Friday, August 29, 2014

Writer Rehab Series : Salvation for the Plotless Wonder

I'm continuing the Writer Rehab series today-(Overcoming Goldilocks Syndrome & Writers Who Don't Write 'The End.' ). 

I've spent my share of time in writer rehab, so always know that I speak from having been there and yes, I have the t-shirt.

I've written and been stuck in the middle or sometimes the end of many a plotless wonder.

 No mandatory testing in this rehab, but if you can count any number of manuscripts you have started and abandoned or you have manuscripts that have been rejected due to lack of a viable plot, you need to be here. 

Get comfortable as we dissect this problem.

 Does your story have plot? 

First...what is plot?

Plot consists of the internal and external story goals, and the sequence of events as the protagonist/s moves toward those goals.

 Those goals are the destination of your character's story journey. The destination must be specific-you must be able to verbalize when your protagonist will arrive at their destination. You cannot arrive someplace without a map and a location.  Can you verbalize the internal and external destination?

 Conflict consists of the obstacles that are in the way of reaching their destination. What are the obstacles on your character's road? They must be threatening enough to make the reader worry right along with your character.

Sure you know the rule: Emotion on every page. 
But how do you get that emotion on every page?
By creating conflict on every page.


The truth about Episodic Writing: This phenomena occurs when there is a lovely scene is in your story which fails to advance the plot. See Janet Dean's post, "No Tea Scenes Allowed," if you need a better explanation. 

Episodic Writing occurs for two reasons: 

1. The internal and or external goals, motivations and conflicts are weak or missing.

2. You are missing scene goals that move each scene toward the external and internal goals. 

The Solution?

1. Create strong internal and external goals with believable motivation and conflict (obstacles to those goals.)

If you have serious problems with  internal and external goals and charting them, re-read Debra Dixon's Goal, Motivation and Conflict.

Author Shawntelle Madison has created a GMC Wizard for you to use.

 2. Scene goals

Scene functions to create emotion, move the story forward and create interest. Think of them as units of conflict. Several units of conflict make a chapter.

Structure of Scenes:

  • Goal->Character wants something
  • Conflict ->2 characters with incompatible goals
  • Disaster->hook & unexpected development at the end of the scene

Yes, you need Goal, Motivation and Conflict (Disaster) in your scenes too. Many of you already do this without thinking by ending on a hook or an internal.

The Journey.

Michael Hauge (our therapist for this part of rehab) breaks down the journey toward the destination into specific turning points. The formula is called the Six Stage Plot Structure of the internal and external journey.

For those of you unfamiliar with Hauge, the internal journey is the character growth arc. The growth as he defines it is from identity (how the character defines himself to the world to) to essence (their full potential that they are avoiding out of fear).

 Let me recap: six specific steps toward the destination. You can find a handy form here.  

The following is my translation of the Hero's Journey for a short romance. Adjust as needed for a novella and a longer novel.

The External Journey is in Black-The Internal Journey in Red:

 Act 1 Stage 1 (living fully in identity)
 0% Set Up
Introduction and identification. The character’s everyday life.  This is who the character was YESTERDAY.

10% Turning Point 1.
Opportunity-An opportunity presents itself. The opportunity is not your character’s desire or goal. Sometimes opportunity is simply new geography.

Opportunity creates:


Act 1 Stage 2  (50 page point  based on a 300 page story) (Glimpses, longing or destiny. Character gets a peek at living in their essence but shrugs it off)

25 % New Situation-A new situation arises. The hero learns the rules of the new situation. Generally, the character thinks this is going to be fun.

Turning Point 2-Change of plans. (50-100 pages in)
Structurally, this is the most important turning point. The finish line is established here at the 25% point. THIS IS YOUR EXTERNAL GOAL. Notice how nicely it corresponds with the end of chapter three hook?

