Friday, December 23, 2011

Tina's Holiday Miracle

Recently I had a miraculous writing experience that I'd like to share with you.

(Vince, put your fingers in your ears.)

I plotted.

One of the best ways to plot is of course the synopsis.

Contrary to popular belief, the synopsis is not just for the aspiring writer or the contest entrant. And no dears, it doesn't go away.

At a certain point in your publishing career you will no doubt be submitting proposals (three chapters and a synopsis) instead of full manuscripts.

In fact there are many of you who are such good plotters (put your hands down) that you probably sell on a synopsis. And to those of you who sell on a blurb, and will contradict this post, well, I don't want to hear about it. But let's do lunch. You're paying.

I admit, I am accustomed to skating by on a short shallow synopsis. Recently a long detailed, possibly even USEFUL synopsis was required.

Imagine my dismay.

What I discovered during the process is that it's all about timing the pain.

Sure I can suffer the pain, the angst, the insecurity on a daily basis as I write my character led plotless story (for weeks at a time), or I can whittle it down to two maybe three days of intense pain and suffering and be done with it by writing a long synopsis first.

My message to you is that you too can write a long synopsis aka PLOT.

I admit the angels singing the Hallelujah Chorus as I plotted were quite illuminating. (I heard Vince's voice in there as well.)

So today I present :

Tina's Guide To Writing Your Synopsis Using Michael Hauge's 6 Stage Plot Structure.

This is my down and dirty translation meant only to persuade you to come over to the dark side. A visual of the 6 Stage Plot Structure is available here.

First the visible goal or external plot structure:

Stage 1 : Set Up

Show the hero/heroine in their ordinary world. (Often this step is skipped or combined with Turning Point 1 in a romance)

Turning Point 1: Opportunity

This is not the story goal, it is simply a new opportunity, often geographical.
Hauge emphasizes that if the story goal presents too soon it cannot carry the entire book. AKA sagging middle.

(Which creates:) Stage 2: New Situation

Here the hero/heroine begins to scope out the rules in the new situation. The new situation will create the Change of Plans.

Turning Point 2: Change of Plans

The new situation now transforms into the visible story goal. Hauge is very emphatic that you must have a visible goal or you cannot arrive.

Stage 3: Progress

Small conflicts are overcome or delayed. But then the conflicts or obstacles become more and more difficult.

Turning Point 3: Point of No Return

This is the point at which the hero/heroine realize they are fully committed to the goal.

Stage 4: Complications & Higher Stakes

To quote Michael Hague:"Two things happen with full commitment

1. It becomes more difficult to accomplish the goal
2. It becomes more important to accomplish the goal

The choices are bad or bad.

Turning Point 4: Major Set Back

This is the point at which the reader thinks all is lost.

Stage 4: Final Push

Because all is lost the hero/heroine must do or die and give everything to one last final attempt to reach the goal.

Turning Point 5: Climax

The moment of achieving the visible goal.

Stage 6: Resolution or Aftermath

Often depicted as an epilogue, or a scene showing the new life for the hero/heroine. And of course in a romance this is the H-E-A. Happily-Ever-After.

You'll notice that on the MovieJive visual of the Hague plot structure they list the inner and outer journey. That translates to the inner and outer conflict.

Internal conflict is man's internal issues often referred to as the character arc.

External conflict is man versus nature or man.

Hague calls the internal journey (or internal conflict) the journey "From Identity to Essence" and discusses this journey in detail in the Hero's Two Journeys CD and DVD.

Here is the down and dirty on the Internal Journey according to Hauge:

Stage 1: Living fully in Identity and often in denial, with the confidence that life is fine just the way it is.

Opportunity presented

Stage 2: Glimpses Life in Essence

Hero gets a peek at living in their essence.

Stage 3: Moving Towards Essence Without Leaving Identity

New situation-the hero starts to accept the possibility of his essence and starts to pursue his longing.

Stage 4: Fully In Essence But Reverts One Last Time

Fearful to leave Identity completely. Frightened by the internal conflict they return to Identity one last time

Point of no return leads to:

Stage 5: Living Fully in Essence

Fully vulnerable in essence with everything to lose, the hero/heroine realize that their old self or Identity doesn't work anymore.

After the climax and aftermath:

Stage 6: Transformed Existence

The journey is complete and destiny is achieved as hero becomes true to himself.

You can see how these two journeys intertwine to bring you an evolved, complex and interesting plot. (By the way, for a more detailed description of the Hauge methodology check out the Inscription blog here.)

The next step in this miraculous plotting miracle is to fill in the blanks for the 6 stages of internal and external conflict above using both your hero and heroine's information. Then transfer to narrative to created a synopsis. Viola!!

To learn the big picture on Michael Hauge's Six Stage Plot Structure I highly recommend you purchase The Heroes Two Journey's DVD or CD. (Click here for a sneak peek.) I am a visual/audio learner and if you are too you will find this to be a total bang for your buck.

