Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Piecing Together A Story Puzzle


 
If you’ve been exploring the craft of writing any time at all, you’ve most likely heard of the necessity of establishing a strong GMC (Goal, Motivation, Conflict) that will carry your story through from beginning to end. You’ve heard about the importance of inciting incident, building tension, black moment, climax, and resolution—and know GMC is evident both internally and externally.
These are all story structure essentials (and you’ll find a number of helpful blog posts in the Seekerville archives on all these topics). These form the parameters of a story puzzle--the border that holds it all together--as well as the critical focal points within the story. Most boxed puzzles have a primary “what’s it about” focus. A person, place or thing. You’ve seen them—with a picture on the front of the finished product.
But writers don’t have the advantage of “seeing” the story in all its gloried detail from beginning to end when they first think of an idea. At best, they may envision a shadowy character, situation, scene, setting or resolution. They have to not only decide on GMC and other structural requisites, but on other essential parts surrounding those primary pieces--vast stretches of story that logically link the focal pieces together. In a physical puzzle these might include foregrounds, sky, water, trees or mountains. Even though the basics may be pieced together and you can “see” the borders and focal point, the whole picture isn’t complete until the supporting peripheral pieces have been strategically placed to fill the gaps.
 
I find, when preparing a proposal (first 3 chapters and a full-blown synopsis) that I, as the author, need more than the bare bones basics, more than the GMC, focal point and structure. There are many questions I have to ask myself about the “linking” pieces that hold the story puzzle together. While all the ideas bubbling in my head won’t fit into a proposal, I need to know far more than the basics to bring the story to life.
I keep a 1-inch-wide, 3-ring binder that is labeled “From Start to Finish” – a distillation of years of writing craft tips I’ve accumulated from conferences, on-line classes, blogs, professional journals, newsletter articles, wisdom shared by my editor and agent--and just plain old personal experience. I have everything in it from checklists for character building and revision-stage processes to prompts to help me find my way out of the maze of a muddled middle.
While the list of questions I’m sharing today is not by any means intended to be comprehensive (after all, my binder has over 50 clear-top-loading sheets in it!), these are some of the things I ask myself in order to help connect all the story puzzle pieces. The answers can often take a story in one direction or another. A single choice can have a reverberating impact that enriches the chapters.
Have you ever read a book and actually stopped to analyze HOW MANY DECISIONS the writer had to make that went far, far beyond establishing basic GMC, inciting incident, black moment, climax and resolution? How, if they’d chosen a seemingly minor A, B or C rather than D, the story couldn’t have convincingly ended in Z?
 
Answering some of these questions will also help you build the GMC foundation as well as connect the puzzle pieces.
- What is this story REALLY about? (The premise that inspires, the “take away”)
- What is the “first impression” I want the reader to have of the hero/heroine? What should be included in the opening to quickly elicit reader empathy for hero/heroine?
- What is the greatest fear of my hero/heroine? Their biggest dream? Biggest regret? What makes them most angry with others--with themselves?
- What strengths/flaws does my hero/heroine have and how will they impact the story?
- How will my hero/heroine’s character/spiritual depth change and grow by the end of the story?
- What’s my hero’s/heroine’s background (personal experiences/family legacy) that drives their thinking, speech and behaviors? What secret do they harbor?
-Are my characters actions/thoughts consistent with their goals and motivation?
- What is keeping my hero/heroine from just walking away from the conflict—and each other? What is keeping them together—apart?
- Who are the necessary secondary “players” and how will they impact the story?
 
Illustrating the answers to these questions in my manuscript will add dimension, continuity and perspective to my final story puzzle. I return to my list periodically to see if I’m adequately capturing the answers in my manuscript or if I need to layer in better clarification.
Please share with us today what questions YOU ask yourself when you begin to flesh out your story puzzle!
If you’d like to be entered in a drawing for a September release set of Seeker Glynna-Ruthy-Debby books, please mention it in the comments section, then check our Weekend Edition for the winner announcement!
Glynna Kaye's debut book “Dreaming of Home” was a finalist in the ACFW Carol and Maggie awards, as well as a first place winner of the “Booksellers Best” and “Beacon” awards. Her 4 1/2 star “At Home In His Heart” was chosen as a Reviewers Choice finalist by national magazine RT Book Reviews. “A Canyon Springs Courtship,” her sixth Love Inspired book (and the fifth set in the mountain country of Arizona), released in September 2013--with two more contracted for 2014!