Act II Stage 3 Progress (100-125 pages in) (Moving toward essence without leaving identity. Starting to accept the possibility of essence. Starting to pursue their longing.)
New Plan seems to be working. Obstacles are bypassed or overcome or delayed. Then things begin to be a lot tougher than the character bargained for.

50% Turning Point 3 –The point of no return. The midpoint.  (around 150 page point)
This when the traveler is closer to the destination than the point of origin. The character is so committed to the goal, that there is no turning back. There is no return to the life they were living –all bridges are burned. It is when the character’s life they have been living previously is over.

They are forced into:


Act II Stage 4 Complications and higher stakes. (at 175-200 page point) (Fully committed to essence, but fear is escalating. The protagonist is so frightened by internal conflict they retreat.)
Two things happen as a result of the character's full commitment:
1. It becomes more difficult to accomplish the goal.
2. It becomes more important to accomplish the goal.
Stakes are higher. Obstacles are greater.

75% Turning Point 4 Major Setback (at approximately 200-250 page point)

It must seem to the reader and the character that ALL IS LOST!
The character is left with very few options. The original plan is gone. But they can’t give up as their bridges have been burned.

Their only choice is the final push:

90-%  Act III Stage 5 Final Push (around 250 pages in-flexible)(Character is living their true vulnerable self, (the mask is off) with everything to lose. They realize that the old identity doesn’t work and they must be true to themselves and find their essence and thus their destiny.)

Everything is at risk. The character gives it all to achieve the goal or die trying. Everything must be at stake.

99% Turning Point 5 Climax- The journey is resolved and all goals tied up. (Climax is not only the moment of achieving the visible goal, but it is also the moment of fully realizing the character’s essence.)

Where the climax occurs (page count and percentage point) depends on how much time you need to reach Stage 6.

100% Stage 5 Aftermath. The journey is complete.   (The character’s new life in essence.)

The reader must see the new life, or if the character dies, they must be allowed to experience that emotion. The character can fail or change their mind, but the ending must be a resolution.

Optional Epilogue

For your convenience I am sharing my S.S.P.S handouts. This is how I plot. They are in  in PDF format here. The spaces are for you to enter your hero and heroine information. Here is a clip of Michael Hauge's The Hero's Two Journey's, where the Six Stage Structure originates.

As always, I am willing to put my money where my mouth is. One commenter who admits to needing rehab will win a copy of the DVD version of The Hero's Two Journeys. 

Additionally, because writer friends shouldn't let writer friends write plotless, I have another giveaway. Nominate a writer friend who would benefit from this and I will send one nominee the audio version of The Hero's Two Journeys. If you're in a critique group, nominate each other. The winner will not be announced publicity. Instead they will receive a private email announcing their win. Send your nominations to with NOMINATION in the subject header. You only have until midnight tonight (that's Friday by 11:59 PM EST) to get your nomination in.

And two readers can win a copy of my latest release from Love Inspired, Stranded with the Rancher (print to USA and Canada, ebook release September 1 to international. 

(And all those waiting for a copy to arrive, note I have completed my mailings and they are all on the way.)

The Doctor and the Cowboy

Stranded at single father Dan Gallagher's ranch during a Colorado blizzard, Dr. Beth Rogers is counting the days till the roads are clear. She can't wait to leave for her exciting new life in New York. But suddenly the big-city doctor is delivering babies in log cabins, helping to feed newborn calves and teaching Dan's little girl to play hymns on the piano. No-nonsense Beth even throws a snowball or two at the handsome, love-shy cowboy. She thought she had her heart set on leaving, so why does she dream of Dan asking her to stay forever?

Tina Radcliffe writes fun, inspirational romance for Love Inspired. She is a 2014 ACFW Mentor of the Year finalist and a 2014 ACFW Carol Award finalist in the short novel category, with her first Paradise book, Mending the Doctor’s Heart. Her latest Paradise book, Stranded with the Rancher is a September release. She also runs My Critique Partner service.

