Tag Archives: Story Engineering

Dreaming in Post-its

In one of my previous lives I was a project manager.

To make myself more marketable I took a series of classes for a PM Certification from our local University – 3 of those classes changed my life (another story) and one of them was the jumping off point for revamping my life (Thank you Toni McConnell).

So, when I thought about charting my novel though Larry’s 4 Story Parts – this is what happened…

Oh, and you can’t see anything on purpose… 🙂

The green post-its are the primary story points and the yellow are my scenes, different colors of ink (which I know you can’t see) represent scenes that are related to other sub-arcs. One is my villain’s, another is the real spider at the middle of the web, and so on…

At one point last night I had to take everything down from Part II to the end and start over – but it was worth it since I got a better feel for what I was doing and what was important. I also sat down and watched Book of Eli which has some very subtle parts of the plot structure and helped me realize that I didn’t need an explosion – just a bend in the road.

When I get home from my mid day excursion to the Museum I’ll start pulling everything together into Scrivener. My hope is by the end of Wednesday I’ll have everything I’ve written that I’m keeping into the new structure and when I wake up Thursday morning I’ll know what gaps need filling.

Ah, how grateful I am to have a plan…

Tess the Mess

Oh, and thanks to Jeff Crow for his Post-it intense Project Management method.

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Worshiping at the temple of Structure

Over the weekend I spent two full days with Story Engineering author/speaker/guru Larry Brooks. Now I didn’t swoon (which apparently disappointed him) but I did learn two things…

  1. I write awesome beginnings
  2. My middles are crap

My endings are erratic so I’m going to ignore that for the moment. But I’ve been spinning around the middle of my novel for almost a year, and now I have some tools that I truly believe will get me through the muck of it.

At least I hope so…

I won’t give away Larry’s secrets – which he gives away on his website – but I will say I spent half the night, post Day One, tearing apart my half finished novel which garnered me the first two pieces of information. Then as I tried to fall asleep – ideas about how to make almost everything I’ve written and not sold better flooded my mind until I just had to tell the damn muse to shut up because there was no way I was going to be able to learn anything Day Two if I didn’t get any sleep (besides the migraine issues).

What I was hoping this weekend would provide is grist for the planning mill… I was terrified that I was hanging too much of my future productivity on this one weekend, thank the gods I was proven wrong.

There is a plan…a structure…a skeleton from which to hang the meat of your story on.

I’m still working on what I started Saturday night – taking the novel as it now exists and divide it into the four sections of story, and vetting the currently written scenes and how they fit into the overarching concept. And what a relief to know I had a concept… so much of Day Two was spent in search of one as different writers offered up their stories or germs of stores to the group to be reviewed.

The interesting thing about that (and probably why I love Rose City Romance Writers so much) is that in the romance world there is room for all of us. No “new” writer is a threat, no established writer feels possessive of their craft, time or contacts. I was talking to a children’s writer who sat next to me and was so surprised that the weekend ended so positively. She said most Children’s events ended with a quiet sense of desperation.

I spent joyous part of last night talking through it with Jo and for the first time ever felt like I had head wrapped around the plot.

Woop!

Don’t get me wrong – this is a bullet but not magic – it is going to take a hell of a lot of work to get my novel to the structural polish suggested by Larry’s structure. But having a structure, knowing where to stick my tent pole in the ground so I can write to it, is wonderfully liberating.

On a different note, my Mac has slowed down to a crawl so my depression (followed by a bout of self-pity) has to be officially over – I only have 37.95 GB left on my Mac’s hard drive and that is not enough for another season of NCIS. And I need to delete many of the ones I have to get my writing tool back to optimum working condition.

’tis good to be back.

Ta!

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