In fact I think this writing tool is so indispensable I'm willing to put my money where my mouth is and giveaway a copy of the CD version, to one a blog commenter. (Winner announced in the Weekend Edition of course).

However as always we offer this disclaimer in Seekerville: No one technique is WRITE or RIGHT for everybody.

So tell me, did you hear angels like I did?

What works for you?

Since it's Friday, and the last full shopping day before Christmas it is going to be a slow day. If we have more than 100 unique comments (no spamming please) today I will throw in a second copy of the Michael Hague CD. Comments are cut off at 12 midnight EST (tonight) in order to be ready for the Weekend Edition.

Merry Christmas from me to you!


Helen Gray said...

Coffee has arrived!

Tine, you've made my brain hurt.

This is good stuff. I just need to absorb it by degrees.



Nancy Kimball said...

Tina, this is great! I'm finding the more I write and study the craft, the less of a pantser I become.
I have yet to chart each scene in index cards or anything like that, but I do see further down the road in my head than I used to.
I have a theory here that the synopsis might be easier to try to write first, or at least, before the midpoint of the story. Usually by then even the truest pantsers have at least an idea of where the rest of the story is going. I think this helps avoid the problems I encountered when I had to "go back" and write the synopsis for my completed MS. Problems like it was physically painful to leave out all those "darlings" like sub plots and important minor characters, etc. I'll have to let you know if this works. If "they" aren't there yet, LOL, it shouldn't be hard to leave them out.

Mary Connealy said...

wow, Tina. I love this.

Although 'timing the pain' sounds a little like you're doing Lamaze breathing exercizes...double although...that might not be a bad metaphore for writing a novel.

Janet Kerr said...

Oh Tina,
So timely! This is certainly a keeper.

And, please enter me in the draw.
Thanks so much,
Jan K.

Melissa Jagears said...

Um, I just pulled out my synopsis, the last bit I have to do before sending this off, but I guess I'll have to add another technique thing to my shopping list, cuz my brain's feeling Helen's brain's pain. :)

I had an agent recently turn me down not because of my writing but because of my synopsis. I thought I'd write the synopsis from now on prior to the book and she told me no, to write the whole book first to "find out where I'm going" but I really think if I can craft a good synopsis then I'll "know where I'm going" so that I'll find the flaws ahead of time OR write my synopsis in such a way I don't create imaginary flaws--so, this craft source I'm sure will be helpful, esp. if I win it, because winning it makes it magical, right? No? I still have to struggle through this synopsis thing? Sigh.

Tina Radcliffe said...

It is just like childbirth pain. And like an idiot you go and do it all over again when you finish.

Jan Drexler said...

Tina - I heard the Hallelujah Chorus a few days ago, drifting through the air from the direction of the Denver area...was that the moment?

I love plotting. I love learning a new plotting method and plugging it in to what I already understand.

I had heard about the Six Stage Plot Structure, but have never seen it spelled out so well before. And the chart you linked to? It satisfies my visual-learner heart!

And your timing is perfect - I'm just beginning to plot out a new story...

Hot chocolate is set up for the late-nighters, complete with whipped cream and toffee bits sprinkled on top.

Tina Radcliffe said...

If you ever have the opportunity to hear Michael, don't walk.I have his RWA workshops on my iTouch and I listen to them all the time.

Tina Radcliffe said...

Um, I meant run TO them, not away, lol.

I own all his DVDs and they are besides Deb Dixon's GMC the best spent resource money.

Erica Vetsch said...

I'm cracking up. Tina, you are soooo funny. Your holiday miracle was that you plotted????

As a pantser turned plotter, all I can say is:

Welcome to the club! :D

oh, and:

Merry Christmas, Seeker-chicks (and Vince and Walt.)

Tina Radcliffe said...

In my world THAT was a miracle. he he he.

Mary Cline said...

I think I'm finally GETTING it! Now that's a miracle. I will catch the video soon but don't want to wake some grand kids right now. Thanks for this. We whipped up a batch of fudge this evening. We'll share, goes well with Helen's coffee.
Thanks Tina.

Virginia said...

It's true there's no RIGHT way to write... But I think it's so interesting to see in shorthand (or down and dirty) the things that some people write instinctively. Some people make that hero's journey taught with tension... and some of us have to get a little help on the way or we end up with ten pages of musings and dull dialogue.
I have an artist friend who took a lot of anatomy classes because knowing the muscles and bones helped with drawing figures. This kind of post makes me think of him... Here we are studying the bones and the inner workings, so our story 'body' looks just the way we want it to- naturally beautiful, compelling and realistic.

Jo said...

I've never been a plotter as such but I am so open to new ideas. This pantsing lark can be very time consuming!!!

Renee said...

What a great chart! Thanks for sharing all this, Tina. I have lived with the pain you describe and "timing it" definitely makes sense. I thought the ability to write a great synopsis belonged only to a chosen few. Since I'm trying to become more of a plotter, this gives me hope :)

Anyway, Merry Christmas!

