Monday, March 21, 2016

THE CHARACTER JOURNEY

with guest Alicia Rasley

Janet here. I'm excited to have Alicia Rasley in Seekerville today. I've used her "The Story Within" workbook to help plot my stories. Today Alicia will be talking about the Character Journey as an effective way to plot. Here's Alicia!

Thank you, Janet and Seekerville, for hosting me! I like to write and talk about writing, plotting, and character. My writing/editing blog Edittorrent has many posts about elements of writing—come visit!

Today, I’d like to talk about one powerful way to shape your plot—around the character journey. This will make you more productive because you will have this major plot theme in mind as you design scenes. How does this event further the character’s journey? will be the question you keep in mind as you plot the scenes!

If you think of the plot as the protagonist's journey, you can overcome a lot of the Fear of Plotting. So let’s talk about the journey, and then connect it to the parts of the plot. 

WHAT IS HIS/HER JOURNEY?  

Think of the plot as the journey of this character to a new place in life... to some growth or change or understanding. In most popular fiction, this journey will be towards something more positive-- she will be a better person in the end than she was in the beginning. (In a tragedy, it will be from good to bad, or bad to worse, as with Hamlet.) 

Through the events of the plot and her own choices, the character will have grown towards greater awareness or greater strength or a better relationship with her family-- something positive. (Of course, there will be some books where the "growth" will be negative-- she starts out innocent and becomes corrupt, for example.) Before this series of events happened, she couldn't become that "new self," but afterwards, through the changes she has had to make because of the plot, she has changed within. Oh, yeah, she's also solved that mystery or won that gold medal or lost the contest or got a new job... whatever the external change is you've got planned.

There's a continual in-and-out between external and internal here-- the external events cause internal changes, which allow her to grow in a way that makes it more likely she'll resolve the external conflict. So one thing you'll want to identify is what you think your protagonist's journey is towards-- how he needs to grow and change. If you write inspirational fiction, you are probably already doing this, because you believe in the power of spiritual and emotional change.

Here are some generic journeys.  

Some Protagonist Journeys:  


Mystery to truth  
Fear to courage  
Doubt to decision (Hamlet)
 Revenge to justice  
Sin to redemption  
Isolation to alliance  
Denial of fate to acceptance of fate (Oedipus)  
Ambition to destruction (Macbeth)  
Exile to home (Odyssey)  
Delusion to realization  
Self-delusion to self-knowledge  
Deception to truth
Innocence to corruption  
Naivete to disillusion
Naivete to intelligence  
Smugness to humility (King Lear)  
Alienation to reconciliation  
Guilt to amends  
Shame to self-acceptance  
Self-deception to self-awareness  
Obsession to balance  

Here are some more detailed examples of actual protagonist journeys:

John starts out wanting revenge against the man who killed his father. The plot journey teaches him, however, that the situation was far more complicated than he imagined, and that vengeance might only destroy his own soul. So he ends up, instead of killing the man, turning him into the police. He travels from revenge to justice.   

Charity needs to be needed in the beginning of the book. That's how she knows she's loved, because her loved ones need her. She has to learn that she can be loved for who she is and not just what she does. So her journey is from giving-for-love to giving-into-love.   

Plotting the Three Acts through the Character Journey

Most stories break into three sections or “acts”:
  1. Set up
  2. Rising Action
  3. Climax and Resolution
In my historical mystery, Natasha starts out avoiding the past, and ends up accepting the past. Of course, other things happen (she falls in love with a “frenemy” and together they solve a murder), but the major emotional change that allows everything else is from her avoidance of the past to her acceptance of the past.

Here’s how that plays out in the events of the plot:

Act 1: The past confronts Natasha, when a Russian servant from her childhood arrives at the inn. She avoids him.

Act 2: The past rises up: The servant is murdered that night, and Natasha is the most likely suspect, as she is the only other Russian person at the inn.

Act 3: In order to solve the murder, Natasha must finally relive and describe the traumatic event when she last saw the servant, during Napoleon’s invasion of their home country.

See how the beginning and end of the journey can be spread across the three acts of the plot.

In Act 1, the starting point of the journey is shown when Natasha specifically avoids the past in the form of the old servant.
            Note: The reader can’t guess the starting point of the journey without a bit of help from you! So look at your first or second scene. Can you show the character at the starting place somehow?
            Example: To show a character starting at “lack of trust,” you could have Tom in the first scene following the security guard around and making sure that the locks are indeed all locked. Then in the inciting incident, he could suspect that Sadie is lying when she warns him to stay home from work Tuesday.
           
In Act 2, the consequences of this starting point cause something to happen (usually in the external plot). This something is usually negative in some way, because, of course, we generally don’t change unless we have to! Natasha’s refusal to explain about her past leads to her being suspected in the murder.
            Note: Act 2 is about rising action or rising conflict, so the change event should be strong enough to force a perhaps-recalcitrant character into making a choice or action, not necessarily the right one—rising conflict can come from the character making a stubbornly wrong choice, like Natasha refusing to remember her past.
            Examples: What rising conflict could come from Tom’s refusal to trust?
Because he refuses to trust Sadie’s warning, he is captured by the bad guys.

External plot and internal plot are most effective when braided together
In Act 3, through the dark moment and the climax events, the character is confronted with the need to take the step that resolves some problem, and also completes the character journey. So Natasha finally reveals what happened that long-ago day in Russia, and in letting herself remember the past, she is able finally to figure out why this man from her past ended up murdered.  
            Note: Remember that the external plot (like the mystery) and the emotion/internal plot (the character journey) are most effective when they’re braided together. So see if you can make the events take her towards her destination, and her journey’s completion helping resolve the external plot.
            Example:  How can completing the character journey connect to the climax—the solution to the external plot?
When Tom sees Sadie with the kidnappers, he thinks at first that he was right all along—she’s untrustworthy. But then when she whispers she’s here to help him, he lets himself trust—and she helps him escape.

So let’s try that with your own story:

Journeys imply conflict and movement
Your protagonist is on a journey. The plot is the vehicle that gets him/her there. Now it’s your turn!  Look back up at that list of protagonist journeys. There are MANY more out there-- this is just a sample of sort of umbrella journey categories. You can make up your own! Notice that the journeys imply conflict and movement of some kind.  

Brainstorm from these questions:

  1. So where does your character start, and where does he/she end up? 

  1. What internal resonance does this have-- how does the journey change who this person is?
  1. List a few steps your protagonist will have to take to complete this journey:
How is the starting point shown in Act 1?

In Act 2, what event(s) force the character into rising conflict around this journey issue?

In Act 3, how does the completion of the journey help this character resolve the external problem (and/or vice versa, how does resolving the external problem help the character complete the journey)?

      4. Any other thoughts or questions about your character’s journey?

So how does this work in your plot? If you think about your character’s journey, you’ll see ways to make this journey affect the external plot (the mystery or competition or whatever). Obviously, when the central character starts to change, how he acts and reacts will change too.

