Wednesday, September 4, 2013

Crossing Australia with Guest Jennifer Delamere


First, I’d like to extend my thanks to the Seekers for inviting me to be here today! I always get so much from this blog, and it’s an honor to be able to share. I want to talk about a topic that’s near and dear to my heart—the keys I learned about storytelling that finally made me brave enough to try writing an entire novel.


I’ve spent many years as an editor of educational materials. I learned to organize information and present it in a coherent structure. I became adept at fixing grammar errors and revising sentences for clarity. However, for years I did not think I had the ability to write fiction.


Does that seem surprising? It’s true. I could think of an interesting beginning to a story, and often visualize how I wanted it to end. But what about the rest of the book? What is that mysterious process of getting the characters through a set of circumstances and telling a story that will engage and entertain the reader?


I’m not the only author to face this problem. Maureen Johnson once compared writing a novel to traveling across Australia . Since colonial Australia plays an important part in the backstory of Tom Poole, the hero in my upcoming novel A Lady Most Lovely, it seemed like a good analogy to use here.


Who doesn’t want to get to know this hero better? But I digress...


Australia is a vast continent—just like your story. Maybe you know what’s on the two “coasts,” but finding your way across that vast interior—thousands of miles of wilderness—is a daunting problem indeed. As Maureen rightly points out, the Middle is where you will be spending most of your time as a writer. For many authors it looms, unknown and scary.




Yikes!

So how do we keep the journey in perspective and successfully navigate our way? 

For me, the answer came when I discovered a book by Blake Snyder called Save the Cat! 




Not only is it charming and funny, it demystified the process of how to tell a ripping good story. (It’s also less daunting and more entertaining than a heavier tome like The Writer’s Journey.) Once I understood the basics of story structure, the process of creating storylines for my books became exciting and fun and—most important of all—doable.






Whew, that’s better!


The information in Save the Cat! is really not new. It is the bones of western storytelling. It is what makes a book or film we love so satisfying. That is why, although it was written for screenwriters, its principles are just as valuable for writing fiction.

What follows is a brief and very broad overview of the elements story structure. It’s the basic rhythm of any well-told story.


A. The inciting incident—this is where your character’s story really begins. Something is going to change the world as they know it and set them on a new path.



B. For about the first quarter of the book, you are introducing your characters and their lives to the reader. Their goals, dilemmas, and challenges emerge.



C. At about the 25% mark, you reach the first turning point, something that takes the action in a new direction. Often this is where the hero or heroine decide to accept some task or confront some challenge. They have a specific, tangible goal. They are stepping away from their life as they’ve known it and venturing into something new.



D. At the 50% mark (the midpoint), there will be a huge moment, a major event. You want to convince the reader that from here on out there’s no turning back. Your characters are fully committed to the course they've taken. They've changed in some significant way. In a romance, this can be when the hero and heroine admit they love each other—or it is at least obvious to the reader. It’s often the place where they have their first kiss (or do more, in steamier novels). Their problems are still far from solved, however. These events only raise the stakes.



E. Around the 75% mark is the “black moment.” Screenwriters call it “all is lost.” The goals your characters have been striving for seem hopelessly out of reach. In romance, events have separated your hero and heroine physically or emotionally, and the gulf between them is impossibly wide.


F. At about the 90% mark is what Blake Snyder calls the “moment of clarity” . I’ve heard author Christie Ridgway refer to it as the “Aha!” moment. It’s the moment when the hero (and/or heroine) realizes what the journey has been about. They understand what is truly important in their lives. Often their original goal falls by the wayside as they move forward with this new understanding of themselves and their situation.


G. The final push to the end; story resolution. In romance, the hero and heroine break through the last of their obstacles and achieve their happy ever after.


These are just the broad strokes. I encourage you to build on this and solidify your understanding of story structure. I also recommend two books by Alexandra Sokoloff: Screenwriting Tips and Tricks for Authors, and Writing Love (which specifically covers romance).


Whether you are a “plotter” or a “pantser,” applying these principles can only make your storytelling more compelling and powerful. If you are a pantser, think of these elements in very broad strokes, like signposts you are aiming for as you write. It is also a great tool for editing.