And if you liked this post, parts of which are from my online class, consider signing up for the Self-Editing for Beginners in October in Seekerville’s Night Classes

And one more note, if you're hungry, I'm serving Burrito Bowls today in the Yankee Belle Cafe AND, you can have another chance to win Stranded with the Rancher if you will please and thank you, go  say hi and happy birthday at Stitches Thru Time Blog and grab some birthday cake. They're celebrating their blog birthday over there.

P.S. Don't forget that it's Freebie Friday at eHarlequin. Buy three books and get the fourth one free.

P.S.S. I am not the only Seeker who has been in rehab. Check out this photo of Debby Giusti, Missy Tippens and Janet Dean (R) with Michael Hauge.


  1. Big mistake. Eating burrito bowl and going for cake at Stitches in Time.


    Will have to stay up and write to burn up some calories.

  2. I KNEW this was a Tina post. Will have to come back to read in the morning with coffee in hand.

  3. Yay for a great post, Tina!

    I've been plotting away with Michael Hauge (The Hero's Journey), Stanley Williams (Moral Premise) and Deb Dixon (GMC) ever since meeting them here on Seeerville. I NEVER start a story without them!!!

    It takes some time to learn how to work with these concepts, but it is so worth it! A well thought out plot turns a story idea into a well-crafted novel :)

    I no longer need writer's rehab, but I'll be sending you a nomination!

  4. Brava, Tina!!!!! This is a mini-college course given freely with nothin' but love!


    I'm always amazed at what you pack into a teaching post. It totally rocks. And Jan Drexler, I love the Moral Premise.... the idea of it helps me envision where I want/need the story to go in simplistic fashion so I can keep that in mind as I write.

    Wonderful stuff, Tina, but it's Friday, and a holiday coming (and then I'm going to STOP EATING SO MUCH, I PROMISE!!!!) but for TODAY: Let's think last burst of summer and have fritatta for breakfast, smothered in cheese, onion, green pepper, bacon, ham and farm-fresh eggs..... AND then lemon cake, a picnic pleaser for sure!

    And I'm still in love, love, love with that cover.


  5. WOW, awesome post.

    I actually have that six stage plot structure taped to my wall. I glance at it every now and then and hope I'm doing it right. usually I pretend it's not there. THIS was a great explanation.

    The class I took with Franny Billingsley talked about how to shore up conflict (since that was a weak point for me).

    She said, "conflict must arise from the character's wound, or the conflict doesn't mean anything". I try to remember that when I start plotting. Without the wound there's no vacuum or need, which fuels the desire for the thing missing, which fuels the action within the conflict.

    And if there's no wound and desire, then the conflict has no EMOTION.

    Right back to the Hero's Journey, but coming at it from a different angle.

  6. Thanks for the giveaway of your new book, Tina! I am so anxious to read the cover!
    Now I am headed to the Café and Stitches in Time!

  7. Wow. School's in session and I didn't have to stand in a long line to register. Printing out this to save because I'm in need of serious rehab... except if I've barely begun doing this "writer thing" (hubby's words), is it really re-hab or just hab?

    stray thoughts. either way, I'm all over this because I know I desperately need the help. Admitting I've got a problem is the first step to recovery...

    thanks TINA!!!!! (see, this is why you're mentor of the year to me)

  8. Oh, my goodness, Tina! Did someone tell you I NEEDED this information, and right now? :-)
    Thank you, and a big hug around the neck!

    I'm off to order some books—after I run say 'Happy Birthday' to Stitches In Time".

  9. p.s.
    got your book and rabidly read it already. now must post a review, 'cuz I LOVE, LOVE, LOVED it.

  10. Hurrah, Jan!

    I am exactly the same way. For each book.

    Currently saving a plotless wonder from sudden death.

  11. VIRGINIA! I hate to break this to you but the whole WOUND THING??? That is pure Michael Hauge. Frannie has been to rehab.

    Hiding in identity is because of that wound, Hauge says.