Want to brainstorm your character’s journey? Great! I want to create a free class in ways to plot with character and characterize through plot. (Yes, I know I need a catchier tag!) If you’d like to learn more about your own character’s journey, maybe help me explore different facets of this topic, visit me here at my new character journey blog. I’ll have a starting post, and you can comment to that, asking about your own story or telling your character’s “From-to” path, and maybe I can discuss that and make a post about it!

The giveaway for today is my book, Power of Point of View.  Comment to be entered into the giveaway!

Alicia Rasley loves to read, write, and talk about writing. Her plot book The Story Within explores the many ways character and plot can interact to create deeper and more meaningful stories.

In her own writing, Alicia has journeyed from Regencies to family sagas, and back again! Visit her website at www.aliciarasleybooks.com, and her writing blog at www.edittorrent.blogspot.com.

Sign up for my email newsletter for new Regency releases and get a free novella! http://books.noisetrade.com/aliciarasley/the-wilder-heart

Sign up for my email newsletter for new craft-of-writing books and get a free plotting article! http://books.noisetrade.com/aliciarasley/outline-your-novel-in-30-minutes

Biography
Alicia Rasley lives in Regency England-- well, no. She just writes about it! She lives in the American Midwest, surrounded by books about Regency England. Her Regency romances have won several awards, including the prestigious RITA for Best Regency Romance. She has also written women's fiction, mystery, and non-fiction books. She teaches writing online and at a state university, hoping to instill the love of commas into today's college students.
She lives in Indiana with her husband Jeff, a philanthropist/writer who does development work to benefit a remote Nepal village destroyed by the recent earthquakes. They have two grown sons, one an artillery officer, the other a technical supervisor for a reality TV company.

Amazon author page:
Twitter: @aliciaregency
Books website. www.aliciarasleybooks.com
Edittorrent blog: http://www.edittorrent.blogspot.com.
- Craft of writing articles archived at www.sff.net/people/alicia/archive

Janet again. I'm serving corned beef hash and eggs for breakfast as I haven't had my fill of corned beef. For those of you who have there's an assortment of danish, along with tea, coffee and fresh berries. Leave a comment for Alicia's giveaway or for a chance to win a copy of my January release The Bounty Hunter's Redemption. 

 
     

133 comments:

Alicia Rasley said...

Hi, all! Thanks, Seekerville.
I'm exploring Journey more here: http://aliciarasleywritersjourney.blogspot.com/

Cindy W. said...

Great post Alicia. I'll need to come home tonight and 'study' it when I have more time.

I would love to have my name tossed in for the giveaway. Thank you for your generosity.

I pray everyone has a blessed week! Happy Speedboing.

Smiles & Blessings,
Cindy W.

Ruth Logan Herne said...

This is a writer's class in a blog! Alicia, thank you for all these notes of wisdom. How wonderfully articulate!

And Janet, I'm passing on the hash and going straight to the Danish. :)

AND COFFEE!!!!!

Alicia, thank you so much for being here!

Janet Dean said...

Good morning, Seekerville! Alicia, you were first!! Your blog Writers Journey is a great place for writers to get help with writing their stories.

Grabbing a cup of coffee.

Janet

Janet Dean said...

Cindy W, it's great to see you've mended and are back in the saddle. Oops, that sounds like a plug for Ruthy's book. :-) But I mean it sincerely!

Have a great week!

Janet

Janet Dean said...

Good morning, Ruthy! Knew you, our early bird, would beat me here. Have a great day Speedboing.

Janet

DebH said...

hi Alicia
Great post today. I can already look at my stuff and realize where I may be lacking in journey arc (usually the internal). Love the idea of both internal and external being braided together. I'll be checking out your blog. I would love my name in the draw for your generous book offering.

Janet, thanks for bringing Alicia to Seekerville!

Jill Weatherholt said...

Welcome, Alicia! Thank you for inviting her, Janet.
This post is a keeper...great stuff! No need to enter me in the drawing. I already have your book and it's full of highlights and post-its.

Glynna Kaye said...

Good morning ALICIA and welcome to Seekerville! I'm a long-time fan of your "The Story Within Guidebook" as well as "The Power of Point of View." So I'll definitely be checking out your new blog on character journey!

Do you have any tips you could share today on how to best weave the hero's and heroine's journey together in a romance novel? Most books/articles are about the protagonist's journey--singular--and don't address how to most effectively interweave the journeys of TWO leading characters. How to balance and develop them so that they complement each other to make the overall story stronger. Thank you!

Janet Dean said...

Good morning, DebH. Great to hear that Alicia's post helped you with your WIP. If you have specific questions, be sure and ask Alicia.

Janet

Janet Dean said...

Hi Jill. I'm tickled you studied The Bounty Hunter's Redemption. Hope it helps. You might want to put your name in for Alicia's Point of View craft book.

Janet

Janet Dean said...

Hi GLYNNA. Great to see you're also a fan of Alicia's craft books. Your question is a good one. A couple things I've tried that might help with braiding the hero and heroine's journey is to give them similar internal struggles/wounds or put their external goals in conflict. But I'm really looking forward to Alicia's take on this.

Janet

Jeanne T said...

Great post, Alicia! It's so full of great insights and suggestions. I love the generic suggestions you offer. I find I can easily get stuck in the same sort of character journey as I brainstorm new stories. :) My kids are home for Spring Break this week, but I'm hoping to have time to stop by your blog and check it out. ;)

Julie Lessman said...

WELCOME TO SEEKERVILLE, ALICIA -- it's great to have you here!!

And soooo timely as I've actually been a wee bit wobbly about my plot in my current WIP, so your brainstorm questions are very helpful. I especially like your list of "Some Protagonist Journeys" and found mine immediately, so THANK YOU for helping me to put a name to it so I can further flesh it out!!

I actually have a question about your giveaway book, The Power of Point of View. As an author, I'm very fond of multiple POVs and was wondering how you feel about them. I write Irish family sagas with lots of continuing characters, so I find it really helps me (and I hope the reader) to gain perspective through more than one POV. How do you feel about that and are there any warnings/suggestions you have if one does incorporate multiple POVs?

Thanks for your very helpful blog today, and hugs to Janet for bringing you here!

Hugs,
Julie

kaybee said...

Thank you, Alicia. This is a meaty post and I'm going to keep it. It pinpointed one of the struggles I'm having (or should be having) with my Speedbo project, a Christmas novella. In trying to keep the plot simple, I haven't given the heroine enough of an inward journey. And the hero has one, but I haven't resolve it. Oh, well, that's why we write -- and rewrite. Please enter me in drawing for either book.
Kathy Bailey
It is snowing in New Hampshire

kaybee said...