Above all, don’t think of this as a “formula.” Think of it as a set of tools to help you tell your unique story and make it as entertaining and memorable as it can be. When it’s time to travel across Australia, don’t leave home without it.


So how about you? Have you ever been daunted by the “muddy middle” or by the idea of learning story structure? Are there any elements that still mystify you? I’ll be happy to provide specific examples of these turning points from movies and books in the comments.



Jennifer's Bio:


The youngest child of a Navy pilot and a journalist, Jennifer Delamere acquired a love of adventure and an excitement for learning that continues to this day. She’s lived in three countries and traveled throughout the United States. Her debut novel An Heiress at Heart was chosen by Grand Central Publishing to be the first inspirational romance for their Forever imprint and was nominated for the Romance Writers of America RITA® Award. 



Jennifer loves reading classics and histories, which she mines for the vivid details to bring to life the people and places in her books. She resides with her husband in North Carolina—where, when not dreaming up romantic adventures for her characters, she can be found fantasizing about her next European vacation. For more information about Jennifer’s books, blog, and mailing list, visit www.jenniferdelamere.com. You can also find Jennifer on Facebook and Twitter.


Today Jennifer will be giving away 2 copies of A Lady Most Lovely, which releases on September 24. (She'll send them out as soon as her author copies arrive!) Please leave a comment to be entered. Winner announced in the Weekend Edition.





Margaret Vaughn is the wealthiest heiress in London—or so everybody thinks. Saddled with debts and facing financial and social humiliation, she finds an unlikely savior in Tom Poole . . . After amassing a fortune in the gold fields of Australia, Tom Poole is the toast of London society. Yet despite his new found fame, he’s never forgotten his own humble beginnings. When he learns of Margaret’s plight, he offers her financial assistance—but his interest is not strictly business. This rugged adventurer now seeks a different kind of gold. Although many men pursue Margaret’s hand because of her beauty and lands, can Tom convince her it’s her heart he’s after?



Seekerville has discovered that Jennifer's  Romance Writers of America RITA® Award nominated novel. An Heiress at Heart  is on sale at Amazon for Kindle.



85 comments :

  1. Hi Jennifer, Im laughing at the first map of Australia. Some of the tags are a little out but its right!
    The second shows South Austraila. I am south of Adelaide near the Victorian border.
    I loved yor furst book and really want to read Toms story.

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  2. Cool post! I have a similar problem to the one that you had-my mind can come up with several story ideas but I'm lost after that! I have no skill whatsoever when it comes to bringing a story to fruition. So I'm quite content not even try and enjoy reading!

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  3. Jenny- I've been fascinated by Australia for years. I was especially intrigued to read that the Bass Strait is known for its history of shipwrecks. The coast of North Carolina, where I live, has a similar history. I'd love to visit Australia someday. South Aus. and Victoria are high on the list of places I'd like to see!

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  4. Good morning Jennifer,

    Thanks for sharing these concise story-telling tips.

    Love the map of Australia.

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  5. Abbi- Thanks for reading and commenting! Like most writers I am an avid reader and love to immerse myself in a great book. In a well-told story these elements should be seamless and invisible. It's like a safari where someone else does the planning and the heavy lifting, and we can go along for the ride and enjoy the new sights and the adventure!

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  6. Between this post today, and yesterday's post, I'm thinking I'd better work on getting this ms done lol! Thanks for the great posts. Thanks for this one breaking it down into percentages. I love it! One question, for someone unpublished, would you say only enter contests to see how you do, or submit an ms when you see a request? Have a great Seekerville day everybody!

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  7. Jennifer!!! An early bird. Welcome. Coffee pot is on and I am bringing warm banana bread in your honor.

    Recipe to share:

    2c flour
    1 tsp soda
    1/2 tsp baking soda
    1 tsp cinnamon
    1/2 tsp allspice
    1/1/2 c sugar
    1/2 cup butter
    2 eggs
    3 large bananas mashed
    1 tsp vanilla
    1 c chopped pecans NO WALNUTS

    Add dry ingredients to bowl. In another bowl cream butter and sugar, and add vanilla, eggs and mashed bananas. Add dry ingredients and pecans. Pour into greased loaf pan. Bake one hour at 350 degrees.