100 comments:

Courtney Faith said...

I'm up late tonight plotting scenes to write tomorrow. A puzzle is a great way to illustrate this. The story I'm writing now has changed quite a bit from where it started, but I think I started with my heroine and her best friend. I had no plot, no goals--just a few characters that needed a story. Then I came up with a theme, what I hope a reader will take away from it. Then I used real-life people as inspiration for my antagonists--loved doing that. Ha! My, how that story has developed.
I've used a plot and structure book to help with this story, and it HAS helped tremendously.
So has this blog. God has blessed me lately with encouragement to follow through to the end. He is amazing.

Can't wait to see the finished puzzle! What a fun day that will be!

Courtney --alwaysreadingblog.blogspot.com

Ruth Logan Herne said...

Great illustrations, Glynna! And Courtney, I love how your story has "evolved" from the original characters to a story theme with structure.

That's the ticket!!!!!

Glynna, I'm dropping off coffee and fresh fried cakes for the crew today, total fall fun stuff and there are a few jugs of Zarpentine's Apple Cider in the back fridge... because I live in Apple Country and I love it!!!!

Courtney, I love how you used real-life folks to develop the story, that's what Sandra was yammerin' about here yesterday. And it works, right????

WAY BETTER THAN PRICEY PSYCHO-THERAPY!!! :)

Glynna, thank you so much for including "Falling for the Lawman" in the giveaway!!!! That is such a delightful story and every time my new rooster crows, I think of Piper and Zach and how God brings things together... Oh, that God!!!!

Jackie said...

Good morning!

This is definitely a keeper. I have a GMC file that I refer to while brainstorming, writing and revising.

I try to come up with internal conflicts that keep my H&H apart no matter how much I want them to be together.

Thanks for sharing!

Glynna Kaye said...

Good morning, COURTNEY! It's amazing where the "launching point" is for various story ideas-- like you starting off with only a vivid heroine and her best friend on this one. I know immediately what kicked off a few of my stories, but I'd have to sit and think about some others to remember what sparked the initial idea.

What plot and structure book are you finding helpful?

Glynna Kaye said...

Hi, Ruthy! Thanks for bringing breakfast goodies! It's definitely fall her in the mountains. Trees are turning color and we've had several below 32 degree overnight lows. Will dip into the 20's by week's end.

I just finished edits and AAs on my April 2014 book -- so celebrated by reading "Falling for the Lawman!" Loved it, Ruthy!

Tea norman said...

Hi Camy,

I guess you're here some where. I'm here again. Putting your blog on my page so I won't forget where to find you. I'm trying to look at writing more seriously. I definitely need all the help I can find. Thanks for the help you've given me in the past. Have a good one. Your blog is so pretty.:)

Glynna Kaye said...

Hi, JACKIE! What sort of "prompts" does your GMC file hold that you refer to when brainstorming?

I'm working on my fall 2014 book, so ideas for the next one are starting to bubble to the surface. Of course, an idea does not a story make! So much more to put all the pieces together. Sometimes I don't find ALL those puzzle pieces until I'm well into the writing of it! But at least if I refresh my memory at the very beginning to plant the what-do-I-need questions in my head, I find the brainstorming goes much more smoothly.

Glynna Kaye said...

Good morning "TEA!" Wishing you the best as you "try to look at your writing more seriously." If Camy isn't here today, I'll let her know you stopped by.

Mary Hicks said...

Glynna, thank you for this wonderful post full of helpful information. I have a binder that I keep 'stuff' in to review and hopefully keep me moving forward in my writing.

When I get stuck, I get a cup of coffee and relax with my binder. It refreshes my mind. I go back to work with my vision restored of where I want my story to go. And sometimes even a more interesting direction

This is a keeper sheet I'll add to my binder.

Janet Dean said...