I had a good weekend. Wrote the fifth chapter of my Speedbo novella. Didn't get any further, but I don't care if it slops over into April because I've got nothing pending.
This was a good post. I think pretty much all I HAD was external conflict and journey, except for the hero's troubled childhood. Now I know what I need to work on. Besides finishing it.
KB

Lara (Storm) Hitchcock said...

Alicia, Thanks for the post. You've given me a lot to think about with regards to my current WIP. This one is quite a complex story involving multiple romance and character arcs. In that respect, it is probably something like George Eliot's Middlemarch. (Not bragging about quality here ... just comparing the complexity.) It's probably a bit nontraditional, but I kind of enjoy just seeing where a story goes first before trying to force action that may or may not seem natural. Perhaps that means I need some help with my plot. I would love to be entered for a copy of your book (and Janet's too for that matter). Thanks!

Janet Dean said...

Hi JEANNE T. Perhaps we writers need to write about a journey for our characters that we have walked or need to walk.

Have fun with your kids this week! Hope you find a few minutes to explore Alicia's blog.

Janet

Janet Dean said...

JULIE, I find putting a name to anything helps clarify what I'm trying to do. That's probably why I like to have the Goals, Motivations and Conflicts, the premise and the lies characters tell themselves on paper before I write.

Will be interesting to see Alicia's pointers for multiple Points of View.

Janet

Myra Johnson said...

Thanks for a very informative post and for being our guest today, Alicia! Your list of character journey examples is definitely something to print out and keep on hand for inspiration. Great brainstorming questions, too!

Janet Dean said...

Good morning, KAYBEE. Glad that Alicia's post helped you see what was missing for your heroine's journey in your novella. Congrats on your progress with Speedbo! I'm nodding at the slopping over into April comment. It sounds messy, doesn't it, but I'll be doing the same.

Janet

Mary Connealy said...

I love this. I am always looking for someone to explain things in new ways...in the hopes I can get it!!!!!!!!!!

Janet Dean said...

Good morning, LARA. Your story sounds interesting. I need to plot, plan, get the Goals, Motivations and Conflicts on paper before I can take off with my story. We all have different approaches to writing our stories. Whatever works is right.

Janet

Janet Dean said...

MYRA, good morning. I like the generic list of character journeys, too. I'm all for anything that can start the creative wheels turning!

Janet

Janet Dean said...

MARY, all those great books you write say you "get" it. You just don't name it. Intuitive writers rock!

Hope you had a fun birthday yesterday!

Janet

Ruth Logan Herne said...

Lara, what an interesting way of describing your story/work right now... I would love to hear more!

Vince said...

Hi Alicia:

"The Power of Point of View"
is my favorite writing craft book. I wish that it had been my first writing book because it puts every other writing book in context. In other words, it leverages everything else you learn about writing!

Some years ago I wrote a very strong review of this book and when I went back to read it this morning, it was gone! I think Amazon eats reviews!

Anyway, I wrote another review just now! Much quicker. I can tell you this: Philosophers will love this book. You can talk to the talk! It was music to my ears!

Now about the plot journey: A romance is like a double-helix: you have to coordinate two sides to make one journey. The hero and heroine are binary.

It's said that writing never gets easier with each book published; however, I think that's because good writers are always taking on greater writing challenges with each book -- otherwise it gets too boring.

Julie Lessman is like this. I'm reading her "Isle of Hope" and it has the hero and heroine flip from one being immoral and the other being very moral to just opposite and the journey involves flipping the bad one back to the moral side without also flipping the good one back to the dark side. I don't know what is more fun: reading the story or appreciating the skill it took to write this story.

I think reading "Isle of Hope" is twice the fun if you're a writer. I just had to mention this because some say a writer cannot enjoy a book as much a non-writing fan reader can. Not me. I think I enjoy well written books twice as much!

BTW: I have two copies of "The Power of Point of View". I just had to have a Kindle version to do searches. Is there a chance of being in a drawing for your Plot book?

I've been to your two websites and will be going back later to enjoy my fill.

Vince

Sandra Leesmith said...

Hi Janet Thank you for bringing Alicia to Seekerville. What a wonderful post, Alicia. Thank you for sharing. We are always striving for strong characters and plot in our stories. Great hints and advice.

Have fun today in Seekerville.

Sandra Leesmith said...

Thanks for letting us know about another resource Vince, Sounds like a good book to have.

I agree with your review of Isle of Hope . Our Julie is such a terrific writer.

Sandra Leesmith said...

Way to go Kaybee Congrats on getting that chapter done. Hang in there. You still have another week.

Janet Dean said...

Vince, thanks for sharing your appreciation for Alicia's The Power of Point of View book and her giveaway today!

Writers know the work it takes to write a book so appreciate the great stories all the more. I'm starting Isle of Hope today!

Janet

Janet Dean said...

Good morning, SANDRA. I love craft books and posts like this one. There's always a nugget--or several--that help me improve my writing. Still all that information in our heads has to translate to the page, and that means writing.

Janet

Debby Giusti said...

Alicia, thanks for a wonderful, insightful post. Thanks, Janet, for hosting today and bringing Alicia to Seekerville.

I'm doing a final review of a story synopsis and will use the information you provided to fine tune my submission. Thank you!

Laurie Wood said...

Thank you to both Alicia and Janet for this wonderful post! I'm revising a synopsis and this couldn't have come at a better time - I will use this post to bring it to life. I'd love to be entered in to the giveaway.

Laurie

Janet Dean said...

Good morning, Debby. Always good to get another story synopsis finalized. Writing a synopsis before the story is written can be tricky, at least for me. :-) Have fun fine tuning!

Janet

Janet Dean said...

Hi LAURIE. You and Debby are both working on your story synopsis. Glad the post helped you bring yours alive!

Janet

Barbara Scott said...

Hi Alicia! Welcome to Seekerville where we all have our noses to the grindstone(s) this month for Speedbo. I love your way of explaining the character's journey. Very helpful. Thanks for introducing us, Janet!

Since I've already read THE BOUNTY HUNTER'S REDEMPTION, Janet, (which I loved!) please throw my name in the hat for Alicia's The Power of Point of View. That's a biggie for me. Before I start a scene, I run it through my head and decide whether it's best told from the hero or heroine's POV. But this month, I'm on the Mary C. train--intuitive with a stopover in panster city.

Could I get a cuppa joe to go? Off to Kentucky during the Christmas season.

Tina Radcliffe said...

Welcome BACK to Seekerville, Alicia.

This is totally a post that is a workshop. I would love to know when you are presenting your workshop or if you might be presenting at any conferences or local RWA chapters.

Barbara Scott said...

I'm with Tina! Inquiring minds want to know about workshops.

Ruth Logan Herne said...

Barbara! How are you, my friend??? I can't wait to come to Nashville this summer and see you... and by that I mean "annoy" you!!!!

Yay!!!!