Glynna Kaye said...

Beautifully summarized, Tina!! Like you, I now sell with a synopsis and 3 chapters. And what I discovered is that the synopsis forces me to think ahead and work out in advance the areas where I might otherwise have found myself writing myself into a corner, or limping through an episodic "muddled middle." Because a synopsis is so high level (not scene by scene by scene for my publisher), you still have so much leeway to discover your characters in depth as you write, come up with scenes to illustrate the plot points and premise, etc. For me, being a "planster" has been ideal. I wish I'd have discovered it years ago and maybe I'd have COMPLETED a lot more books!

Annie Rains said...

What a great post!...This information will be so useful because I'm about to start plotting next year's book. Thanks so much for sharing.

Please, please, please enter me in the drawing for the CD. This audio sounds awesome and it's too late to put it on my Christmas want list :)

Merry Christmas everyone!

Jackie said...

Thanks for sharing this Tina. I hate writing a synopsis, or more like I'm scared of them. SO, I found this post very helpful.
Please toss my name in the hat.
Thanks, again!
Jackie Layton

Merry Christmas!

CaraG said...

For me this is post is filled with information to study and absorb. It's just what I needed. Thank you.

The Hauge CD is now on my wish list.

Merry Christmas to everyone. This site and the people on it are such a gift.


Sandra Leesmith said...

Tina, this is definitely a keeper. I am a plotter, but it never hurts to tighten that sucker up and get it right the first time around.

Thanks for sharing.

Saw all the snow in Denver on the news. You'll have plenty of time to tuck yourself in the house and plot away. smile

Merry Christmas to you also.

Kav said...

My brain is kafuzzled 'cause its all stuffed up, but I think I heard a glimmer of the Hallelujah Chorus! (Though I might have been hearing voices in my fever-induced haze. I never know these days!)

But I think I'm starting to catch on...but I'm at the point where I don't think I could do that plotting outline until I'd actually pansted the whole story in a confusing and rambling way. LOL. So I guess I'm not quite there yet, or at least I seem to have to take the long way round to it.

I don't understand what is meant by 'the essence'. (and side note here -- loved your outline but found that pdf chart you linked us to completely confusing. What does that say about my brain?! Oh...maybe it's that I don't have one?! Anyway -- could someone explain essence vs identity to me? Or should I just buy the dvd? LOL.

Ruth Logan Herne said...

Blogger ate my comment.



Rose said...


I'm printing this one out. I was a panster then I tried working with a chapter by chapter outline and my time became much more productive! So, that is how I prefer to write now...with the exception of my third Heartsong book, I didn't have time to do a chapter outline first, I had to get it written.

Good thing I'd be thinking about it for a long time...kind of knew it by heart!

Merry Christmas, everyone!

Jamie Adams said...

Tina, you know you're my hero right?

I'm struggling to get this synopsis ready so I can send off my proposal. (I know a certain editor is sitting in her office, drumming her fingers on the desk waiting for this one) When I have someone proof it for me it comes back with a list of books to read on how to write a synopsis.

You've given me a boost today and some very helpful information. Back to the synopsis writing board I go.

Janet Dean said...

Tina, your post is wonderful! And funny! I love your seat of the pants dismay at the value of plotting. I'm sure you made
Vince's day. :-) I like stories that mesh with the character, feel character driven yet I want--need--to plot. I'm scared without a map. Plus plotting makes for faster writing. Important with deadlines. Thanks for the great information and the terrific giveaway! Pulling for 200 comments.

Merry Christmas, Seekerville!


Missy Tippens said...

I hear angels, too, Tina! You know I'm a firm believer is the Hero's 2 Journeys as well. I LOVE the identity to essence journey. And one thing I really love in a romance, is that the love interest sees the essence of the person and is in love with that before the hero/heroine even knows what his/her true essence is. :)

Bridgett Henson said...

Hearing the hallelujah chorus on Christmas vacation!

It's nice to know that Synopsis isn't a four letter word.

Seriously though. The dreaded Synopsis helps me cut those cute little tea scenes after the book is written.

Ruthy, I feel your pain. Blogger ate my comment yesterday. :(

Julie Lessman said...

LOL, TINA ... I've been hearing the "angels sing" for a long, LONG time now. Of course, it could be the ringing in my ears too, I guess ...

GREAT BLOG, my friend, and OH SOOOO TRUE!!! I am a card-carrying pantster whose eyes would glaze over every time a plotter would begin to speak. But then the worst thing happened that could ever happen to a pantster -- I wrote a continuing series.

With no less than 15 ongoing characters in a series of six books, the days of sitting down at my computer to let my fingers do the walking died an ugly death when I wrote book 3, A Passion Denied. Suddenly I was forced to actually sit down and plot to figure out just where these people were going with their lives.