Glynna, I love jigsaw puzzles! We start one at Christmas, and hope it's finished by the end of January. Even knowing what we're trying to create, we struggle to get the right pieces in place. Just like muddling through a first draft of my story. :-)

Excellent questions to ask ourselves to get to the core of our story! Most of those questions help us know our characters' back story and the romantic conflict. When I struggle with writing, I find I need to know my characters better.

Janet

Janet Dean said...

Ruthy, thanks for breakfast! Apple cider is one sure sign of fall!

Janet

Glynna Kaye said...

Good morning, MARY H! Ah, another "binder" gal! :) I like keeping things hole-punched and in one place rather than scattered loose or in a jumbled file. When I'm starting to come up with ideas for a 2 or 3 book contract I need a refresher course of the elements I need to think about to go beyond the initial idea spark.

Glynna Kaye said...

HI, JANET! Excellent point--that we really need to KNOW our characters and that sometimes when we don't, that's when we get off-course.

Do you ever frame your completed puzzles? I have several that remind me of the Midwest -- farms & farmhouses & little towns -- I switch them out periodically.

kaybee said...

GLYNNA, I love binders and three-ring anything. When I need a break from sitting at my computer, I take my binder to the couch or deck chair and review principles of writing. I print out posts from this blog and ACFW, save articles from "The Writer" and "Writer's Digest" and keep the notes from my monthly craft group. It's like a little refresher course on technique. GLYNNA, I have one of yours from last year on "Deep Cleaning Your Manuscript." One from Debby on "Easy Editing Tips" and Sandy's month of devotions for writers, which I plan to do in Oct. before throwing myself into NANO. I also have inspirational pieces such as one from Martha Rogers on the AFCW blog where she talks about not being published until she was 73. There are days when I need to hear that.

kaybee said...

Structure is SO important, and it doesn't take away from your creativity. There's plenty of room for creativity in what you put IN to the structure.
This is why we should be careful about saying "Well, it really happened that way." Life is not as structured as fiction. There is a pattern, but we won't see it until we've crossed over to The Other Side.
If "it really happened" and it doesn't fit our structure or is TOO weird to be believed or just plain boring, it doesn't belong in the story.
I came late to the structure party. For years I thought I was doing fine without structure, which is one of the reasons I'm not published. I had to learn that the formula will set you free.
It's like any other art -- sewing, cooking, weaving, quilting, painting. Even an abstract painting has a structure to it, it's just one we don't always "get."

Jeanne T said...

Great post, Glynna! And I always love me a good checklist. Thanks for including that! :)

I think I've mentioned before that I've learned a ton from Susan May Warren and My Book Therapy. In figuring out who my characters are, a couple things I ask my characters are what they value and how do they act in "Go-To" mode. When life is going awry, what's their go-to mode to cope?

It's been helpful. :) I loved this post. Thanks for sharing an inside glimpse into how you create your characters!

Glynna Kaye said...

Good morning, KAYBEE! Another binder person after my own heart! It IS like a mini-course, isn't it?!

Like you, I was unpublished for so many years due not only to God's timing but probably also because I didn't really understand story structure and tried to wing it -- then would crash only a few chapters in or mid-book. When I started out writing, there were no writer's groups that taught how to write commercial fiction, no internet, no helpful blogs and very few books. Now that I understand structure and moral premise and GMC much better, I can get those elements hammered out in my head early on, then have the freedom to flesh them out on a road to discovery as I write.

Good luck on NANO! I can't believe it's only a month away! Where has the past year gone!?

Glynna Kaye said...

Hi, JEANNE T! Oooh, I like that when life's going awry, what is a character's go-to mode to cope. Excellent! And knowing what they value is so important--you know where they are deep inside.

Sherri Shackelford said...

What great pictures and questions! The more I write, the more I plot...I was more of a 'pantser' in the beginning. I guess I'm a slow learner :)

Glynna Kaye said...

DON'T FORGET, Y'ALL! If you want to be entered in a drawing to win a 3-book set of the latest Glynna Kaye, Ruth Logan Herne and Debby Giusti Love Inspired books, mention it in this comment section so you'll be included!

Glynna Kaye said...

Good morning, SHERRI! Yeah, I used to be MUCH more pantster than I am now, too. I consider myself a "planster" because I plan high level in advance, then am free to flesh out the bones and make discoveries in the actual writing.