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  8. "or submit an ms when you see a request?"

    What does this mean, Sally?

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  9. Jennifer, the burning question here is what came first the chicken or the egg? How did writing a faith story for a secular publisher come about?

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  10. Jennifer, I love the cover of your new book! I'm in need of some new craft books, so I will be checking out your recommendations. Great post!

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  11. Oh, I am so excited Jennifer is here. Jennifer and I breathe the same air in the same town. Not only is she a great writer but a great person just to hang with at Panera!

    Jennifer, I really needed your post this morning. I am printing it off for sure as I sit down and revise.

    Can't wait for your next book! And y'all, is that a gorgeous cover or what? The cover fairies have again been kind.

    Peace, Julie



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  12. Panera and a RITA finaling author. Color me GREEN?

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  13. Great post jennifer! I'm wallowing in the muddy middle of my MS right now, but it's fun. :-) i'll check out your book recommendation.

    Julie, there's no better place to hang out with a friend than Paneras! :-) A friend and I used to go there so often and stay so long, we thought they might start charging rent on the table :-D

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  14. Jennifer, I love this. I'm coming back to study it more. I got caught up in my muddle in the middle with my current WIP. It took the gentle tugs and encouragements and brainstorms of a friend to discover why I got stuck. Once I figured it out, I was able to keep moving.

    I love your structure. I tend to be a structured writer as well. This post is a printer-off-er for me! Thanks for sharing your wisdom!

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  15. I just got an Heiress at Heart and I can't wait to read it. Great post Jennifer. For a pantser like me, some of this is mind boggling. And I thought all that "percent stuff" just sort of happened. Wow. Lots of merit to some good planning.

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  16. Tina, sometimes when you are on a publisher's website, they will ask for submissions. Is it a good idea to go ahead and submit and see what happens? Or wait until you've entered contests and received feedback on your writing? Thanks for your input. I appreciate it.

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  17. Tina, sometimes when you are on a publisher's website, they will ask for submissions. Is it a good idea to go ahead and submit and see what happens? Or wait until you've entered contests and received feedback on your writing? Thanks for your input. I appreciate it.

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    1. If your msc is the best it can be submit. You must decide if you need contest feedback, a critiqe group or a Beta reader.

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  18. Welcome to Seekerville, Jennifer! Thanks for the getting us across Australia without wandering in circles.

    Yes, I've faltered finding my way through the story's middle. LOL I'm guessing most writers have experienced the same. Story structure helps me plan the novel, see the places I must raise the stakes for the characters.

    I'd love to see you use a movie to show the Save The Cat turning points.

    The covers of your novels are gorgeous! Congrats on the Rita final!

    Janet

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  19. Tina, thanks for the delicious banana bread!

    Janet

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  20. I'm totally interested in delving more into STC. It's a method I have barely touched.

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  21. Jennifwr, tell us how your books tie into the series. What's next?

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  22. Hi everyone-sorry for the delay, but I got waylaid by a herd of kangaroos. Is that the right word--herd? Or is it a "bounce" of kangaroos? But I've found a way station again and can't wait to try that yummy banana bread!

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  23. Jackie--that map always makes me chuckle, although I think it's a *teeny bit* exaggerated.

    Sally, definitely enter contests for the feedback. If you feel your manuscript is complete and in good shape, don't hesitate to submit it to agents editors.

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  24. Karen, I'm glad this could be of help! I can't recommend those books highly enough.

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  25. Tina, my getting together with Grand Central was a moment of serendipity that was definitely an example of God's timing. When my agent signed me, she tweeted that she was happy to have a new client who wrote historical inspirationals. The editor at Grand Central happened to see that tweet and requested to see the manuscript. We had no idea that they were looking for an inspy. I wrote more about that event on a blog I wrote for Novel Spot: http://novelspot.net/node/5248

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  26. Julie, thanks so much for the kind words! I love when we can hang out together. I fully expect to see your books in print soon! :)

    Mary and Tina, Panera is my favorite writing hangout. I need food when I write! Somehow for me the two are mysteriously linked.