Happy to see your stopover in Pantser City. It's my hometown!

kaybee said...

Thank you, SANDRA. It helps that it's a novella.
Thank you, JANET. Maybe I should have said "extend" into April. Or since I'm pantsing blindly, maybe "slop" worked the first time. I got blindsided by a research question and couldn't write around it, but it will be all right.
Novellas really lend themselves to a Speedbo or NANO.
KB

Debra E. Marvin said...

ooooh, the balancing act. Use the tiny bit of writing time I have to write or to get deep into this 'lesson'?

The link for the archived writing articles isn't working, but it did send me out into Alicia's other links, and I enjoyed finding her short subject books as well.

Happy first week of spring!

Barbara Scott said...

Come on down, Ruthy! I can't wait to see everyone!! I'm already making plans for ACFW and hoping my advance that's coming in April will pay for my hotel and registration. A total God-thing!! You'll notice when I talk to you it's in exclamation points? Must be our secret code.

Anyway, you can't annoy me since you're one of my favorite people, but I bet we could get into a little mischief while you're here. :) Let's get the gang together and try.

This will be the first ACFW conference I've attended as a writer instead of an acquisitions editor. Fun, fun, fun!!!! No marathon appointment schedules (although I loved encouraging writers); no breakfast, lunch, and dinners with every agent in the CBA (but since they're all my friends I need to squeak in some schmoozing time with them), and no teaching workshops. I can actually attend a few!!!!

As for the old bod, I get my stitches out Thursday. Whoo-hoo!! Won't be riding any bulls for awhile, but hey, I can always whip out my cowboy guitar and pretend I can play it. LOL

Jan Drexler said...

Welcome, Alicia!

Thank you for the great post. It resonated with me because I plot through my character's arc, but you brought up several details and different ways to look at things. Definitely a keeper. I'll be reading through this more than once!

Tina Radcliffe said...

I am loving that list of journeys. That is a print up and tack to the wall alone. I spend a lot of time reviewing romance tropes and that is excellent.

Debby Giusti said...

Barbara, so glad you're feeling better!!! Glad you'll be at ACFW. Looking forward to seeing you there. The Seekers and Villagers always gather at the end of the day for light refreshment and lots of good conversation.

BTW, did you watch The Passion last night?

Debby Giusti said...

Vince, if you endorse Alicia's Point of View how-to, I should buy a copy! Thanks for your kind words about Julie's Isle of Hope. Also, I liked your comment about writers sometimes not enjoying books as much as they did in their pre-writing days. I haven't heard anyone mention that before, but it stands to reason.

Sounds like you read like an editor, as an old neighborhood writing coach used to say. That's a good thing!

Debby Giusti said...

I agree, Tina. Alicia's list is a keeper, for sure!

Alicia Rasley said...

Hi, all! So many comments! Let me take the questions one at a time so I'll seem a bit more coherent. :)
Glynna asked:
Do you have any tips you could share today on how to best weave the hero's and heroine's journey together in a romance novel? Most books/articles are about the protagonist's journey--singular--and don't address how to most effectively interweave the journeys of TWO leading characters. How to balance and develop them so that they complement each other to make the overall story stronger. Thank you! -

Glynna, great question. First, I'm going to give you the easy way, which won't fit all stories, especially big epic emotional ones.
1. So the easy way-- not so easy to execute, of course!-- is to think of the COUPLE having a journey to each other. So think about where the couple starts out, and where they'll end up.
For example, my Nat/Matt (Natasha and Matthew) as a couple start out as "frenemies"-- kind of friendly enemies... not really enemies, but two people who are within the same extended family and have had to be polite to each other for years to maintain family peace but have never really gotten along.
They will end up as "allies"-- realizing that they have always both been kind of outsiders in that family unit, and that they have much more in common than different. They even realize the differences make them more, not less, compatible, because as a couple, they are stronger for having different strengths.
So the couple moves from "opposition to alliance."
They each have their own journey, of course, but the -structural- journey, the one that organizes the plot, might be more about the couple as a unit.

2. Another relatively easy way to have two main characters with intersecting journeys might be to determine which of the two has the farthest to travel to get to the end (which in a romance novel, I think, is "being able to give and accept love freely").

Okay, this is getting too long! So I put the rest at the Journey blog-- I was afraid I'd type all this into the comment and then the internet would belch and it would all be lost! So the rest is here: http://aliciarasleywritersjourney.blogspot.com/p/glynnas-question.html
Thanks, Glynna! Meet me there.


Alicia Rasley said...

Vince, hi! I'm working on your question and will post at the Journey blog. I cannot seem to make concise responses, and your plot is so intriguing, I just am going on and on about it. :)
Alicia

Alicia Rasley said...

Barbara, good point! > Before I start a scene, I run it through my head and decide whether it's best told from the hero or heroine's POV. >

What makes it "best" for you? I often think that the person who has the most at stake in this scene will be the more effective POV character. Then again, sometimes there's a practical reason involved-- he is going to be right there where the action is taking place, so he'd be the better narrator usually.
What criterion do you usually use to make the decision?
Alicia

Alicia Rasley said...

Debra, sorry about the link! Try this. If it doesn't work, I'll have to check the settings, and I don't know WHAT that will entail. :) http://www.aliciarasley.com/archive.htm

Tina Radcliffe said...

These are interesting thoughts. I tend to always make the first kiss in the heroine's POV. Is there a time it would be better written from the hero's POV? Maybe a really wounded hero?

Hmmmm.....

Christina said...

Alicia, I love the idea of the external and internal plot braided together. I'm going to sit down and see if I can apply some of these great lessons today to my current WIP. I also just purchased your book, The Story Within Plotting Guide. Sounds like just what I need as I get deeper in my story.
I'd love to have my name tossed in to win The Power of Point of View.

Thanks!

Alicia Rasley said...

Vince, I don't have any print copies of the plot book, but we can have the Kindle copy as a prize too, no problem.
Alicia

Tina Radcliffe said...

Is there any chance any of your workbooks will be available in print at a future date (POV already is)? I find for writing resource books, I like print and the ability to mark them up.

Janet Dean said...

Hi BARBARA. Hope the coffee is keeping you warm in Kentucky in December! Grinning at the train you took. Hope you reach your destination all in one piece!!!!

Janet

Janet Dean said...

Tina and Barbara, I love Alicia's workbook because it's a workshop that keeps giving.

Janet

Janet Dean said...

Barbara, tickled we'll get to hook up at ACFW in Nashville! Yay!!

Janet

Janet Dean said...

Hi KAYBEE, novellas are perfect for Speedbo. Cheering you on! Sometimes we must know certain details to write, but most can wait. For me, stopping to research can be a less guilt ridden form of procrastination.

Janet

Janet Dean said...

Good afternoon, DEBRA. Alicia has a lot of helpful booklets on craft. Sorry about that link. Maybe we can figure out what's wrong.