BUT ... when I did, GLORY ALLELULIA -- I heard the angels sing in a way I'd never heard it before. I found that drafting/crafting 7-page synopses that my agent and editor claimed read like a mini-novel where tears could actually be shed not only gave me a clear path of where I was going, but LO AND BEHOLD -- how to get there as well!!

Now, instead of a "pantster" who became a "plotter," I think of myself as a "planster," who plots out the story in great detail beforehand, then sits down to write it the way a pantster would -- letting the story take me where it wants me to go. Most of my plots end up fairly close to the orginal synopses, but not completely and sometimes the surprise ending I originally planned changes, surprising even me!

Happy and holy holidays to all!!


Valerie Comer said...

Please toss my name in the hat. As someone who's been asked for a full proposal on my next project before the fact instead of after, the idea of a full plot scares me. It looks so foggy up ahead!

I'm a mixed breed plantser and am still struggling with finding my best way. This post (and accompanying links) breaks things down in a way that is less terrifying. Thanks!

Vince said...

Hi Tina:

I don’t think I’ve been mentioned so many times as I have been today! Wonderful! And I haven’t even posted yet! : )

Simile Alert

“A synopsis is like Don Quixote’s mirror: it forces the writer to face the reality of the story’s merit.”

See the video:

What’s so painful is that a synopsis forces the writer to face the fact that the story may not be very good. A pantser can dream about writing the perfect story until about halfway through the manuscript.

The best advice I’ve read on writing a synopsis is to treat it like the back cover copy. It should be an easy to read advertisement for your book. Only the synopsis includes all the spoilers.

I mean: how hard would it be to write a synopsis for a great story, so well thought out, that you can’t wait to write it?

We are very much in sync. I give “The Hero’s Two Journeys” five stars. I actually don’t watch the video often enough.

Resolution 1: I will watch it again on New Year’s Day.

CAVEAT: I think it should be pointed out that they use obscene language that is totally gratuitous and offensive. I’ve given over 3,000 three-hour seminars without ever using such language once. I find it highly insulting for a lecturer to assume that such language is OK with his audience. End of rant.

I also just love GMC. I am modeling my book on “Rewarding the Reader” on that book’s format. I want the same size chapters and number of pages as in GMC. As a copywriter, I believe that GMC is how to write a book for easy reading and maximum reader comprehension. (The content will be totally different).

You asked: “So tell me, did you hear angels like I did?”

I heard the angles many years ago. I also have it on very good authority (ipsi dixit) that the devil wants all writers to be pantsers. You may have the devil to pay! : )

Marry Christmas to all the Seeker Ladies and Walt and Captain Jack.


Anonymous said...

Thanks for the Christmas gift Tina. I promise that I will employ the chart on my WIP.

When it comes to following a synopsis - well, you know, I can't read a road map either. When I was a Realtor, I always mapped out my route, then drove it at five in the morning so I wouldn't look foolish in front of customers, teehee. This was before Garmin :).

I DO write a synopsis. I write a detailed synopsis. But I have a hard time staying on the road with it. The consequences: 1. My characters get into unexpected jams, so that the story becomes less character driven and more story driven. 2. I write forever, and ever, Amen! Like a 70,000 word manuscript becomes a bloated 90,000 words in need of hair-pulling, why did I do that, what was I thinking, editing. It's a colossal waste of time!

Is it like childbirth? Then I'm in trouble. The minute I gave birth, I was ready again. God granted me instant blocking of the pain memory. I think that's what's happening with my WIPs, lol. I keep forgetting the pain of 90,000. Am I being disobedient?

So, hand in the air - On my honor, I will do my best, to do my duty to My Heavenly Father and my synopsis and to obey the Hauge Six-Stage Plot Structure writing/synopsis law.

Merry Christmas!

Tina Radcliffe said...

Jo, you are soooo right. You nailed it in fact. Being a plotter is totally time consuming.

Tina Radcliffe said...

Kav I hope you feel better!!!

Mucinex. The wonder over the counter drug of choice.

Tina Radcliffe said...

Janet, only need 100 comments. 200 is a bit much to ask on a good shopping day.

Tina Radcliffe said...

Vince, good to see you my plotting hero!!!!

Mary Connealy said...

My agent is a synopsis savant. She will read it and start asking questions. She sees leaps of logic, unattractive or unheroic traits in the characters.

I'll say, "Oh, I see that but I promise in the actual BOOK it's all okay, he's not really a wimp."
She'll respond, "I trust you. I know it will be there, but it has to be IN THE SYNOPSIS TOO. And it's not."

It's really helped me look at a synopsis with clearer eyes.

Mary Connealy said...

And I've plotted books before. I can do it.

(I think-sort of)

Tina Radcliffe said...

And that reminds me..if you go to the Seekerville Town webpage, you can still get in the drawing for the Debra Dixon GMC book.

If you don't win you can purchase your own copy at the Gryphon web site

Do not attempt to buy this one on Amazon. Much too expensive as I believe Jackie pointed out, this giving me near cardiac arrest.

Tina Radcliffe said...