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  27. Jeanne, in that post of Maureen Johnson that I referenced, she pointed out that there are lots of fellow authors traveling the muddy middle together--glad when we can be of help to one another!

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  28. Cindy, I think pantsers do a lot of this "organically" -- though it is also a great tool for revising.

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  29. Janet, I'm working on a short breakdown of a movie to post this afternoon if I can.

    The Blake Snyder website also has great blogs that break down a number of movies. www.blakesnyder.com.

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  30. Tina, the third and final book in this series will come out next year. It will be James Simpson's story. (He's the cousin of the heroine in An Heiress at Heart.) He's a ladies' man and a confirmed bachelor, and no one will be more surprised than he is at the woman who steals his heart!

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  31. Jennifer, all of this is laid out so well. I'll just say this.

    I think a lot of writers do almost all of this instinctively.

    Is that a fair statement?

    You can tell me if I'm wrong.

    But the inciting incident....I call that 'Explode your story.'
    I've learned this language just from hanging out in the writer's world now, inciting incident, okay. Turning point. okay. Accepting the challenging, starting on the journey. Okay.
    But I just explode my story. Shove my hero and heroine together physically and try to do it in a why they can't escape while shoving them apart emotionally. So they're trapped together, hopefully attracted to each other while at the same time they loathe each other or some conflict that is so awful that only true love can over come it.

    I know what you're all thinking.


    It's no wonder it took her ten years to get published.

    Sorry.

    Great post Jennifer. Learn from it, People. Save yourself some pain!

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  32. PS I've seen that Australia map before.
    If you haven't done it, Seekervillagers, take the time to read it closely. It's so funny and it's said that the map was made by the Australian Department of Tourism as a joke because of all the terrible questions they get asked about Australia.

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  33. Jennifer said, "I think a lot of pansters do this 'organically.'"
    That is such a nice way to say it.

    So much better than saying, "Pansters stumble along until hopefully they find a way through the muck they have made of their story."

    Thank you!

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  34. Hi Jennifer, Welcome to Seekerville. I really enjoyed your post. Screenwriting (including Save The Cat) really improved my writing 100 % Actually I love screenwriting. It is really fun because the middles do go with less effort.

    Have fun today. Thanks again for joining us.

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  35. Thanks, Jennifer. Fun post. I find all things about Australia interesting.
    Congratulations on your upcoming release!

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  36. Hi Jennifer, I enjoyed your post. I've been wadding in the middle of my current story for too long. Now with some direction I'll head for the dark moment. I hate to take them there but it can't be helped :)

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  37. btw Jennifer, I love your covers. Just beautiful.

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  38. Hey, Jennifer ... WELCOME TO SEEKERVILLE!!

    And like Mary said above, I LOVE your covers!!

    LOVE this post because like you, I prefer quirky and clever writing lessons rather than stodgy ones!!

    Just bought An Heiress at Heart -- super congrats on the Rita nom!!

    Hugs,
    Julie

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  39. Mary,
    Yes, many of us use this structure instinctively because humans have been telling stories this way for thousands of years. I am not a "pantser," though--I need that map before starting out, although I'm not averse to taking side trips along the way.
    I love that phrase “Explode your story.”—definitely we should drop the characters into the action right from page 1, paragraph 1. Grab the reader’s attention right from the start and hold on.
    “Shove my hero and heroine together physically and try to do it in a way they can't escape while shoving them apart emotionally.” –that’s a fabulous key! “A Lady Most Lovely” is a marriage-of-convenience story, so this is a perfect description of what I was trying to accomplish.
    I think it’s hilarious that that map was put together by Australian Tourism. What a great sense of humor! I’m sure they get plenty of crazy questions.
    And thanks for the comment on the covers. I love them too! I’ve been thrilled to have such great ones.

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  40. It’s great to see you here today. What an amazing post and I’m awed by how you broke things down into percentages. While I tried to not let it go over my head, I did realize that it’s a good thing that you’re the writer and I’m just the reader! The maps were quite clever too. I’ll bet a lot of Australian authors would get a kick out of that.