Janet

Janet Dean said...

BARBARA, Thursday is remove the stitches day. Yay! Isn't the body's ability to heal amazing?

A little mischief in Nashville sounds like fun! Bring your guitar so we'll "fit" the music scene. LOL

Janet

Janet Dean said...

Hi JAN. I need to reread posts to absorb all the information. Sometimes more than twice.

Great to see you as always!

Janet

Myra Johnson said...

Waving to BARBARA! So glad you're doing better this week and back in the writing groove! I'm registered for ACFW and it will be wonderful to see you again!!! Seekers & friends always have a blast at conferences!

(Obviously this !!! thing is contagious in Seekerville!!!)

Janet Dean said...

ALICIA, you're smart to fear Blogger might eat your comment. We've all had it happen. Thanks for the thorough answer to Glynna's question. I need to reread and boil down all the great information you've given her.

Janet

Janet Dean said...

Tina, interesting question. Now I want to win Alicia's book on The Power of Point of View because I suspect that's the kind of thing she covers.

Janet

Alicia Rasley said...

Julie, > How do you feel about that and are there any warnings/suggestions you have if one does incorporate multiple POVs?

Julie, multiple POV is a good choice for a lot of novels, especially, as you say, when you want to juxtapose perspectives. I think of it as more "cinematic" (and modern) because there's the assumption that the reader/viewer will know the truth only by experiencing several perspectives. (That is, the reader isn't going to read what Tom says and assume it's the total truth.)

I would just say that you need to be sure that you want to challenge the reader that way. This might have to do with the author's personality (obviously, if you're kind of skeptical and think that reality is more of a collage than a photograph, that belief will show through in your books). But it might also reflect the story. I had a book (The Year She Fell) where an event had happened in the distant past, and everyone involved had a different view on what really occurred there, and not one of the views was entirely accurate, and until they were all laid out, there was no way to really know what the truth was. That's a good reason for multiple viewpoint, because the book's central praxis or progress was towards putting together all the differing narratives.

Anyway, multiple POV can be a great choice for many novels. A couple tips-- multiple can be distracting and lessen reader identification when this story is really about one person. If this is a deep psychological journey story for Paul, and everything is related to his own experience and thoughts and feelings, we probably would find other perspectives annoying. We need to go through the journey with him, without insights or digressions from others. So multiple POV might not be a good choice for a story centered on one character's internal journey.

Also if you're submitting to traditional publishers and agencies, be aware of this-- we know more about POV than most editors and agents. (Don't tell them I said that, but I speak from experience of a dozen editors and seven agents. :) They generally know one thing-- "Single POV is best, at least within a scene." Many editors "know that's true" and might have that as an unconscious or unspoken "rule." In that case, the best way to get around this is to have the first couple scenes in one main character's POV. Once you get the editor past the automatic assumption (Single Is Best) into the story, you can get away with more multiple. This is more about editor-wrangling than writing, but I have always found the more conventional you can be in the opening scenes, probably the better when it comes to editors.

Finally, you can overcome some of the distancing effect almost inherent in multiple POV (because letting the reader juxtapose different characters' viewpoints will lessen the deep identification-- no getting around that) by staying in one character's viewpoint until you HAVE to change. That is, don't change for no or trivial reasons. Change from Tom to Mary because you really want to show Mary's different understanding of what just happened, or because the conflict between the two perspectives is funny or illustrative. The more precise and meaningful your shifts, the more the reader will get the benefits of the multiple experience.
No rules, just tools! And in the POV book, I really try to make the point that it's not a moral issue (purist vs. slut!), and multiple POV isn't "sloppy." Rather it gives readers a different (not worse!) experience of the story. But I also have observed most of us are inherently single or inherently multiple, and it's probably not worth it to fight our own nature! Go with your strength and do it well-- and I can tell you know what the benefits of multiple POV are and how they can give readers a good experience.
Alicia

Janet Dean said...

Hi CHRISTINA. I hope The Story Within helps you as much as it does me. I made a document of the main points in each section and go through that with every book. It helps me "see" my story.

Janet

Debby Giusti said...

Tina, I like print how-to books, as well. Then I can return to certain sections easily, and as you mentioned, mark favorite passages.

Alicia Rasley said...

Tina, I'm working on making print editions of the plotbook and other material, yes! That's on my "spring" to-do list. (Soon to become my "summer" to-do list!)
Alicia

Alicia Rasley said...

Lara, yes, sometimes it feels so right just to let the story come out as you write. It might help to forget about structure in this draft, and then when you're ready to do a second draft, start by outlining what you've written and see what's there! What do you think you'll do? Another draft? I wish I could write that way-- to get the wonder of discovery, and then be able to revise as needed. I'm one of those who has to write a sentence, and then edit it-- the worst process of all!
Alicia

Barbara Scott said...

Debby,it sounds like the Seeker Villagers have their own mini-conference every day at ACFW. How fun!! Keep me in the loop. :)

I was going to watch the Passion last night but DVR'd it instead. I'm glad I did. Some people have said all the commercials almost ruined it. Now I can just zip through those.

Barbara Scott said...

Good questions, Alicia! [What makes it "best" for you? I often think that the person who has the most at stake in this scene will be the more effective POV character. Then again, sometimes there's a practical reason involved-- he is going to be right there where the action is taking place, so he'd be the better narrator usually. What criterion do you usually use to make the decision?]

Since I'm an action-oriented gal (I subscribe to Mary C.'s viewpoint that if the plot is sagging, shoot somebody) I decide whose POV will move the plot forward in the most effective way. Can a secret thought be revealed? A bit of motivation? A pivotal moment when we learn what makes a character tick? Most crucial . . . the scene MUST have a reason for its existence. If I can cut a scene and no one would be the wiser, then I need to rethink the scene and rewrite it or come at the action from a different POV.

Barbara Scott said...

Thanks for the coffee, Janet!! My characters are trapped during an ice/snowstorm like the Kentucky blizzard of 2015 and lose power. Of course, there's a suitable chaperone. :)

Barbara Scott said...

Waving at Myra!!! Can't wait to catch up with you at ACFW!! I call this the exclamation-point flu!!!!! Since we can't use them in our writing, I kinda go overboard in personal communication. :)

Sandy Smith said...

Thanks for being here today, Alicia. I will really study what you have said in this post. I think it will be helpful. I am writing my first novel, which I started during Speedbo last year and haven't gone back to until this year. However, I plan to keep working on it now. I was also glad to see Julie's question and your answer about multiple POV's. My novel uses multiple POV's as it concerns a tornado that hits a town and how that affects several characters. I always keep the same POV within a scene before I move on to another character.

Please enter me in the drawing.

Barbara Scott said...