  12. Fritatta. Fritatta. That makes me smile and think of Harrison Ford in Morning Glory!

    Fritattas for everyone.

    And lots and lots of gallons of coffee. In fact, make mine two gallons.

  13. Thank you, Jackie Smith, you obedient Villager you!!!

  14. Awe, thanks, DebH.

    And remember acknowledgement is the first step!

  15. Thanks Tina - I needed this post. My WIP is sitting on page 19 with no where to go. I know the end but how do I get there? I will save this post and try to graduate from Writer Rehab one of these years. Got anymore of those shirts? Burrito Bowl is fabulous!

  16. Thank you, Mary Hicks.

    Now waving my magic wand.

    Plotless wonders be gone!

  17. What a great post Tina! And YES I need rehab. I can't tell you how many WIPs I have that still don't have The End written. I need help!

    Thank you for the link to Michael Hauge's "Six Stage Plot Structure" and the link to his "The Hero's Two Journeys". I would love to be entered to win the DVD version...I really do NEED help!

    Thank you for all you all do. It truly is appreciated by those of us who lurk around in Seekerville. Know that you are all loved and appreciated!

    Have a blessed and safe labor day weekend!

    Smiles & Blessings,
    Cindy W.

  18. Yes. Cindy R. All graduates get a shirt and a nightshirt.

    That way you remember where you came from, Plotting Hell to Plotting Salvation.

  19. Cindy W. You are entered.

    Meet me in class room six for remedial.

  20. Wow, this is so what I needed. I've recently come to the conclusion that this is a huge issue with my writing, and more recently, what I believe I need to do to fix it. Thanks for the great post. I'm going to need all the help I can get in moving forward with implementing what I've been leaning and need to do.



  21. Absolutely great post, Tina! Yes, I'll admit I need rehab. I've entered some rehab centers with one of my MSes in particular, lol. This is definitely a "keeper" post. Love the links! Thank you!


    BTW dress is really casual. Bunny slippers welcome.

  23. Carrie! Great to see you!

    I know from hence you speak. My plotless babies are crying for help.

  24. WOW ... talk about "workshop in a blog," girlfriend -- you nailed it (and me!!) to the wall on this one.

    Like Ruthy said, "This is a mini-college course given freely with nothin' but love!" A definite printer-offer AND reread ... over and over again ... till it all sinks into this thick head of mine!!

    Burritos and cake?? Why does that make me hungry this early in the morning???


  25. I know. I went to bed hungry and now am starving for chicken burrito bowls and cake. Red Velvet!

  26. What???? SERIOUSLY????



    (Hush, Vince.)

    Okay, I admit it, Tina, I'm a big fan of Michael Hauge. Just not . . . plotting.

    Yes, it all makes sense to me on a subliminal level. But if I consciously try to work it out, I get a brain freeze. And it isn't pretty.

    But I love you anyway. :-D

  27. Tina, thanks for this teaching post and the links! For me, plotting an entire book is daunting. Love this succinct recap of Hauge's steps. Somehow all that talk about essence and identity turns my mind to mush, but this seems clearer, more doable. I'm printing it for later.

    Wish I were legiable for one of your generous prizes! Wow!

    Love the cover of Stranded with the Rancher! Will be looking for a copy in September. Not long to wait.

    Congrats on being a finalist for the Carol and Mentor of the Year. Will be rooting for you in St. Louis!


  28. I have no unfinished manuscripts except the new proposal I have in progress. Does that make me obnoxious?

    And I don't need to win your book because I have it.:)

    But thanks for the tips. This is the kind of information that keeps me learning.

  29. Ruthy and Tina, thanks for breakfast!


  30. What a great way to start a morning. Actually, I did nt read the whole post, but the comments! I would love to review your novel, Tina. We are on the verge of harvest here. Now hoping the rain in the forcaste is wrong. Have a great day

  31. Thanks for all the great information, Tina! It's so easy to become lost and plotless. But it's such a time waster.

    Your post is a keeper. I'm going to print it out now.