Mary, your brain is wired differently. Don't try anything new. We like the way you're doing it now and at Warp Speed too.

Tina Radcliffe said...

Essence. Essence is actualization. Who the hero really is. That person deep inside that he is afraid to step into.

So the internal conflict is the conflict between identity and essence.

Tina Radcliffe said...

Trust me. Get the CD or the DVD better yet.

Of course you'll never be able to watch a movie for pleasure again.

Well worth it.

Tax deductible.

Jan Drexler said...

Good morning Seekerville!

Mary, I agree with Tina - don't change a thing!

I'm also a lover of G.M.C. - it was the first writing book I bought. When I read it through the first time, I put sticky notes on the pages I wanted to go back and underline, and the book ended up looking like it had pink ruffled pages!

And being a plotter is only time consuming when you're starting a story. The actual writing and editing are where it pays off :)

Christmas cookies, anyone?

Susan Anne Mason said...

Merry Christmas, Tina!

Excellent post as usual. I've converted to a plotter, though maybe not to one as well thought out as your examples.

Right before NaNo, I plotted a whole bunch of scenes for my new story and that's what allowed me to finish the manuscript in 5 weeks! Because I knew where I was going.

Granted I did have to change the ending, because once I got into the character, I realized my heroine would never do what I had her do in the synopsis. So I had to come up with a different ending - one which I hope is just as good!

Don't enter me into the draw - I have those CD's (though I haven't listened to the whole thing yet! Maybe over the holidays!)

Wishing you all a wonderful, blessed Christmas (with extra time to write!)


Joanne Sher said...

Yes - GREAT post, Teensteer! I do believe I need this DESPERATELY (and, of course, the CD. PLEASE enter me!)

Merry Christmas, my dear Seekers and friends! :)

Eva Maria Hamilton said...

Tina, so glad you heard the angels sing! :)
I'm still a seat of the pants writer though... For now... For as long as I can hold out... :) Am I living in the bad section of Seekerville now? Lol

Eva Maria Hamilton at gmail dot com

Jeanne T said...

Tina, excellent post! As you've heard many times today. :) The thought of writing a book in the Pantster way scares me. :) Since I haven't had much experience with either form of writing, I'm going with what's comfortable. I love what you shared today. The map of the external and internal journeys helped me lots. I'll be writing a synopsis in the next month or so, this post is oh, so timely.

Loved reading your story of revelation. Have a wonderful Christmas, and enjoy those 40's we're supposed to get this weekend. :)

Gwendolyn Gage said...

Wow, this chart is great stuff! Thanks so much for sharing it! It will help me find inconsistencies within my plot. Merry Christmas!

Tina Radcliffe said...

No, Eva, actually we have a pink apartment complex that is for pantsers. It has a free therapist that comes with the rent along with electricity and water.

Casey said...




I came over here just to figure out your Christmas miracle was PLOTTING??

Sigh. You need help.

All joking aside, I actually used a bit of plotting from Myra's sheets on my last book and really enjoyed that.

Did I ultimately stick with it?


A bit fat, N.O.

But it was good for me. Gulp. I said that? It *was* good for me. ;-)

Congratulations on that "miracle" Tina. :D

Pat Jeanne Davis said...

Great info here,Tina. Thanks for posting it. So does this mean you'll always be plotting first now that you've seen the light? I need to know where things are going so I write a loose synopsis first. It's a guide to follow, saves some time later and it motivates me to write the book. And I need all the motivation I can receive. Sometimes I outline a difficult scene. But as I develop my idea and get to know the characters many things change. This works for me. The Hero's 2 Journeys is a great resource. Please include me in the drawing for Michael Hague's CD. Wishing you and the other Seekers a blessed Christmas and joyous new year.

Janet Kerr said...

This is a fantastic post,
I like the way you streamlined this Tina. I look forward to working on it.
Thanks again,
Jan K.

Carol Moncado said...

I'm just gonna pop in and say hi to help get to the 100.

I'm a pantser.

Reading this made me break out in hives.

No hallelujah chorus.

Just hives.

But count me in for the CDs anyway.


Vince said...

Hi Tina:


That should have been ipse dixit.

Cardinal sin: using a foreign term and getting it wrong. “mea culpa, mea culpa, mea maxima culpa”.


Myra Johnson said...

Oh, Tina. I'm with Helen--you've made my brain hurt!

And the thing is, I LIKE Michael Hague! I love the WHOLE IDEA of inner and outer journeys, moving into one's essence, the whole shebang!


True, when I sit down to start writing a new book, I basically know where it's going. I know the main conflict. I know several turning points. I know how (sort of) it will end.

What I DON'T know is how exactly the characters are going to move from point A to point B, etc. I learn that by writing. By discovery. By letting the characters become so real in my head that they do what comes naturally.

And usually it works. I haven't gone off on too many rabbit trails yet, and I usually end up exactly where I intended to.

So NO, I am not ready to come over to the dark side and become a true plotter.