See you in August, Janet!!! I suppose I could buy a pair of cowboy boots and strum my guitar on Broadway (strum being the operative word) to pay my way to ACFW. I'd have to change my ways though: I now have fingernails, no callouses, and would have to dig out my electronic tuner. Oh, and practice ... a lot.

Okay...back to writing. See ya later!!

Missy Tippens said...

So good to have you with us today, Alicia! I'm a huge fan of The Story Within Plotting guide!

I loved this post. I'm going to go now to make sure I'm using the character's journey in plotting my scenes.

Janet Dean said...

Alicia, my publisher Love Inspired wants only the hero and heroine's point of view. That's not an issue for me as I don't write family sagas like Julie does. I have wished for the villain's point of view but I've discovered not knowing what's going on in his mind can be scarier.

Janet

Janet Dean said...

ALICIA, I'm addicted to revising as I write. It slows me down, but I've decided to accept my process unless it keeps me from making forward progress.

Janet

Janet Dean said...

BARBARA, better have a chaperone to keep our readers happy and our characters in line. :-)

Janet

Janet Dean said...

BARBARA, I'll drop some money in your cowboy hat if you get your hands and courage toughened up between now and then. :-)

Janet

Christina said...

Thanks JANET! I can't wait to dig in to Alicia's book!

Tina Radcliffe said...

Great to know, Alicia. I'll subscribe to your newsletter so I'll know when they are out in print! Thank you!

Missy Tippens said...

Tina, interesting thought on the first kiss!

I just visited Alicia's blog and found some great stuff there (including the answer to Glynna's question as she mentioned).

Janet Dean said...

Good afternoon, MISSY! Lots in the post to digest. We writers can feel powerful when we create a plot that forces characters to make the journey to growth and change and that happy ending.

Janet

Janet Dean said...

ALICIA, can you give the link to your answer to Vince's question? I can't find it.

Janet

Lara (Storm) Hitchcock said...

JANET, Thank you for your reply. It's interesting to hear about your method. If I waited to have all of that down on paper, my story would never get itself off the ground. :-) I'm glad it works for you though. I sometimes wish I could outline a story. I've started doing that a bit with this one retroactively, just to try to stay organized, but there's still a lot of chaos. Nevertheless I have the basic ideas in my head and, between that and my messy “ideas file,” I can usually find what I need to with a little searching.

Lara (Storm) Hitchcock said...

RUTH, thanks for your interest. Perhaps the following description (regarding both process and plot) will satisfy a bit of your curiosity:

In my writing, I always seem to start out with just the fragment of an idea, and gradually—through simultaneously writing scenes and brainstorming plot, dialogue, character backstory, etc—I build up the story. In my current WIP, the original idea I started out with (“What happens when a pregnant woman ends up in a coma?” … now part II of my plot line) was supposed to be the main thrust of the story (and might've made it less complex if I'd stuck with just that). But as I started creating the other characters, building up their interrelationships, and exploring their backstories, I decided I needed to jump backward in time (to part I, following a different set of characters no less).

Prior to Speedbo, I had written and pondered the latter part of the story (II: involving the coma mother … and also her husband, who never wanted to have children). During this month, I have been focusing mostly on what was supposed to have been the backstory for two minor characters: (1) Cory: an optimistic boy with cystic fibrosis whose goals of having a family (he never knew his parents) and being a soldier are fundamentally out of reach (2) and his much older, perfectly healthy sister, Karen, who—because of a dark secret from her past—is not only cynical about everything and everyone (cynical especially about her brother's prospects of reaching his goals), but also emotionally unavailable to a younger brother who desperately needs a sense of love and belonging. Add to that their Polish grandmother, the one person who binds their nontraditional family together and who dies near the beginning of the book, and an annoying girl (with a secret crush) who ends up being, in the form of a friend, the family Cory desperately needs, and you will have some idea of the conflict that ensues.

As the story progresses from part I to II, the lives of these two sets of characters intersect and more stuff happens. Way to be vague, right?! But I guess I'm not ready to reveal any more of my plot just yet. Besides, I've already taken up too much commentary space ;-)

Lara (Storm) Hitchcock said...

ALICIA, I too do a lot of editing. That's why I thought Speedbo would be nearly impossible for someone like me. What it did for me, however, was help me to get past that stage of shooting down all my ideas before I could even begin. In this month I've been doing some rough scenes and some with more editing, however the mood strikes me. But I have been known to spend hours crafting a single paragraph!! As I said above, I am doing a bit of outlining this time. I don't know that I'll do a complete overhaul if that's what you meant by a second draft, but I will definitely go back through and start ironing out the kinks. In some places there's some really bad writing. In others, not so bad. Some things will need to be fleshed out more (turn the tells into shows, add more emotion and description, etc). Perhaps some things will need to be cut back or rearranged/reordered. And I'm sure there will still be some gaps to fill. Thanks again for your blog post!

Lara (Storm) Hitchcock said...

VINCE, The premise of your story sounds fascinating. Very creative. Good luck with it!

Alicia Rasley said...

Vince, I answered your question here:
http://aliciarasleywritersjourney.blogspot.com/p/vinces-example-exile-to-home-or-vice.html

Thanks for the comment! It sounds really good.
Alicia

Alicia Rasley said...

JAnet, I wasn't done with the answer to Vince's question (it ended up 100 pages, no, not really :), but here it is that I've finally finished:
http://aliciarasleywritersjourney.blogspot.com/p/vinces-example-exile-to-home-or-vice.html

Alicia Rasley said...

Kaybee, what do you think the heroine's inner journey is? That is a good way to deepen a story, definitely!
Alicia

Alicia Rasley said...

Tina, I mostly teach online now, but I do love to give face-to-face workshops. Any chapter that wants me, tell them to contact me! I don't travel much in the winter because I live in the north and you know, snow. But spring is sprung!

Wilani Wahl said...

This post looks like a definite keeper and one for me to look at when I am feeling better. Went to the doctor today and I have to be on a liquid diet for a week at least. In addition to the diverticulitis, he discovered I have tenderness where the appendix is. Even though it showed up normal on the scan last week, he wants to keep an eye on it.

I am still plugging away writing when I am able. I figure while I am recovering even 200 words is better than nothing even though it isn't near the 1,000 I wanted.

I am so grateful for everyone's prayers. The Lord is so good.

Alicia Rasley said...

That sounds painful, Wilani! I hope just taking it easy makes it better.

Janet Dean said...

VINCE, for some reason your comment about your novel didn't show up for me. I saw what you had to say when I went out to Alicia's blog. I'm blown away by your creativity!

Janet

Janet Dean said...

ALICIA, loved your answer! Hope Vince checks in and tells us what resonates with his image of the story.

Off to listen to your music on YouTube. You're the first to provide music to mesh with an answer. You rock!!

Janet

Janet Dean said...

LARA, your story is intriguing! I'm so glad Speedbo has helped you move forward with the story!!

Janet

Janet Dean said...