  32. This is like all seven years of Seekerville in one post.

    Uh, Tina....I think we have to quit Seekerville now.

    There is no more to learn.

  33. Hi Tina

    Besides being a good romance writer, you're a good blog writer. I have a whole file folder of your blogs.

    Plotting has never been a problem for me, just getting it out in words. And then I started re-writing an old manuscript and hit a brick wall. The ending was predictable because the plot was predictable. Yes, I need to go into rehab.

  34. I suppose it wouldn't kill me to try and think of a stinking plot for my story (besides shooting people of course)

    Sounds hard though.

    Depressed. :(

  35. LOL. Myra, we are going to have to plan an intervention.

    On the other hand, as a Maggie finalist, Carol finalist, GH winner and what was that big award you WON at the Christian Retailing show? -well, I am thinking that if it ain't broke, it don't need fixing.

  36. Oh, Janet, Stranded is on the Wal-Mart shelves now. Harlequin pays Wal-Mart dark chocolate and our books go out end of August.

  37. I still love you, Helen. I am pretty much addicted to your coffee and your books.

  38. It's on the way, Marianne. Thanks for your patience. Cheaper for Amazon to send it than me. Canada and all.

  39. LOL, thanks, Mary. I am ready to retire Seekerville. But are you??

  40. LOLOL, and thank you, Elaine.

    Off for more cake.

  41. Tina, I will be reading this multiple times!

    Please put me in the drawing for Stranded with the Rancher & the DVDs.

  42. Just what I! Great post, Tina. Please enter me for the DVD! I just got your book. #amreading! :)

  43. Donna, you are in. Hey, did your swag arrive??

  44. #amsendinguhugs Sherida.

    Thank you.

    You are in!

  45. I just want to say that I am the proud owner of Stranded with the Rancher and I encourage everyone to go pick up a copy before they're all gone.

  46. Hi Tina:

    And here I thought you were the Master Pantser!

    Now I wonder if this whole ‘rehab’ thing is really a twelve-step program for pantsers?

    Are ‘plotless wonders’ really just pantsers with a plot less than wonderful?

    There must be an answer for the poor pantser! There is just something about the SOTP/Pantser metaphor/simile* that is not philosophically sound.

    However, as long as you preach the principles of plottism, I will be the first to arrive at choir practice. In fact, I have brought my copy of “The Hero’s Two Journeys” (10 hours on 3 DVDs) to the office to view over this weekend – to be worked in between my mail driven work work.

    "To pantser is to exalt in your freedom."

    "To plot is to maximize freedom’s gifts."

    The Pantser Answer!

    Is a ‘Seat of the Pants’ pilot really ‘like’ a pantser writer? Isn’t this metaphor/simile* misleading? I believe it is.

    This means that there is hope for all pantsers! In fact, I think pantsers can apply all the principles in the plotter's arsenal and still be true to their creative nature. Myra need not plot!!!

    Here’s why: ‘seat of the pants’ piloting has nothing to do with plotting! SOTP pilots file flight plans with the FAA all the time! SOTP flying has to do with not using your flight instruments. The SOTP pilot will not use (or does not even have) an altimeter, speed indicator, stall warning device, compass, radio, artificial horizon, etc.

    A SOTP pilot has his body trained (not many females would do this. This takes the kind of husband who won't stop and ask directions when lost) to ‘hear’ the air speed by the pitch of the engine, determine the heading by both the shadows on the land below and the position of the sun, determine the altitude by the apparent size of well known objects like automobiles, and use his ears (balance) to tell when the wings are parallel to the surface of the earth. (If the wings are perpendicular to the surface of the earth, the plane can fall out of the sky. This is an event that can put you and your little heart into a spin).

    Therefore, a pantser could employ the six stage plot structure technique without having to plot at all. Thus the pantser could simply pantser along until page X1 and then insert ‘choke point #1’ (a point where there is no turning back). The writer just has to ‘pantser up’ such an event when the time comes and then pantser onward to the next ‘choke point’ (X2), at which point she can again ‘pantser up’ an instantiation of that stage’s requirement. The writer then can pantser on and on until the end.