The rest of you? Have at it...if you dare!

Christina said...

The best story I've never finished (actually working on it now) I started out with a synopsis plot. I've never been able to do it since, :( I'm hoping your blog will inspire me out of my funk.

Just got home from shopping and getting ready to head back out. It's what I get for waiting until the last minute. *g* But, hey, my kid asked why we weren't waiting until tomorrow (we always wait until Christmas Eve) so, I'm ahead of the game. *GGGG*

Anonymous said...

I just finished my shopping (is last minute shopping a pantsers personality trait?) and now I have to wrap, but I checked back here to read the new comments and, like Myrna, my head hurts, as does my stomach. As I was driving between stores, I decided I need a serious tutor. I'm feeling un-schooled and unable. That last one is a bad one. Maybe it's time to step away from the computer, lol. The clutter and chaos of last minute holiday activities is bleeding into my writing thought process.


Virginia said...

LyndeeH, your first post made me laugh out loud! I've given birth six times and I remember each time VIVIDLY. What on earth would happen if God gave me a memory block?? I'd probably have my own reality show. :P

Ah, Vince. To err is human, so I'll be divine and grant you fogiveness. And thanks for the heads up on the profanity. I don't mind a bit now and then... unless it's in that kind of situation where I feel the speaker is assuming we'll all appreciate it. I was in a training session once and the leader was foul-mouthed. It was very incomfortable. Some of the crowd laughed, and some squirmed. Very unprofessional.

Anyhoo, now MY rant is over!

Virginia said...

Sue, I loved your comment about having to rewrite because what the synopsis had the heroine doing, was not what she WOULD do, once you got to know her. :)

That's how I feel sometimes when I've got a good scene planned out. By the time I get to that point, my characters are different people than I started them out to be.

Jodi Janz said...

Wow. That was a lot to consume on a Friday afternoon - before Christmas none the less. Now I have to go back and redo my synopsis. Which is a good thing because it's really horrible!
I liked the six stages. It broke down the dreaded synopsis into bite size pieces.
I would love to see it broken down another step. To look over someone's six stages from a book I've read lately.
Does Michael Hauge break down a popular story or movie on the CD to show each step In action?

Please enter me in the draw for this CD. It will come in handy I am certain of it.

Cindy W. said...

What a great post Tina. I can always use as much help as anyone is willing to offer. Half the time I feel like a wild mustang in a corral bouncing off the fence and going in all directions. This could really help.

Merry Christmas to everyone in Seekerville and visitors as well!.

Smiles & Blessings,
Cindy W.


Linnette R Mullin said...

Merry Christmas, Seekerville! Thinking of each of you with a heart full of love. May your days be Merry and bright... :D

Missy Tippens said...

I'm so glad I'm not the only one who has been doing last minute shopping!! I feel better now. :)

I also feel better because I went and got a pedicure! Now I can face the holidays barefooted if I want to. :) (And at 65 degrees again today, I just may!)

Lyndee, I really cracked up over your post-partum memory loss. LOL That's the only way people would ever have more than one baby. :)

MaryC said...

Thanks, Tina. I'm desperately in need of a plotting miracle.

I loved Michael's workshop at RWA and his website is great. I'll definitely have to look into the DVD/CDs so please put me in the drawing.

Donna said...

What a helpful post! I really get a lot out of organized ideas like this.
Do you think you'll do this from now on, or are you afraid you'll revert back to the old way?
Please enter me!

Melanie Dickerson said...

Tina, you are making me shudder and cringe. (Yes, it is possible to do both at the same time.) I do not, do not like to write a synopsis before I've written most of the story. (And yes, I have just sold a book on a one-paragraph blurb, Hallelujah! But I can't talk about that yet.) But I recently had to write a synopsis for a book that I had hadn't even started writing. That was okay, not so bad. The terror began, however, after I'd written a few chapters and already the story was deviating from the synopsis/plot. I found myself writing recklessly, not my usual style at all. I'm sure it will turn out okay, but I may have to do some rewriting. Yikes. No. I do not like plotting on paper. It doesn't work as well for me. I need to plot in my head instead of relying on what's written down.

It's hard to explain. Just trust me, Tina!!!

And I hope you have an absolutely awesome Christmas! Merry, merry, merry Christmas! I didn't get any Christmas cards sent out this year, alas, but I still love everyone just as much as I did last year!!!

Tina Radcliffe said...

I didn't do Christmas cards either. But I still love you, Melly!!

Tina Radcliffe said...

65 degrees, you poor Southern girl.

Everyone is digging out in Denver and driving much too fast.

I stayed one step ahead of all the shoppers today. Went in Target and came out and no carts.

Tina Radcliffe said...

Jodi, Michael Hauge uses Shrek, Erin Brokovich and The Firm to break it down. In his workshops he uses the Jennifer Crusie book, Bet Me.

Cara Lynn James said...

Love this, Tina! Michael Hauge makes plotting much more bearable and much clearer--although it's never easy!