I had fun putting that cute little puzzle together. Those dollar stores are fabulous, aren't they? You can ALWAYS find something you need there. :)

Sandra Leesmith said...

Morning Glynna, You always have such terrific information. I am definitely bookmarking this post for when I start my next novel. Now I understand why your stories capture me from the start. You have such wonderful characters.

Love the Arizona setting for your stories. Makes me feel so at home. Thanks for being such a great writer.

Glynna Kaye said...

Good morning, SANDRA! Glad you found the post helpful! I'm really enjoying writing about small-town mountain country Arizona. Arizona is SO diverse and the setting of fictional Canyon Springs is one of my favorite "pockets" of it!

Melanie Dickerson said...

This is awesome, Glynna! Just what I needed today. I am copying and pasting this--and using it! Right now. I officially owe you some chocolate.

Tina Radcliffe said...

Printing. Printing Printing. I feel likes such a cheater. But I am still printing this.

Tina Radcliffe said...

I see it's going to be 28 in your mountains, GK.

I am just thrilled that my cool weather is FINALLY starting. Hurrah. 97 today.

Heidi said...

Amazing article. I love the list of questions- so critical to keeping the characters and the story compelling and consistent. Thanks for sharing! Please enter me in your giveaway!

Glynna Kaye said...

Thanks for the chocolate, MELANIE! Make mine dark -- Lindt 90% cocoa. :)

Glynna Kaye said...

Hey, TINA! Yep, cooling down up here so you should be getting some relief in the Valley of the Sun soon! You'll be heading into some really gorgeous fall weather temps!

Glynna Kaye said...

Good morning, HEIDI! Glad you found the post helpful! I've thrown your name into Ruthy's kitty dish or Mary's Stetson -- guess I should come up with something of my own. :)

Glynna Kaye said...

Well, I have to be out-of-pocket for a bit, but I'll be back as soon as I can!

Marianne Barkman said...

Glenna...great post even for those of us who are readers, not writers, and dabble in jigsaw puzzles. Please add my name to win the books. Say Tina, when you cool down (or the weather does) maybe I can get together with you and Sandra

Courtney Faith said...

Oh, yes, Ruthy, EXTREMELY therapeutic. I mean, when you can't slap someone in real-life, just make a character do it. Simple! ;)

And Glynna, I bought James Scott Bell's book PLOT AND STRUCTURE. I used to not be into the whole "You need a formula to write a book" thing.
Yeah, amateur, amateur, I know. Life lesson learned. All in His timing.

Connie Queen said...

Good ole Winnie the Pooh and the gang.
I figure most of structure/conflict before I start writing. Then it begins unraveling when I begin putting it on paper. Then I fight w/every scene trying to get it back on track.
I'm working on a ms right now that I constantly must re-read my synopsis to remind me of the simple story it's supposed to be.

As always, throw me name in the hate please.

Myra Johnson said...

Excellent list of questions, Glynna! Several of them are on my list to think about as I begin developing a new story idea.

The basic character question for me is usually something like, "How did you get to where you are today?" My story begins at a crucial change in the character's life, but in order for it to make sense, I need to know some background. Being a pantser, though, I don't always discover it until several chapters in. And that's okay!

Christina Rich said...

I'm definitely printing these questions off. I tend to have a problem with the spiritual premise with all of my stories. I'm not sure why I struggle to answer that one.

I always want to know who my characters are. I almost always dream up a character before the story. I then dig into their past to figure out what the best way is to cause them conflict is. Like with one of my current WIPs, the heroine is the daughter of a Philistine and his Hebrew slave, but her mother was cherished by her father. However, the mother never had freedom, which the heroine didn't understand because her mother was loved by her father. Even though my heroine was never treated like a slave, her siblings did not like her (my Joseph)and sold her while her father was in deep mourning over her mother's death. The hero, in his mind, rescues her, but she sees it as slavery and thus begins to understand her mother's dilemma, but what in the world is my moral premise? I have no idea.

Thank you, Glynna, for providing these questions.

Natalie Monk said...

I was thinking about this yesterday, Glynna! I'm in rewrites, just past the 3/4 mark. I'm reworking the ending and was at a crossroads, when it hit me how much this decision would affect everything from that point forward!

