    -do not force a story into a theme
    -being preachy is bad
    -characters carry theme. always.
    -develop my characters and set them in the story world where their values will conflict
    -theme will emerge without effort

    -weave them into the plot
    -can be primarily thematic
    -concerned with what the Lead (or the POV character) needs to learn
    -while the outside main plot is going on causing lots of problems for the Lead
    -subplot is going on, focusing on problems/issues that are personal/interior
    -thematic subplots can end on a positive or negative note
    -adds depth and meaning, allows me to make a statement about life, even if the Lead/character isn't thinking about it most of the time

    Symbols & Motifs
    -deepen the plot only if they aren't larded on
    -naturalness is key
    -associate words with ideas (symbols)
    -motif is a repeating image or phrase
    -symbol is something that is representative of another thing

    Long novels (episodic)
    -use the LOCK system modified
    -Locale, Objective, Confrontation, Kick
    -repeat for each episode

    Parallel Plots
    -switch band-and-forth between plot lines
    -end each section with readers wanting to know whats going to happen next
    -run along the same forward path but eventually intersect
    -each plot must work on its own
    (think game of thrones)

    There was also an ending section on non-linear plots(think Pulp Fiction), but at this time I'm really not interested in writing something like that, so I just read it but didn't really take notes on it.

    My sister and her husband are leaving tomorrow to go fishing, and my sister won't be back until Tuesday, so I may try to squeeze in an extra lesson or two!

    Until tomorrow!
  23. Vagrant Tale

    Vagrant Tale Active Member

    Jul 2, 2016
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    Whew! Loooong day! I'm just now getting to writing-study, and its 2am, and I have to be up at 8am!

    Today I started the lesson on character arcs, and for the purpose of understanding the lesson fully, I read Dicken's A Christmas Carol. This lesson is pretty lengthy, and it's going to take quite a bit of writing and typing to convey it all. So! I read the story and the lesson tonight, and tomorrow (since I'm burning the candle at both ends here) I'm going to finish it and do another lesson in addition.

    Until tomo---later today!
  24. Vagrant Tale

    Vagrant Tale Active Member

    Jul 2, 2016
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    I'll admit I was kind of lazy today...I had an extremely difficult time staying awake since I got home, but I did finally get through two hours of writing-study from where I started yesterday, and as promised, here it is!

    Character Arc in Plot
    -great plots have great characters
    -character change
    -what the action does to the character
    -readers respond to a character who changes
    -it can be a major or a subtle change
    -characters growing deepens a plot
    -look to create character change that deepens plot and expresses a theme
    -allows the author to show what happens in life

    The character arc
    -opposed to the plotline
    -a plotline within a plotline
    -we must go deeper!
    -is a description of what happens to the inside of the character over the course of the story
    -begins as one person, things happen, ends
    -should be a different person at the end of the arc
    -life-changing lesson
    -has to have a build to it or it won't be convincing

    Character Arc Breakdown
    1) Beginning point
    -meet the character
    -get a sense of his/her interior layers
    2) Doorway through which the character must pass, almost always reluctantly
    3) Incidents that impact the layers
    4) A deepening disturbance
    5) A moment of change
    -sometimes via an epiphany
    6) An aftermath

    People resist change!
    -Remember that all people resist change
    -Character can't just have their core beliefs or values changed in an instance
    -Opinions are the first step to changing deeper layers of beliefs
    -It works in layers
    -ogres are like onions

    From outer layers to innermost layers:
    b)dominant attitudes
    d)core beliefs

    Character changing beliefs
    -change the way the character looks at life
    -can you design incidents that will teach the character a life lesson?

    Character Arc Table
    -create a 4-step path from the beginning of the novel to the end make notes of the character attitudes at each of the 4 steps

    A strong character arc will enhance any plot, it isn't always easy but its worth it to create memorable changes that flow from the story

    I think I'm going to take a shower and do another one! But in case I don't, then as always:

    Until tomorrow!
  25. Vagrant Tale

    Vagrant Tale Active Member

    Jul 2, 2016
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    Well I didn't get around to doing another chapter last night, but I ended up getting tonight's done a little early.

    Today's lesson was on plotting systems. I've kind of Frankensteined my own system together in the past so I didn't really feel like I needed to do this chapter, but regardless I didn't want to let pride stand in the way of me possibly learning something valuable, so I decided to do it anyway.

    Now then, to my notes!

    First, two terms to become familiar with: OP (outline-person) and NOP (no outline-person)

    The difference is pretty self explanatory. Some authors like to do outlines and some don't. It's a very subjective process, and you don't always have to use the same method. The important thing I took from this chapter were 2 things:

    1) ALWAYS use the LOCK system
    2) try writing the backcover (like the advertisement) first, it will solidify where you want the story to go and what you want to expect, even if you are a seat of the pants writer

    -A system for NOPs
    -set yourswelf a writing quota (1000 words is good)
    -writing as quickly as possible is the best way to go for an NOP
    A great tip is called "The Nifty 350"
    -That's where you write 350 words right when you wake up! It counts from your 1000 a day and can help in a variety of ways
    -begin the writing day by rereading what you wrote the day before
    -one day a week record the plot journal

    Systems for OPs
    -Index card system
    -color coded
    -lay them out to see the big picture
    -you can write the ending first to "give something to shoot for"
    a) major scenes
    b) gripping opening scene
    c) disturbance
    d) first doorway (act 1 into act 2)
    e) second doorway (act 2 into act 3)

    Lay out the cards from left to right, fill out new cards and insert them in between the correct areas
    -play with things! add scenes in, take scenes out
    -play with it for a week
    -use blank cards if needed to substitute, IE "Reaction scene"
    -can use to find plot connections
    -start writing scene-by-scene
    -lay out again every 3 or 4 scenes re-evaluate

    OP systems
    The Headlights System
    -plot only as far as you can see
    -idea of general direction & nothing more
    -too much structure can destroy good spontaneous plot ideas
    -use the LOCK system!

    Ask some questions:
    1) what is my character's emotional state at the end of the scene? how will he react in the next scene?
    2) what is the next action my character needs to take?
    3) what strong scenes up ahead need transitional scenes before them?
    4) do I need to add any new characters? has a character in the scene I've just written suggested other plot developments?

    The last 2 methods I wasn't really that interested in, but they are the David Morrell method, which takes into account lots of "whys?" when writing
    -why do I want to write it?
    -what does he do?
    -ask questions!

    The final method was the "Borg method" which basically means summarizing everything in great, great detail to create a very long and super detailed outline. This method sounded a little too exhausting to me, like preparing just the outline would be the same or more work than writing the actual novel!

    Well! That was really difficult to get through! Until tomorrow!

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