WILANI, I'm praying your appendix won't create new problems, but I'm glad your doctor is keeping an eye on it. Words on the page matter. Hope you feel good as new soon.

Janet

Mary Lawson said...

Enjoyed reading this and will save because I know I will be going back to it many times.

Loraine Nunley said...

Oh wow! So much good information here Alicia. I am bookmarking this to come back to and I am headed over to your websites to dig a little deeper. Please put me in the giveaway for Alicia's book. Thanks so much!!

Laura Conner Kestner said...

Thank you for such an interesting post, ALICIA and JANET. Learned a lot today - and will save the post for further study. You answered my questions in your replies to Julie and Glynna. Thanks again!

Jackie said...

Hi Alicia,

I just got home from a work seminar, and I couldn't wait to see what you shared today. Thanks for stopping by Seekerville. This is definitely a keeper post.

Have a great week!

Alicia Rasley said...

Thanks, Jackie and Loraine!

Alicia Rasley said...

Lara, that's a great revision note too-- turn the tells into shows!

Chill N said...

My goodness, this post is a class in itself! Thank you, Alicia. Thank you, Janet, for inviting Alicia.

Nancy C
P.S. Don't enter me in the drawing. I have both books :-)

Janet Dean said...

Hi MARY. Alicia is a great teacher. But I need to hear the same lessons many times.

Janet

Janet Dean said...

Hi LORAINE. You're in the giveaway for Alicia's book. I know it'll be great!

Janet

Janet Dean said...

Good evening, LAURA. Nice when someone asks the questions you want to ask.

Janet

Lara (Storm) Hitchcock said...

JANET, thanks for the compliment. Writing it out like that renewed my excitement about the premise of my WIP, but I'm afraid the writing will need quite a lot of work when I'm done with the first draft. I think this is where I struggle the most, perhaps. Not necessarily with the story line, although I'm sure that could use improvement too, but with the writing style. Trying to figure out how to remake it into what it needs to be. I think I've gotten to the point where I can recognize poor or mediocre writing in my own work, but I'm not always sure how to fix it. My eyes are still opening to these kinds of issues ... but I feel like writing is just like that. No matter how long you write, there is always something you could still improve. Does anyone else out there feel that way? (Any tips on revising style or recommendations for instructive reading. I did enjoy and find Julie's Romance-ology book to be helpful, but, echoing what Mary Connealy said, I too could benefit from hearing the same kinds of things explained in different ways. And maybe little by little it will actually sink in!!)

Happy writing, all!

Janet Dean said...

Hi JACKIE. Love your enthusiasm--especially after a seminar at work. You rock!

Janet

Janet Dean said...

Hi NANCY. Applauding you for having both books. Seems like you should win something more than our thanks. But...

Thanks!
Janet

Glynna Kaye said...

Thank you, Alicia, for the great info regarding my question that you put on your blog! I've copied it and your post off and plan to read & re-read both!

Janet Dean said...

LARA, I agree. There is always more to learn. Seekerville has a lot of great posts in our archives that might be helpful. Scroll down to find a long list of topics to the right of this post. Posts on Goal, Motivation and Conflict and on Scene and Sequel are meaty topics and there's a lot of posts on revisions. Have fun!

Janet

Janet Dean said...

GLYNNA, there's a lot of information in Alicia's answer. I know I'll be rereading it.

Janet

Lyndee H said...

Hi Alicia and JANET,
This post is so timely as I work out the synopsis on my next WIP. Great questions, great guidance. I can see how to move this baby forward! Thank you!

Tanya Agler said...

Alicia, Thank you because I am working hard to improve my characters' internal conflict. Any questions that will help me when I brainstorm are always so appreciated. I just looked at your Mar. 15 blog and will be visiting it again tomorrow to leave a question and comment as I am very much learning the positives of in-depth brainstorming and not just being satisfied with the first question but digging further and further. Thank you.

Angela K Couch said...

Great post! This is my quick hi-bye, as the kids are in bed, the husband is off and I'm behind on my writing today! I'm working with my hero going from sin to redemption and heroine from bitterness to forgiveness...course she doesn't know what he did yet, but she'll be as mad as a stomped-on hornet's nest by the end of the week. :)

Janet Kerr said...

Great post Alicia. This one deserves a closer look. It is interesting how the emotional journey fits our lives too.
I am on your writer's journey website now. Looks like there is a lot to absorb...thank you.
Jan

Vince said...

Hi Alicia and others:

I finally got back to your website and answered your questions. I'm having trouble seeing and writing right now so it took some time but I hope it will be interesting for those who expressed an interest. This is a 120,000 page book so it is quite large.

Thanks Alicia for all the attention you gave this work. It will take me some time to digest all your suggestions.

Vince

Julie Lessman said...

VINCE SAID: "It's said that writing never gets easier with each book published; however, I think that's because good writers are always taking on greater writing challenges with each book -- otherwise it gets too boring.Julie Lessman is like this. I'm reading her "Isle of Hope" and it has the hero and heroine flip from one being immoral and the other being very moral to just opposite and the journey involves flipping the bad one back to the moral side without also flipping the good one back to the dark side. I don't know what is more fun: reading the story or appreciating the skill it took to write this story."

Gosh, Vince, I never thought about it, but your statement, "the journey involves flipping the bad one back to the moral side without also flipping the good one back to the dark side" is so true! This is one of the reasons I appreciate your insight so much, because it's always SO much deeper than mine! ;)

YOU ALSO SAID: I think reading "Isle of Hope" is twice the fun if you're a writer. I just had to mention this because some say a writer cannot enjoy a book as much a non-writing fan reader can. Not me. I think I enjoy well written books twice as much!"

Aw, thank you, my friend -- I'm so glad you are enjoying IOH!! And I have to admit that I actually enjoy reading my own books as much as I do writing them -- sometimes more -- because I actually write them for God and myself with all the drama, angst, and passion I love so much. Which is actually why I started writing in the first place -- to give residence to all that lovely drama and passion within me into a love story. Trust me, my husband is grateful because that way, I don't put it into my marriage! ;)

Hugs,
Julie

Julie Lessman said...

ALICIA SAID: "I would just say that you need to be sure that you want to challenge the reader that way."

Point taken! I have found that when it comes to romance, many readers want a more linear plot without much deviation, so I realize now that I've limited my readership in the CBA with this and other "differences," but as you have implied in your comments, one must be true to one's own nature.

YOU ALSO SAID: "Also if you're submitting to traditional publishers and agencies, be aware of this-- we know more about POV than most editors and agents. (Don't tell them I said that, but I speak from experience of a dozen editors and seven agents. :) They generally know one thing-- "Single POV is best, at least within a scene."

LOL, yes, I ran into this A LOT, but you'll be happy to know I stayed true to myself in this regard and got published despite it, so THANK YOU for your support for multiple POV!