Great post! I loved the Pooh Bear illustrations! :)

kaybee said...

CHRISTINA, your character struggles with her own worth after being sold like a slave and not valued by her family. She feels like an afterthought, a by-blow, and she struggles with deep-set feelings of inferiority. Can she reach a point where she has to save someone's life, or do something else of great value? Or can she come to see herself in the hero's eyes as valued?

Vince said...

Hi Glynna:

I love the idea of your list of writing wisdom. I have something like it but it is only about two pages and I insert it at the top of each WIP so I can’t easily avoid it. A lot of Seeker tips are on my list. I’ve already put your whole post in my Scrivener writing research project.

I often use a puzzle analogy when I am thinking about a subject or project.

In my writing puzzle analogy, however, there are more pieces than the puzzle requires. Many puzzle pieces are exactly the same shape but have different coloration on the front. A few pieces have picture parts on both sides! In this way the same pieces can build many different pictures.

A plotter works hard to visualize a picture for the puzzle in advance and then picks out pieces that she hopes will work best to create that picture.

A pantser, on the other hand, likes selecting from all the pieces available to create her picture. If the initial situation is rich enough, (that is, the combination of the inciting incident, setting, character personalities, motivations, obstacles and other story essentials) the same story or initial situation can logically lead to many different and interesting outcomes.

This leads me to the answer to your request:

”Please share with us today what questions
YOU ask yourself when you begin to flesh out your story puzzle!”


I ask myself, "How can I make the story situation so rich that it will support many successful story outcomes while at the same time providing the most ‘hooks’ or ‘opportunities’ to entertain and reward the reader for reading each page of the story."

In other words, I think of my story situation as if it were the basis of a tv show that was rich enough to generate great scripts for a decade or more. I’m thinking here of CSI and NCIS. (Gunsmoke and Bonanza – for us older folks.)

I think your Canyon Springs ‘situation’ is one of the best and most memorable in romance. Your stories make me want to live in Canyon Srpings.

Vince

Please put me in for a kindle version of your new book.

kaybee said...

Put me in the drawing. Sandra said I can enter more than once! Yay, I love books.

CatMom said...

Great post, Glynna, and I agree with Jackie - - it's a keeper post!

After I "meet" my characters and have a basic idea of what the premise is, I always have to make sure there will be enough conflict and strife *sigh* - - THAT is where I seem to struggle the most, I guess because the kindergarten teacher in me just wants everyone to get along, LOL.

Thanks for sharing your wisdom with us---I know I'll be re-reading your tips. And I LOVE that Winnie-the-Pooh puzzle - - those characters are so lovable. (in fact, one of my bathrooms is still decorated in a Winnie-the-Pooh theme, even though I have an "empty nest" I cannot BEAR to change that décor.
Hugs, Patti Jo
p.s. Please toss me in for the drawing!

Sherida Stewart said...

Excellent advice! I'm filling a binder TODAY...starting with your post! Thanks, Glynna!

Don't enter me because I have all three books. (I get so excited when my local store has authors I "know"--yay!

Happy to hear you have two more contracted! Set in Canyon Springs?

kaybee said...

My characters "come" to me, and their situations, i.e. the messes they get themselves into, are usually setting-specific. (You can't fake the Oregon Trail. It is what it is.) And if you have an Irishman in the early 19th century, as I have with Michael Moriarty, he's going to have baggage. I get to choose the baggage, YAY. In Michael's case, taking the blame for his sister's murder of the English landlord's son. So I pretty much start out with a bunch of pieces already. The challenge is making them fit in an interesting way. I tend to have them talking too much in the beginning (and the middle, and the end), and it's a challenge for me to get the AWAY FROM THE COFFEE POT ALREADY.
My crit group is doing an extended unit on story structure, so that has helped a lot. They are using the Amy Dearden book.

kaybee said...

PATTI JO, I often have that issue too, especially when working with born-again Christian characters. I know they're going to work out their differences by the end of the book because THAT'S WHO THEY ARE, so it's a struggle for me to picture them un-evolved. I want everyone to get along and I shy away from conflict. It's the New Englander in me, plus the 1950s child, plus the childhood Catholic guilt and adult Protestant guilt, plus my father's injunction to "act like a little lady." I can create conflict but have trouble showing it. My people tend to purse their lips and walk away. Like New Englanders. It's wonder we get anything done.