    Such a pantsered ‘plot’ will have all the six stage plot requirements that the 'premeditated plotter' provides in her plots and, perhaps, an accomplished pantser might even produce a story that has a far greater degree of spontaneity and unpredictability!

    Of course, a pantser must at least give a little by deciding in advance the approximate page length of her book.

    To be more specific: in this example, ‘looking at the instruments’ is to the SOTP pilot as looking at a plot outline is to the pantser writer. The outline is the pantser’s instruments.

    CAVEAT FOR SOTP PILOTS: if you don’t have instruments or don’t know how to use them, then if you fly into a fog or cloud, since you are not a bird, your body will lie to you and you’ll quickly become disoriented. It is then very likely that you will put your plane into a weird and unstable configuration which will produce a spin causing you to ‘crash and burn’.


    *a simile is a type of metaphor.

  47. Great post Tina. I need to print this off and STUDY it. smile.

    Have a great day.

  48. I love Michael Hauge!

    You've captured the "essence" of his Hero's Journey technique. Smart you!

    Love, love, love the character's inner journey from identity to essence. Yes! That wounded past has to be revealed and healed before our hero or heroine can live fully in the present. So important to any story.

    Must check out my local book store for THE DOCTOR AND THE COWBOY! Love medicals! Love hunky cowboys! Love every Tina Radcliffe story! Can't wait to read.


  49. Walt, you rock. Period.

    That's all I need to say.

    The men on this blog are the world's best cheerleaders.

  50. Stranded with the Rancher, Debby. LOL.

  51. Yes, I am a rehabilitated pantser, Vince. I've watched my copy of HTJ so many times it's worn thin.

    It's a daily battle. I check in with rehab before every new book.

  52. The question is always...if you don't know your will you know when you arrive???

  53. Very interesting, especially the outline of when each part of the story should occur. I will need to go back and look at each of the links given.

  54. WOW.
    Just wow.

    Need to digest this awhile!!!!

    Excellent info. Thank you so much!!!!

  55. What great timing on this post. I've been digging into an unfinished ms that has a beginning and an end, but no middle. Now maybe I can figure out the rest.

    And I've been trying to eat healthier. No burrito bowls allowed. Beside fried pickles, Mexican food is my biggest weakness.

  56. Sandy Smith, are you a writer or a reader. I know you are a Villager. But we like to keep track of those who are writers too, so we can give them a kick in the buns when they need it. LOL.

  57. No, Connie Queen. My burrito bowl is healthy. You can omit the cheese if you want or sub in low fat mozzarella.

    Brown rice. No grease. chicken. Only good stuff.

  58. Fried pickles. Shades of Goldie's Patio Grill. YUMMY!

  59. I so need this. Must read again! Thanks Tina!

  60. Tina, what a great post! I've taken your self-editing class and learned tons. And yet, I still needed the reminders of what you wrote here.

    Thanks for sharing your wisdom yet again! :)

  61. Pam, thanks for the official nod from Mississippi.

  62. Yes. I am. Which is why I am in rehab, Sherri.

  63. Wow, what an excellent article, Tina. Thanks for sharing this with us. I've downloaded the SSPS.pdf copy. I love this site.


  64. Hi Tina,

    Thanks for your post today which helps me understand plotting. I wonder if one was to study great stories/novels, would they reflect the plot structure you outline? My thinking is there likely must be exceptions. On the other hand if the story is great, I wonder if it would likely include the conflict and resolution pattern you are describing. My concern here is that if one tries to integrate a certain plot structure, in every book, will stories not become formulated and eventually boring to both reader and writer? Is there a better way and do other plot structures exist which might help to stir up the plot pot?

    Would like to hear your thoughts on this. Thanks again.