    I cannot tell you how much I am looking forward to reading A LADY MOST LOVELY. When I read AN HEIRESS AT HEART, I absolutely loved it! Would love to read it and post a review on our blog, bookworm2bookworm.

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  41. Sandra, I love screenwriting too! I'm actually working on a screenplay right now. It's a contemporary romantic comedy. I love it because the focus is on the action and dialogue, two of my stronger points.

    Amy, thanks so much for the kind words!

    Jamie, I hate to take my characters to the dark moment too! But I'm always happy to think about how much more they'll enjoy their happy ever after when they get there.

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  42. Julie, thanks for the kind words and the congratulations. The RITA nomination was certainly thrilling and I was awed to be included with such great writers.
    One thing I love about the Seekerville posts is the generous dash of humor they always have. Definitely makes learning more fun! I'm a big fan of your posts, especially the ones on writing romantic passion. Showing the intensity of the romance is something I always strive for, and your posts are hugely helpful!

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  43. Thanks for the link on your journey. Amazing God thing!!!

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  44. Jennifer! I love all of your book covers! I think they are really beautiful! I also would LOVE to read your books! I am trying to get a copy of your first one! I am really interested! I can't wait!

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  45. Connie, I'm so glad you enjoyed "An Heiress at Heart." I loved being on the bookworm2bookworm blog last year. Would be lovely to work out something like that again.

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  46. Tina, yes it is amazing how perfectly things came together. I see it as proof of the adage that you should write the kind of books you want to read, and believe that God is working in you and you will see success.
    I will say that writing inspirationals for a secular publisher involves keeping a delicate balance. I have to remain aware that the books are primarily marketed to mainstream readers who worry (incorrectly) that inspirational books will “preach” to them. By the same token, at times inspy readers may feel the faith elements aren't strong enough. Mainly I just focus on staying true to the characters. The Victorians definitely approached everything in life from a Christian world view, so writing in that era naturally lends itself to discussions of the characters’ faith. I keep it as intrinsic to the story as I possibly can.
    Book 3 will have a lighter tone, for sure. I've been having a blast writing it!

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  47. Save the Cat sounds like a fun way to learn information that could be boring in a textbook format. And I love the cover :) Looking forward to reading your book on sale at amazon- great deal!

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  48. I'm not a writer, only a reader, but seeing those basic steps of a story line written out makes sense.

    It seems lately in reading I have struggled getting into the story. Maybe a bit too much time introducing/developing the character. But if I stick with it I'm always glad as the story finally picks up!

    I happened to pick up A Lady Most Lovely in a used book store and thoroughly enjoyed it. Looking forward to this next story.

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  49. Sia, thanks for giving my books a try!

    Heidi, thank you for mentioning the Amazon sale. I didn't realize that An Heiress at Heart is still on sale for 99 cents on Kindle. I hope Kindle readers will grab it while they can!

    Patty, some books do start slow and pick up later, but I think the author risks losing readers who don't take the trouble to keep reading. As a reader I like the books that grab me from the opening line.

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  50. Seekerville mentioned the sale at the end of the blog post. Quite a deal for a RITA finalist book!


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  51. How terrific that you also write screenplays. For me it's been a great way to learn plotting. I am a huge Michael Hauge fan and I learned screenplay plotting with the basic books by Linda Seger and Syd Field.

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  52. Tina, Michael Hauge's teachings are great. I have read Syd Field's stuff but not Linda Seger. I'll have to check out her books.

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  53. Here’s a very brief breakdown of the movie “Miss Congeniality.” Hope this is not too long for the comments. I used the A-G lettering from above for reference. Warning: SPOILERS!