Have a merry Christmas everyone!!!!!!

Tina Radcliffe said...

Donna, I am on the dark side for good I think. With a full time day job I just can't waste valuable writing time spinning my wheels.

Janet Kerr said...

Hi there Tina,
I went over to see Michael Hauge's information on the hero's journey and I can see how well it applies to any genre. I am very excited about using it in my NaNoWriMo book.
Thanks for the giveaways too. You are very generous.
Jan K.

Christina said...

Went to mom's to take her car back and left with the peanunt butter and pie pan I forgot at the store earlier, so, I didn't have to go fight the madness. At least not yet. Tomorrow will be another story. I'm going to start my baking after a bit. I found a recipe for peppermint bark but I couldn't find the right candies. Hopefully the ones I got will work just fine.

Merry Christmas!

Walt Mussell said...

Tis the season and a Merry Christmas it looks to be.

I find plotting and synopsis writing helpful, though the thing I see the most is that what I end up writing varies greatly from what I intially set up.

Merry Christmas to all!!!

Christina said...

Okay, I had a bit of time to look over Hauge's chart, and here's the thing- my brain isn't normal. Seriously, I'm looking at this chart and I'm reading the vocabulary, and although I know what it all means, trying to put it all together is driving my over-analyizing brain nuts! Especially knowing that for romance we leave stage I out the door. So, could someone please give me an example of stage II.

Christina said...

Walt, I know what you mean. I like plotting using index cards, but then I usually end up setting them aside once they're filled and never look at them again. I'm not sure if that's because I have most of it in my head and don't need them or what.

Okay off to make haystacks. I'll check in later.

Tina Radcliffe said...


Tina Radcliffe said...

Thus the disclaimer, Christina. One size does NOT fit all.

So if it hurts your brain, let it go.

Tina Radcliffe said...

I love The Moral Premise. But my brain can't utilize it so I have to let that one go.

Eva Maria Hamilton said...

Well, pink is a nice color :)

Pepper said...

Great post, Tina
I have Hauge's pdf on my computer and printed out at my desk - just to remind me of my direction...
but angels singing?

Right now I'd be happy with some gentle humming of the little blue engine that sounds like "I think I can, I think I can" :-)

Merry Christmas!

Audra Harders said...

Oh my goodness, Tina! You've come to appreciate the P word!! Yep, I thought I heard the angels sing...many times through the day, LOL!

You've packed lots of info in a very timely blog post. I'm going to go back and re-read it a few times.

And then I'm going to print it out and save it.

And post it on my wall.

And pray the wisdom seeps into my brain.

Now THAT would be a Christmas miracle!

Merry Christmas everyone!!

Jamie Adams said...

Back from shopping and had time to check out the links. My laptop froze. I'm not sure it's a sign I'm not ready to become a plotter or if I need to stay on that page till I get it.

Tina Radcliffe said...

Well Peps it took me three years and listening to the workshops over and over a thousand time before I stepped over to the dark there's no rush.

Tina Radcliffe said...

Ha, Jamie. Seriously, no rush, print it out, put it under your pillow and it's like osmosis.

Janet Kerr said...

Hi Tina,
I am going to print this one out. Even though I have seen this idea of the Hero's Journey when I go to apply it to a manuscript much of it escapes me. I think that I need to hear it over and over until it sinks in!
Thanks again,
Jan K.

Anonymous said...

Virginia and Missy,
Glad I made you laugh re delivery amnesia. I had both my kids naturally, too. No drugs. I must have been at the height of crazy.

Just got back from viewing Christmas lights. A family tradition. Seems like, despite the economy, there are a ton of lights on in the area neighborhoods. It really warms my heart to see so many people celebrating Christ's birthday by lighting their home and many listing scriptures on signs in their yards. Wow.


Christina said...

Thanks for the permission, Tina. I keep hoping one day someone will teach a plotting system that I understand, but since I thrive in organized chaos, I'm not sure that is possible.

Christina said...

After reading Janet's comment it reminded me of how I can easily see all the parts of The Hero's Journey in movies, but I have such difficulty applying it to my writing.


Jamie Adams said...

LOL Tina, I guess I'll just have to sleep on it then.

Jamie Adams said...

what are the odds of getting eleven more post in half an hour without spamming... not good

Christina said...

Jamie, you're funny! I was thinking the same thing. I'm in between baking and taking a break from my knitting project that I need to have done by Christmas morning and I'm bored. I keep jumping from email to facebook to Seekerville and back again.

Jamie Adams said...

I'm actually writing! I'm working on a scene that is similar to one I wrote years ago in a short story. I'm stealing ideas from myself... kinda

Christina said...

Lyndee, I went through four labors. Two were completely natural, no drugs. The last I had one contraction an hour, which I did not feel so I had to have something to induce (can't remember the name) after 24 hrs on staying awake waiting for my child to come into the world the nurse gave me pain medication, not that I needed it, but she wanted me to relax and sleep. She didn't even have the needle out of the IV before I could push. Everyone was a bit surprised, especially the doctor who delivered dd with one gloved hand and no scrubs.