  65. Debra! Good to see you again.

    You are welcome.

  66. Aren't stories formulaic, Mark?

    Whether you use, Moral Premise, Save the Cat, Syd Field's Story Structure, Joseph Campbell, Michael Hauge, Ronald Tobias's 20 Master Plots or Chris Vogler's the Writer's is a personal plotting choice.

    But are there any new plots out there?

    Isn't the delivery that makes it fresh and new?

  67. BTW there are tons of plotting choices out there. My personal favorite is Hauge. Thus I preach at the house of SSPS.

    Welcome to my church.

  68. Wonderful post Tina! I think the 6 Stage plot structure from MH is least what I learned from it in your self-editing class. I would love to be put in for the drawing because I need all the help I can get! :) I have read Dixon's GMC book a jillion times and love it too. Thanks for all the great tips and advice y'all give here on Seekerville.

  69. Well, thanks, LeAnne! Fellow hot weather neighbor.

  70. I'm printing this out, Tina, so I can refer back to it. Excellent post. And I'd love a giveaway!

  71. Uh, oh...Mark got me thinking.

    I will also add that I believe there are many instinctive writers out there. Mary Connealy and Ruth Logan Herne are in this category. They are born storytellers. The rest of us are learn-ed writers. We have been writing all our lives but we need and benefit from the models.

    I'm not ashamed to be in that group. Proud of it, in fact.

    As for formula..I think another word for that is reader expectation.

    There is an expectation when you see a Die Hard movie. It's an expected formula.

    The same with a romance. HEA all the way.

  72. Hi there, Leola. Good to see you my friend.

  73. Wow, Tina,
    Thanks so much for this post. Yep, I've attended multiple workshops led by Deb Dixon and multiple w/ M. Hauge. And I'm still learning.

    You ladies cut quite a pose w/ Hauge. Looks like fun.

    I'll send an email to my friends to check out this post and your help sheets.

    Thanks, again and best with your release.

  74. Of course add Myra Johnson to the pantser born storyteller side.

    Anyone else want to pick your camp?

  75. Hey, Becke,

    Good to see you.

    Debra Dixon workshops are the BEST. Usually NOT taped. She goes faster than the energizer bunny.

  76. Tina, I haven't been through my copy of the Hauge/Vogler video lately, so this was a FANTASTIC recap!! Thanks so much for sharing.

    Now diving back into my plotting! :)

  77. Virginia, thanks for posting that tidbit from Franny!

  78. My bad!

    Thanks for the correction, Tina!

    When searching the book shelves, I always look for the author's name and not the specific title.

    My Publix and Kroger didn't have it today. Shame on them. Must drive to Walmart! I'll find you there.

  79. Mark...

    Adding to Tina's reply...

    Joseph Campbell did an extensive study on legends, fables, stories, etc, down through the ages and found they all followed a format, which he wrote about in The Hero With a Thousand Faces.

    Christopher Vogler read that tomb--and it is a lengthy book--and shortened it into The Hero's Journey.

    So all story--all story that resonates--is based on what you might call a formula. That doesn't detract from the writing, it ensure man will be able to relate, learn, be inspired and find enjoyment in those stories.

    Does that make sense?

  80. Tina, it is wonderful how much you share and how clearly you share it. A natural teacher and mentor.

    All of this makes sense, and I especially like Deb Dixon's book (maybe because I know the Wizard of Oz forward, backward, and sideways). But if I write out the GMC or much of anything else before I write the story it's like I have brain freeze when I start writing.

    I am in awe of plotters ... complete awe ... yes, even awesome awe :-)

    Nancy C
    P.S. Don't enter me in the drawing

  81. Myra Johnson said...
    Yes, it all makes sense to me on a subliminal level. But if I consciously try to work it out, I get a brain freeze. And it isn't pretty.

    Hokey smokes! Myra gets brain freeze, too? I rest easy.