    A.-B. We see Sandra Bullock’s character in flashback as tomboy, then fast-forward to her as an FBI agent surrounded by men. We see her at work and at home (where she lives and eats alone). Sandra declares she doesn’t have to worry about being “feminine” because she’s an agent, but we also see she has an interest in another agent (Eric) although she won’t admit it. Eric likes the “girly” girls. Then Sandra is picked to go undercover to stop a murder threat at the Miss USA Pageant.
    C. Can Sandra pull it off? They have to convince her, then come up with a plan for how to pass her off as a contestant. She meets her mentor, the character played by Michael Caine. Then all the hilarious stuff she goes through during her makeover. She is definitely leaving the world as she knows it and stepping into something new!
    D. The midpoint of this movie is the “almost” kiss between her and Eric. Also, Sandra has really come to care for the other contestants and is now personally invested in keeping them safe.
    E. The black moment: Sandra clashes with her mentor, says “You don’t know me,” and yet she’s really beginning to doubt herself. Then she discovers that the operation is being cancelled because the FBI think they already have the killer. Eric doesn’t stand up for her. She thinks the killer is still at large and decides to stay on, even though she must do so as a civilian not an FBI agent. Everyone else leaves her.
    F. Moment of clarity: When Sandra says she used to be one of those who looked down on pageant contestants but now realizes they are talented and committed women. Her life has been made better because of her interactions with them. She’s starting to realize that it’s possible to be both smart and sexy.
    G. Eric and the mentor realize Sandra was right and return in time to help her nab the killer. We see Sandra’s newfound confidence in herself and see a glimpse of Sandra and Eric’s budding relationship. The opening started with her surrounded by men only, but the closing shot shows her with all her new women friends. What a change!

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  54. Super helpful post, Jennifer - - thank you so much! (in fact, I jotted down notes as I read)

    Congratulations on your book being a RITA finalist--WOW!! :)

    Please enjoy the warm peach cobbler I just took out of the oven (served with vanilla ice cream, if you like). ;)

    Blessings from Georgia, Patti Jo

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  55. There are cooks who put WALNUTS in banana bread???

    ... but, I digress.

    JENNIFER -- So glad to see a writer like you with a secular publisher, and so glad to see recognition that the market exists. There are a lot of inspirationals that aren't 'heavy handed' and there are a lot of gentle romances with characters who lead moral lives. Nice to see the bridges between the two being built. Thank you for sharing your talent!

    I'll add my "great covers!" to those that have posted before me.

    Nancy C

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  56. Jennifer, thank you for being our guest today, and welcome from another North Carolinian! Congratulations on your RITA final!

    "The moment of clarity"--I love that phrase. It's the perfect description of what we need to bring a story to its satisfying conclusion. Save the Cat sounds like a fun craft book!

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  57. Thank you so much for your breakdown of the movie via Save the Cat!!!!

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  58. Thanks for the post, Jennifer. I personally can't break up a story the way you do, into turning points and clarity and all that, but I'm glad the system works for you. :-)

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  59. Thanks for the tips, Jennifer. Such timely information - I needed to be reminded about all of this! I just purchased your Heiress novel.

    ~Cecelia Dowdy~
    http://ceceliadowdy.com/blog/

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  60. Hi Jennifer! Thanks for the post! I printed it out for later reference and I'm enjoying the discussion today as I try to wrap my head around these concepts! Congrats on your Rita nod and love the book jackets.

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  61. Thanks for the tips, Jennifer! I am WAY into plotting, and often find myself at a loss of what to write next when I sit down to do some writing. If I can plot it out like you've shown, I think it will make those writing times pass much more productively!

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  62. Hi Jennifer,

    Thanks for a great post. I never heard of Save the Cat or the percentages. But I had to look at my current WIP, and yes, there was the first kiss on page 149 and the other shoe is about to fall. Guess I stumbled onto it.

    I just put An Heiress at Heart on my kindle. Victorian England is one of my favorite settings.

    But I have to tell you if I was on one side of Australia and had to get to the other side, I'd probably skirt around the coast. Even with all the sharks, it looks safer.

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  63. Patti Jo, the peach cobbler is fabulous! With ice cream? yes, please! :) Glad the post was helpful!

    Nancy, I totally agree that there are readers out there who want these kinds of stories. I know my publisher has at least one more author ready to launch next year, and I hope we'll see even more in the future.

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  64. Myra, lately I've been paying particular attention to the "moment of clarity" that I find in books and movies. It's so satisfying when it is done well. The hero or heroine see themselves and their situation in a new light, and we as the readers/audience see how they’ve changed for the better. And it brings us joy too because we’re so happy for them!