YOU SAID: "Many editors "know that's true" and might have that as an unconscious or unspoken "rule."In that case, the best way to get around this is to have the first couple scenes in one main character's POV. Once you get the editor past the automatic assumption (Single Is Best) into the story, you can get away with more multiple. This is more about editor-wrangling than writing, but I have always found the more conventional you can be in the opening scenes, probably the better when it comes to editors."

WOW, EXCELLENT suggestion, Alicia -- THANK YOU!! I didn't do that in my books, but i can see how that would have been a huge benefit.

YOU ALSO SAID: "Finally, you can overcome some of the distancing effect almost inherent in multiple POV (because letting the reader juxtapose different characters' viewpoints will lessen the deep identification-- no getting around that) by staying in one character's viewpoint until you HAVE to change."

I definitely try to do this. I can't explain it, but it's almost a natural thing when I do switch POV, like I'm compelled to do it, and although I don't do it in every book to the same degree, I hope it feels as naturally to the reader as it does to me.

FINALLY, YOU SAID: "I really try to make the point that it's not a moral issue (purist vs. slut!), and multiple POV isn't "sloppy." Rather it gives readers a different (not worse!) experience of the story. But I also have observed most of us are inherently single or inherently multiple, and it's probably not worth it to fight our own nature! Go with your strength and do it well-- and I can tell you know what the benefits of multiple POV are and how they can give readers a good experience."

LOL ... love the "purist vs. slut" analogy, because I have to admit, I did feel that way more than once based on people's disapproval! ;) Your statement that "it's probably not worth it to fight our own nature" is soooo true and convinces me -- along with all of your other dead-on responses -- that I should buy your book! :)

Thank you again for taking the time to respond to my question with such depth and accuracy.

Hugs!!
Julie

Julie Lessman said...

LOL, Janet, I hear you! :)

Thanks, Sandra, for your sweet comment, my friend, and right back at ya!! :)

SANDY SAID: "I was also glad to see Julie's question and your answer about multiple POV's. My novel uses multiple POV's as it concerns a tornado that hits a town and how that affects several characters."

WOW, Sandy, that sounds like the perfect place to use multiple POV, my friend, so you go, girl! And I don't know if you did it, but I think Alicia's suggestion to implement in the first chapter to acclimate the reader to MPOV is an excellent suggestion!

LARA SAID: "No matter how long you write, there is always something you could still improve. Does anyone else out there feel that way? (Any tips on revising style or recommendations for instructive reading. I did enjoy and find Julie's Romance-ology book to be helpful, but, echoing what Mary Connealy said, I too could benefit from hearing the same kinds of things explained in different ways. And maybe little by little it will actually sink in!!)"

Thanks, Lara, for your kind comment on Romance-ology, and my answer to your question is a resounding, YES, YES, YES!! I suspect if we stop feeling that way, something's wrong ... at least with me. I don't expect to feel otherwise till I'm on the other side of the Pearly Gates! ;)

Hugs,
Julie


Vince said...

Good Morning:

Correction. I was very tired yesterday. I even wrote that my book in questions was '120,000' pages! Of course, I meant words. I'll leave the 120,000 page books up to Julie Lessman. : )

That book by the way took two years for the first draft. I think it would be easier to climb Mount Everest in my current condition than go thru three or four more edits to get it into publishable shape. Writers who stay with it to the end are really amazing people.

Vince

Vince said...

Hi Julie:

You wrote:

"And I have to admit that I actually enjoy reading my own books as much as I do writing them -- sometimes more --"

I think many writers will report the same feelings.

It's sometimes said that 'familiarity breeds contempt'... and I have found that the more I work on a manuscript, the more I get to dislike it.

Each change, each edit, each rethinking of the approach to take, these all stay in the mind and leaves memory tracks. These false attempts cloud the effect of the writing.

It's easy to only see your WIP with all its past defects. It's said that A.J. Cronin was so disgusted with his multi-revised "The Citadel" that he threw the only copy in the trash.

The farmer, who was renting him the farm house so he could write in peace, took the manuscript out of the trash and sent it to a publisher who accepted it. BTW: my old advertising boss sat me down and read me this whole story in his office once because he thought the lesson was so important for a writer to learn!

Bottom line: sometimes I read things I wrote a year or more ago and think it is so good that I don't believe that I wrote it. All the false attempts are forgotten and all I see is what a reader would see. I've even Googled parts of the text just to make sure the copy was not an unattributed part of another author's work.

It's just amazingly easy to believe you've written rubbish. It's like the mudrakers (Pilgrim's Progress) who are always looking down into the mud -- it seems writers are always looking for mistakes or ways to improve what they've written.

I think it is absolutely necessary to have our moments when our copy seems too good to be written by us. : )

Vince

Jessica Ferguson said...

I was so looking forward to this post, then got busy so I'm chiming in late! The info here is super for helping me work through the rough draft of my novella. Thanks Alicia!

Alicia Rasley said...

Angela, good thought here= "my hero going from sin to redemption and heroine from bitterness to forgiveness"-- that's a good example of twinned journeys in the same "hue" but not identical. They are both "moral issues" in the sense that they're both concerned with 'right and wrong'. And probably "forgiveness" is part of the journey for both. Either before or after his redemption (not sure which), the hero will have to forgive himself, don't you think?

Vince, LOL about 120K pages. Sometimes a project feels that long! I actually like revising (it's the writing I'm slow at), so I would love to have a long draft to dive into and "fix". My problem is getting that long draft! One thing to consider is... what's the job only you can do? That's probably getting the structure into shape to shape your vision the way you want the reader to get it. Much of this will already be in the book as your original vision would have done that. But you might look at ways to emphasize and focus. Don't think of it as "editing" because that sounds tedious! Think of this as the process of emphasizing and clarifying for the reader's experience. Draft 2 is for the reader! :)

Julie and Sandy, stay true to yourselves and the unique qualities of your stories. I think it's important-- in our somewhat narcissistic era-- to say that the entire world shouldn't always be seen through one perspective, that multiple viewpoints can illuminate the shadows. :)

Alicia

Deanna Stevens said...

As a reader I certainly learned a lot about what writers think about today! As I read down the list I could picture books I had seen with those plots.. Interesting, thank you...
Please toss me into the dish for The Bounty Hunter's Redemption.

Alicia Rasley said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Alicia Rasley said...

Glynna, Vince, and Dana kindly offered their own story journeys as examples for me to cogitate about, so you might have fun checking those out! Here's the link-- their "journeys" and my comments are in the "Pages" on the left of the home-page:
http://aliciarasleywritersjourney.blogspot.com

Alicia

Beth Erin said...

The more I learn about the amount of work you writers do, the more I love you all for doing it! Thanks for the danish too, yummy! Please toss my name in the hat for The Bounty Hunter's Redemption and excuse my tardiness. I fell sorely behind on my email and blog reading!