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Showing posts from November, 2020

The Six Act Two-Goal Novel

What makes for good drama is a constant. To begin, we combine Siegal's "nine act structure - two goal" screenplay (very much like the Syd Field three act except that the "reversal" from Field's structure joins "Act 5" in Siegal's version) with the Field classic three act. The Two-Goal Structure, Siegal maintains, creates more dynamic plot tension due to the insertion of PLOT REVERSAL later in the story. We concur.  NOTE:  "Plot Point" is defined here as a major occurrence that emphatically changes the course of the story. In the genre novel as a whole, we see three to five major plot points depending on various factors: a first PP that begins the rising action, second PP defined by the first major reversal, a third PP defined by a possible second major reversal, a climax PP, and a theoretical PP residing in the denouement, i.e., we think the story is going to resolve a certain way after climax, but a surprise happens that resolves it

The Author Dawn - Rise and Blink

What should be percolating in the aborning author's mind from the very start, and even before they approach the first steps towards writing the novel?  Let's Talk About Passion A few basic questions first. Why are you writing a novel? For reasons of ambition, ego? Well, why not? Most of us, in one way or another, tend the ego. We want recognition, validation, a chance to prove our ability to others and thereby rise above (careful... verging on narcissism). Or we might simply need to prove something to ourselves. Or more simply, gain a degree of independence from an unsatisfactory mode of existence, the existential nausea of daily grind. We may require purpose, a desire to fill our lives with pursuit that restores us with a mission; and what better way to achieve than by writing a novel? Then, of course, there is the pure need to create, the godlike urge shared by all true artists. Or perhaps your particular desire to write the novel results from some or all the above working i

Protagonist Sympathy Factors in the Hook

If you've won a Pulitzer you might consider disregarding the advice in this section, but it's not advisable. No article here at WE could be more representative of the Algonkian model-and-context method of novel writing than this. Look at the percentage of novels on the shelf right now that concentrate on creating a character the reader will become concerned with without hesitation. Quite a few, yes? A novel hook with an interesting, unique, and sympathetic character will make agents sit up and take notice. This is vital to avoiding a rejection slip. A few fairly recent and classic examples of what we're talking about as follows. The name of the character in question follows the title and author. Note that All of the factors listed appear in the first 10 to 15 pages. The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time  by Mark Haddon Christopher John Francis Boone - A first-person narrative from an autistic 15-year-old protagonist: "My name is Ch

Aspiring Authors and the Epiphany Light

A WATERSHED EVENT FOR SERIOUS WRITERS Whatever the stage of your project or writing life, know that all writers, if they desire to become commercially published, must see and enter the Epiphany Light. First of all, what is the "Epiphany Light"?  The EL is a state of mind crucial to any writer desirous of commercial or serious literary publication, and one which clearly divides the 99% of aspiring authors from the 1% of those who've learned the hard way how challenging it is to have their expertise and projects taken seriously by professionals in the publishing business. But are the percentages so drastic as depicted here? Yes, and probably even more so.  Consider the very small number of first time authors who emerge with publishing contracts from major houses, imprints, or even well-regarded traditional presses, and then compare these few hundred to the hundreds of thousands of writers in America struggling valiantly yet vainly to accomplish the same f

Loglines and Hooks With Core Wounds

HOOK OR LOG WITH CORE WOUND AND CONFLICT Your hook line (also known as logline) is your first chance to get a New York or Hollywood professional interested in your novel. It can be utilized in your query to hook the agent into requesting the project. It is especially useful for those pitch sessions at conferences, lunches, in the elevator, or anywhere else. When a prospective agent or editor asks you what your book is about, your hook line is your answer. Writing one also encourages a realization of those primary elements that will make your novel into a work of powerful fiction.  The great novel, more often than not, comprises in reality two stories: the exterior story or plot line(s), as well as the protagonist-focused, interior story flow that defines and catalyzes their arc throughout the novel. For example, a protagonist with a flaw or core wound that prevents her from achieving a worthwhile goal, is forced to respond to a lifechanging event instigated by an antagonist of one s

What the Classics Teach us About Exposition

The literary science of accomplishing exposition is set in stone. The inexperienced writer dumps it like rocky weights on the reader's head (or not at all).   The experienced author delivers at the right time and place, fusing it within the narrative flow so as to avoid the appearance of artifice. But wait, let's provide a simple definition before going further:  " exposition" is that sum of information which must be delivered to the reader to enable them to fully understand the plot of the novel going forward. Generally speaking, the reader learns exposition in a similar manner to the way life teaches it, e.g., upon moving into a new neighborhood, you learn the background history of the neighbors a bit at a time. They tell you about themselves, and others, as circumstances and conditions permit. By combining those fragments, you are finally able to perceive the entire picture of neighborhood society.  The example above should give us a clue as to the best methods for

Writer Ego and the Imaginary Bob

You begin your first novel with equal parts ignorance and false optimism, only to embarrassingly learn many months, or even years later, the enormity of your mistakes. Those popular writer magazines and the  sociable little group of amateur writers that looked like a great plan, at first, now appear unreliable and even time wasting. At this juncture, you will either deny reality, quit altogether, or else vow to become a true and humble apprentice to the art of novel writing .  Ne confondez jamais une seule défaite avec une défaite finale.                                       - F. Scott The process above is nearly inevitable for the vast majority of aspiring authors, and only the eternal narcissist is incapable of achieving a productive second stage. We've discussed this subject more than once. Of course, such a personality will always disagree and fume like a child, but what about less volatile, less serious forms of counterproductive ego? About a year past, a screen

Best 10 Steps for Starting the Novel - All Genres

As you explore the nooks and literary crannies of WE, you'll find considerable words devoted to warning you away from foolish and terrible advice.  But what about professional, tested, and proven advice? Below are ten bullet points for aspiring authors designed to help them overcome any confusion or misdirection when it comes to starting the novel. However, before you investigate, make certain you've already prepared by reading this sensible prologue . Note: the list below makes a base assumption that the writer is a relative novice and currently searching for direction and focus--the same stage we've all endured. For those in the second stage, or higher, the list might well begin further down. Nonetheless, we cannot stress enough how important it is to fully understand your genre. Eat and breathe it. Know the currents in the market, what makes for a "high concept" story in this context. You'll never be published otherwise. KEY CONCEPTS : genre, high c