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  65. Naomi, I know a bestselling author who breaks into hives if you start to discuss story structure. We have to find the process that works for us.

    Cecilia, I'm glad the post was helpful for you. And thanks for reading an Heiress at Heart--enjoy!

    Lyndee, these concepts take some time to digest. The best way to do it is to start looking for some of these turning points in books and movies as you enjoy them.

    Stephanie-yes these are like wonderful sign posts to aim for and can definitely help you if you're at a loss for where to take the story.

    Elaine- As I mentioned, much of this can be organic. Seems like a sign you are on the right track! I love the Victorian era--the world was changing drastically. Must have been an amazing time to live through.

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  66. Great post, Jennifer. You have the most beautiful covers!!

    Thanks for sharing!

    Cheers,
    Sue

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  67. No swimming with the sharks you all!!!!

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  68. Jennifer, I'm in love with the first map... and the SAVE THE CAT theory.

    That's a language I can talk, although I'm more of a big dog person. But I get it!!!!

    You know, Dan Brown used a formulaic plan similar to this to produce his books... and while I'm not a fan of Dan Brown, I see the sensibility of breaking down the story and seeing the parts.

    I have kids who work this way and they can relate to the story better by seeing the graph/plan/chart whatever you'd like to call it in their heads.

    Jennifer, I'm so glad you were here today!

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  69. Sue, thank you for commenting. Yes, I love the covers! I can't stop looking at Tom! LOL He was so intriguing to write because he's what you might call an "alpha" male and yet he's also struggling to walk according to his newly found Christian faith. It made for some interesting situations!

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  70. Ruthie, I've always been a "cat" person, although I have known some wonderful dogs too. I've read 2 of Dan Brown's books and enjoyed the "page turner" aspects of them immensely. Clearly he's doing something the readers love.

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  71. Definitely do not swim with the sharks. (The sharks with "frickin' lasers!) Although if you go by boat, remember there are those shipwrecks to contend with...looks like going to Australia is an adventure any way you look at it! :)

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  72. Welcome Jennifer! I'm so glad you joined us today. I'm sorry I'm so late to join in. Crazy day!

    This is a great post, and a nice remember of Save the Cat. The book made a lot of sense to me and was helpful.

    Also loved An Heiress at Heart!!

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  73. I have to disagree, Tina. YES on walnuts in banana bread! :)

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  74. Hi, Missy! So glad you enjoyed the book! It was wonderful meeting you at the RWA conference this summer.

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  75. Thanks again to the Seekers for having me here today, and to all who commented and made me feel so welcome. It's been a blast!

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  76. I just zipped over and got 'An Heiress At Heart'. Thanks again, Jennifer for a timely post. :-)

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  77. Yes, I have a muddling middle problem sometimes. I sometimes write the beginning and the end and then find a way to meet in the middle.

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  78. As an Australian I had to laugh at the comparison. Appropriate though.

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  79. Love the book, Jennifer!! Beautiful cover and book sounds great. Thank you for the opportunity to participate in the giveaway. Please enter my name in the giveaway. Thank you!!
    Barbara Thompson
    barbmaci61(at)yahoo(dot)com

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  80. I also thought, after years of writing essays, that I couldn't do fiction, until I heard the phrase "character driven plot". I guess I'm a pantser - once I have my characters (Jennifer's first quarter of the book) they take over and tell the story for me. I produced a goodly number of short stories that way.
    A I read Jennifer's outline, I reviewed my just finished first novel against her suggested structure - and found that it fit. One more bit of encouragement (added to the satisfaction of my beta readers) to get it on out of my hands.

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  81. Enjoyed the post, Jennifer. I like your suggestion to think of the guidance you provided from Saving the Cat as tools rather than a formula. Most of my difficulties are with raising the stakes before the black moment. The cover on your books are lovely and they sound like those I enjoy.

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  82. I really enjoyed your practical suggestions for writing!

    Please enter me!!

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  83. Saving the Cat sounds like a great book. I find myself writing the beginning and the end and then I end up slogging through the middle.

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