    Nancy C

  82. Wowee! I'm having mental overload after reading this post but it's the waaaaay good kind. :) Chock full of goodness! Thank you, Tina!!!

    Would love to be entered!

    A couple writer friends and I have been bemoaning our plot issues to one another lately. I know exactly who to nominate! ;)

  83. This comment has been removed by the author.

  84. Wow. Great stuff to mull over as I'm brainstorming the next book(s). I'm also looking forward to the ACFW Early Bird with Christopher Vogler and how to merge these plotting methods together, along with Dixon's GMC and the plotting charts/pages I've already gleaned from other plotting workshops and books. Many say the same thing in different ways so it's a matter of sifting through the intended meaning and figuring out how my characters fit into the basic framework and making sure I'm not leaving something important out!

    Thanks for your generosity as you continue to teach and encourage the rest of us.

  85. You are welcome, Missy. My often deadline buddy.

  86. LOL. Just giving you a hard time Debby. Remember it's Freebie Friday on eHarlequin.

  87. Hey, thanks double finalist Candee! Hope to see you in St. Louis. I am sure you will be awed by Mr. Vogler!

  88. There is a cure for brain freeze. But it isn't pretty.

  89. I missed your technical question DebH.

    You are correct. For some of us it is HAB and others...REHAB.

  90. Tina, I am a writer with over 100 published short stories and articles. I have not written a novel but have been slowly getting started on one. So I really enjoy reading all the tips you and the other Seekers have to offer.

  91. WONDERFUL, SANDY!!! ANOTHER SHORT STORY WRITER. High five-ing you, short story pal!!!!

  92. I'm a plotless wonder who has just found salvation.

    Thank you!

  93. Thank you, Tina, for this post. I always learn so much from your blogs.

    Plotting-it's the best of times, it's the worst of times. On the one hand, you're discovering all of these wonderful traits of your characters and you can't wait to start writing the story. But on the other hand, it's hard (& I have a grin on my face when I write that).

    I have been one of the fortunate recipients of the CD version of Michael Hauge and Christopher Vogler's The Hero's Journeys. To the lucky winner, listen to this CD! It's entertaining and so informative. I can't even begin to say how well worth your time it will be. So a huge thank you to Tina for the CD set from a previous Seekerville blog.

  94. I am arriving *late* today, but glad I stopped by....WOW, Tina---this post is GREAT (going to the front of my keeper file now).
    Thank you, thank you, thank you!!
    Hugs, Patti Jo :)

  95. Hi to Tanya Dickens Agler!!

    SOOO glad the CD was valuable to you!

    And you are SPOT ON!

  96. Patti Jo! What's cooking in your Bakery and Cafe??

  97. Thanks, Tina. I remember seeing your byline on stories in Woman's World. I hope to break into that market one of these days.

  98. Hi Tina:

    You asked,

    “The question is always...if you don't know your will you know when you arrive???”

    We’re not taking here about really flying a plane to an actual destination. We’re talking about writing a romance. And romance fans know that you’ve reached your destination when you hit upon a stand up and cheer HEA! This should be somewhere around stage #6 which should be in the vicinity of your word count limit.

    Old saying: “You don’t have to know when you’ve arrived because when you've arrived you’ll know it.”

    Of course, if you get lost in a cloud (sagging middle) then it may not even matter if you knew where you were going. : )

    BTW: I think a novel idea would be to give away little megaphone cheerleading key chains in yellow with"Seeker Cheerleader" written on them. Tina, you are so creative your every comment can inspire innovative ideas!

    Rah! Rah! Seekers!

  99. I'll take a look at the swag catalog and see what I can find, Vince.

  100. Such an incredible, helpful article!
    I would love to read your new book!

  101. A very interesting post thank you.

  102. A late comment, but I've loved this article. It's a keeper!

  103. Sorry I didn't see your comment until now, Tina...

    BUT YES, Franny gives Michael Hauge credit for that. It's just when she backed up a few steps and linked it to conflict that it much more sense to me. :)