Christina Rich said...

Kaybee, that is awesome! How did you do that?

I love Irishmen and their stories. I guess it's in my blood. ;)

I think it's great that your crit group does studies on the writing craft. I've never heard of that.

Mary Connealy said...

HI. I'm pretty sure I'm Eeyore in the Winnie the Pooh Puzzle of Life.

But pay no attention to me. Nobody ever does. :(

DebH said...

Great list today Myra. Copy/pasting to my computer. If I can't answer these questions, then my ms is in trouble, I'm thinking.

MARY
if you're Eeyore (which you are not), does that make Ruthy Tigger? just wondering...

Mary Connealy said...

She is kinda bouncy, now that you mention it.

Mary Connealy said...

Although a BOSSY kind of bouncy. What 100 Acre Woods Character is that?

And where are the cowboys in a.a.milne's work? A clear oversight.

Tina Radcliffe said...

You're Eeyore with a cowboy hat.

I'm Christopher Robin with a baton.

Glynna Kaye said...

Hello, MARIANNE! So you're a puzzle person, are you? So many beautiful ones available now. I love the country scenes by John Sloane.

Glynna Kaye said...

Hi again, COURTNEY! Bell's book is excellent. And once you truly understand story structure and plotting, you realize that it's nothing close to "formulaic" -- more like a house that needs a foundation, roof and walls, but other than that you're free to "design" it any way you like! :)

Glynna Kaye said...

Hi, CONNIE! Once I get that high-level synopsis written for my proposal and it's been approved and contracted, I try to stick very close to the synopsis. So often go back to it as a reminder so I don't wander TOO far off the track!

Glynna Kaye said...

MYRA -- I really like that "how did you get where you are today?" question.

Do any of you ever "interview" your main characters? Amazing sometimes what we know about them subconsciously.

Glynna Kaye said...

Hi, CHRISTINA! Wish I could take credit for the questions, but they're a compilation of YEARS of gleaning from other writers, editor, agent.

I try to have a "moral premise" established before I get too far along in the story so that it's reflected throughout. But sometimes it comes with the actual writing of it and you have to go back in and weave elementes into earlier chapters.

I like the sound of that story you're working on!

Glynna Kaye said...

Hi, NATALIE! Sometimes it's really grueling to DECIDE on what include in your character's background or something that happens in the story as it can impact everything -- how the character grows, how he/she interacts with others, their goal/motivation/conflict --even how the story ends!.

Jeanne T said...

I forgot to mention earlier, please enter me in the drawing. :)

Glynna Kaye said...

Hi, VINCE! Excellent point -- for every piece we pick up (all the ideas that are coming at us from every direction), there are dozens more that we DON'T pick up that would fit just as nicely into the puzzle. The decisions we make when we pick can alter the entire story puzzle.

Good point! Yes, your "rewards per page" theory can definitely play into which puzzle piece you pick.

You've already won a Kindle version of my new book, Vince. With edits and AAs filling my "off" hours, I just haven't gotten it ordered yet. So stay tuned!

DebH said...

Sorry Glynna
I don't know why I typed Myra in my first comment. *slaps head* Your list is great.

MARY - if you want bossy in the 100 acres, just visit Rabbit. Ruthy is too generous to equate to Rabbit though, she's much more Tigger, I think.

Glynna Kaye said...

HI, PATTI JO! You can't BEAR to change your décor! Hee Hee Love you sense of humor. :)

Yes, trying to have a strong enough conflict to carry a book thru to The End is tricky. We LIKE our hero and heroine and want them to live happily ever after -- by the third chapter!

Glynna Kaye said...

Hello, SHERIDA! So glad you found all 3 books! We're down to one bookstore in town -- and it doesn't carry any Love Inspireds. Usually can find them at Walmart, but this month they didn't carry any of the three except Debby's so I had to track down Ruthy's at a grocery store. But I found it!

I love being able to find so many SEEKER VILLAGER books out there now!

Glynna Kaye said...