As for the amnesia thing, I remember the nurse rolling me down the hall with my fourth and last and I heard a woman cry out in labor. I recalled every bit of pain and discomfort. I looked at dh with tears in my eyes and told him I didn't want to do this and I was ready to go home now. I was dead serious. He smiled and informed me it was too late to go back.

Janet Kerr said...

You are right on! When I watch the hero's journey in a movie or read it, the in/out journey makes sense although I am checking the timing of each step.... Minutes for movies and pages for books.
Oh dear, such a lot to learn!

Jamie Adams said...

Christina, when it comes to fight or flight I'm not much of a fighter. During my first C-section I told the doctor to let me off the table cause I changed my mind.

Christina said...

Janet, in 09 I went to the Romance Writer's conference in DC and several of us lounged in the room with several books we'd read page such and such out of each book. I can't remember what page numbers we chose but say like every book on page 82 had a kissing scene. It was weird. So, I know what you're saying about counting minutes and page numbers. Chasing that forumla that doesn't exist. *g*

Anonymous said...

Christina, probably pitocin to induce the labor, which is a hard labor, from what my daughter in law tells me.

You reminded me of one of my friends who told me that on the way to the hospital all she could think about was that she'd rather be shopping, LOL.


MaryC said...

I was coming back to post a comment just to help reach 100, but then I remembered something actually helpful.

A few friends were lucky enough to attend the DC RWA workshop with Michael Hauge in early November, and Gwen posted this on her blog from that 2 day seminar.

"When two characters are in conflict, it’s at the level of identity; when they’re connected, it’s at the level of essence."

Gwen said that was a huge A HA moment for her and it was for me too. It helped clarify conflict within the 6 stage structure.

If anyone wants to read more of Gwen's report it's here -

Christina said...

Jamie, I think it depends on the situation. In October we had a shooting on our street. Actually at the house my dd had been at only minutes before for a birthday party. I had that 'feeling' prayed, she came home and then the entire county sheriff office, plus a few Highway patrolmen swarmed our block. When they pulled us out telling us we were involved (we called 911) my fight came out. There was no way I was allowing my children to be blamed for something they were no part of. Other times I flight.

MaryC said...

Lyndee, your daughter-in-law is SO right. One labor with pit and one without and WOW what a difference in how hard.

Anonymous said...

OK, so I guess I need to go help dh because he's literally about to burn the house down while making potato salad! Ugh....


Christina said...

MaryC, thank you! Just what little bit you shared is a huge A-Ha moment. Off to check out the link.

Jamie Adams said...

That's very true Christian there are certain situations that would bring the fighter out.

Christina said...

Lyndee, I just remember the labor with drugs was sooooo much worse. Now, would I rather be shopping . . . hmmmm that is debatable since I don't like to shop, well unless it's a book store.

Anonymous said...

I can't believe the fire alarm didn't go off! He leaned into the burner and burned a hole the size of my head in his white dress shirt! Yeegads! Praising God that he wasn't hurt, but the kitchen is filled w smoke, so I'm staying in the office, lol.


Anonymous said...

Christina, I'm not a shopper either. I tell my dh that he's a lucky man - I hate shopping and love football. :)
Hey, it's worked for 33 years of marriage, lol.


Jamie Adams said...

I was on pitocin for thirteen hours with nothing progressing before they decided to do something. I was like give me the knife already, I'll do it.

Christina said...

Lyndee, praise God he wasn't hurt and the house wasn't burned down.

I love football, too!

Vince said...

Hi Tina:

I’m with you on the “Moral Premise”. The author spends a high percentage of the book proving that his theory is not original. It is interesting philosophy but not of any appreciable use to the writer.

The pragmatic aspects of the “Moral Premise” are:

1. Develop a strong Moral Premise.
2. Let this premise underpin each action in the story.

That’s it.

The author’s antidotal evidence shows that movies with a strong moral premise do better at the box office; however, a strong moral premise by itself will not make your story a success. It’s like this:

If you don’t have enough fuel to fly from New York to Boston, you won’t make it to Boston
if you have enough fuel to fly from New York to Boston, that alone does not mean you will make it to Boston.

I do like the history of philosophy that makes up the first part of the book. The footnotes are also very interesting. But I'm with you as far as using the material to help me write a romance. : )


Tina Radcliffe said...

Oh my you guys did it!!!! Woot. I am going to go pick a second winner.

Heather Day Gilbert said...

Thanks so much for this! Very timely, as I'm trying to nail my synopsis, but have been rather clueless as to what I need to include/exclude.

Mystica said...

Wishing you a wonderful Christmas from down under.

Edwina said...

This is great...I think even I could actually write a synopsis now. maybe.

Linda Cacaci said...

So informative and so helpful! Please enter me in the drawing.
Linda Cacaci