Hi, DebH! I'm more than happy to answer to "Myra" today. :)

Glynna Kaye said...

MARY - How can someone with your fabulous sense of humor possibly be Eyore????

Glynna Kaye said...

Well, I have to duck out again! See you all in a bit! :)

Annie Rains said...

I love the idea of keeping an all inclusive binder full of writing tips you've collected along the way. I might have to do that, and start by adding your list of questions. I'm in the revision stage right now, so your questions should be helpful. :)

Mary Connealy said...

BATON? TINA? Let's just be honest and call it a club, shall we?????

Chill N said...

I'm confused ... isn't Blogger a part of Google? And Google just told me it couldn't find Blogger?

Was that a test?

Nancy C

Chill N said...

Three-ring binders are the best! I have one for 'editing quick checks' and another that is 'Seekers and Keepers.' The fun thing is when I go through both from time to time and find there is a page I can toss because I've incorporated that tip/guideline out of habit. So cool to see itsy bits of progress in this journey.

Good questions, Glynna. I guess it goes without saying that I plan to print this post and add it to the Seekers and Keepers binder -- but I said it anyhow. Well, typed it ...

Nancy C

kaybee said...

CHRISTINA, I am really good at thinking about plot points for Other People. :)
In the group we do craft study for an hour and then crit for an hour. It's tricky, we have to be really organized, but my original crit partner is Type A in a nice way and keeps us on track.

kaybee said...

You've got to know your character, that's the basis for everything. For example in one of my WIPs I have this woman Julia who was rescued out of prostitution to Christianity and now works in a New York settlement house in the early 1920s. Her beau is Henry, a young man of privilege. I originally thought about having her get engaged to H. and move in with his snobby parents to "learn how things are done," and get frustrated and go back to the settlement house where she belongs. Then I realized Julia would never leave her people in Hell's Kitchen for such a stupid reason, to learn how to curtsy and pour tea or whatever. Instead, she leaves and goes under the radar when she learns that the daughter she thought had died at birth is alive in Hell's Kitchen and that two evil men have designs on her life. The Julia I know WOULD risk everything for a child, especially her child. We need to know our people...that is the key, I believe in plot structure especially now, but I believe it goes hand-in-hand with our people and what they would and wouldn't do.
That's it for today, have a nice evening.
Kathy Bailey

Hallee Bridgeman said...

LOVE the idea of asking yourself these questions. What a great way to really dig deep into your characters!

Hallee

kaybee said...

Back again. Oh the other thing is I'm delighted to find a group of people who use BINDERS in this digital age. I am slowly transitioning to keeping things digitally, but it's not as easy as it looks, I still have a Rolodex with Index Cards. But a binder...what a perfect thing to take outside in your lounge chair or on the porch swing. Plus you can write on it. With highlighters.

Mary Curry said...

Hi Glynna,

I love this post. I'm one of those people who still needs a hard copy of things to study, so I live your binders.

I read this post early this morning, and then took off from work. As I was walking, a story idea was being very insistent. I don't have the time to work on it right now because I have to finish other things first, but I can certainly ask myself your questions and start to mull over the responses.

Thanks for inspiring me.

Mary

Mary Curry said...

Oops - forgot to add. I'd love to be in for the drawing.

Glynna Kaye said...

Hi, ANNIE! I love the clear, top-loading sheets that I can just slip the articles/print outs into and it keeps them nice. I like the slant-D ring notebooks best, too, as they hold more.

Cara Lynn James said...

Great post, Glynna. It's really crucial to be able to answer those all important questions you posed if you want to avoid a huge amount of revision.

Glynna Kaye said...

NANCY C -- I weed things out periodically, too. I find that over time I've learned to incorporate certain aspects of the writing craft and just do them naturally now, without even thinking about them. It's nice to know I'm progressing!

Google couldn't find Blogger? -- scary! :)

Glynna Kaye said...

Hi, HALLEE! I'm glad you found the post helpful. A lot of writers have these questions hard-wired into their brains, but I sometimes need a list to remind me. :)

Glynna Kaye said...

Hello, MARY C! I'm glad the questions are getting you thinking about answers even if you don't have time right now to do any writing. Sometimes just letting ideas simmer awhile really helps.

Glynna Kaye said...

HI, CARA! You're so right -- as much as you can think thru in advance and as you write really helps minimize the revision stage.

kaybee said...

GLYNNA, I'm an office supply nut. I look at notebooks, pens, binders and personal organizers the way other women look at shoes. (I do that too...)
I'm really done now, thanks for a great post.

Glynna Kaye said...

KAYBEE -- Bookstores and office supply stores! Two of my all-time favorite places!! Oh, and places with neat little gizmos for the kitchen. :)

Glynna Kaye said...

KAYBEE -- And you're so right in your earlier comment about how a plot needs to go hand-in-hand with your characters. People drive a good plot.

Walt Mussell said...

I think I share the same issue with Christina in that I don't know what my spiritual premise is sometimes. In a couple of my WIPs, the verse that underlines my story came to me immediately. Others, not so much.

Christina Rich said...

Kaybee, type A's have their place, don't they? Unfortunately I'm not one of them.

Glynna, in a future post could you possibly share some pictures of how your binder is organized? I've tried in the past, unsuccessfully, but I'd really like to get a go-to folder like this together.

Audra Harders said...

What a wonderful way to attack the challenge of a story puzzle, Glynna! I love your analogy.

The question you bring up about all the little details of your story directing the final path is so key to a satisfying ending. And, it let's the author create knowing there is no ONE right answer or way. If you choose one path over the other, you simply create a different story.

This could very well be a good thing.

By following your train of thought and story questions, you reduce the frustration of episodic writing. Like each of your puzzle pieces, the scenes need to fit together. There's no room for spare parts.

Thanks for sharing your timely reminder, Glynna.

Jenny Blake said...

im late entering been so tired the past few days and havent had the energy to do a lot.
I love puzzles and love the analogy.
would love to be entered.

Mary Preston said...

I love how you put this together, so to speak.

Please count me in for the drawing for a September release set of Seeker Glynna-Ruthy-Debby books.

Glynna Kaye said...

Hi, WALT! Most often I start out with a very clear moral premise that I stick with throughout the book. Other times it's sort of gray when I start--a draft of one that grows and layers and solidifies as I write. And on occasion I've had to look BACK at the whole book to see what premise I've subconsciously written into it and then firm it up in my revision stage.

Glynna Kaye said...

CHRISTINA -- Um, ORGANIZED...? :) Yes, I can do that in a post sometime. I'm ALWAYS looking for post ideas!

Glynna Kaye said...

Hi, AUDRA! There ARE so many decisions we as writers make throughout the writing of a book that affect story outcomes. SO many directions to choose from, but we can only pick ONE and, like the poem "The Road Less Traveled," that choice makes all the difference!

Glynna Kaye said...

Hi, JENNY! I'm sorry you haven't had a lot of energy lately. I'm having less and less as the days here in the States get shorter and shorter so we don't have so much energizing daylight as in our summer months. I'm praying you'll perk up as you enter your Australian spring/summer months!

Glynna Kaye said...

Cute pun, MARY P! I've thrown your name in the hat!

Julie Lessman said...

GLYNNA!!! I cannot believe I am SO late to the party on this fabulous blog, but I had some promo crises that kept me busy yesterday, so better late than never, I guess!!

GREAT BLOG, as usual, my friend, with a clever presentation!

Hugs,
Julie

May the K9 Spy (and KC Frantzen) said...

Another Seeker Keeper!

Thank you Glynna. Need to re-read this a few dozen times... :)

And yes, enjoy reading Seeker books ANY time! Please enter me: may at maythek9spy dot com

Sally said...

Would love to be entered in the drawing for a September release set of Seeker Glynna-Ruthy-Debby books. Thanks for the chance to win!
tscmshupe [at] pemtel [dot] net

Glynna Kaye said...

Hi, JULIE! I popped into Seekerville last evening, but couldn't stay to respond to comments, just to gather names for the giveaway drawing. :) Hope your promo crisis has been satisfactorily resolved!

Glynna Kaye said...

Hi, KC! Glad you found the post helpful! :)

Glynna Kaye said...

Hi, SALLY! Thanks for stopping by. I threw your name in the hat! :)

Michelle said...

Please enter me in the drawing for the Sept. releases.