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Good Heroes Need Good Villains #authortoolboxbloghop #amwriting

Author Toolbox Blog Hop

The Author Toolbox Blog Hop is “a monthly blog hop on the theme of resources/learning for authors: posts related to the craft of writing, editing, querying, marketing, publishing, blogging tips for authors, reviews of author-related products, anything that an author would find helpful.” Want to jump into the writing tool box? Search #AuthorToolboxBlogHop or to join via blog, click here.

Thank you Raimey!

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At a writer’s conference a few years back, I sat with a literary agent and pitched my story. She mentioned my villain struck her attention the most. My villain had a goal equal in weight to my Lead. Then she mentioned lots and lots of writers forget to focus on the goal and the arc of the villain.

So today, I’m using some thoughts from The Marshall Plan Workbook. I’m focusing on the craft of the Opposition, a word Marshall uses in lieu of the Villain, and the importance of strength and equality for both the Lead and the Opposition. I’m also thinking of Khan as an example of interesting Opposition.

Four Basic Points From Marshall’s Plan to Consider

The Opposition As A Person

Marshall states, “Nothing stirs readers like person-against person conflict.” (Page 77)

I pondered all the books and movies I’ve liked the most. Avengers, The Archived, Panic, and The Coldest Girl in Coldtown. Some of my favorites involve magical possibility. All of them involve human faces. Sure, some phenomenal stories have been written with natural disasters and animals leading the opposition, but largely I do agree with Marshall. I think human opposition does “come across most effectively.”

And Khan. Is he human? Or he is he a divine being without weakness?

Wikipedia states Khan is, “a genetically engineered superhuman.” Now I’ve never seen the first appearance of Khan with the early Star Trek movie. But I do like the new version of Khan. I like seeing a human figure as the shell to all his power.

Opposition And Lead Must Be Equal

This point made me think again. True, the reader wants a good fight. True, the writer needs enough action and reaction scenes to develop an effective plot. Marshal states, ”an opposition who’s an equal match for your lead is believable to readers.” If one or the other is so far advanced, why doesn’t the story just end? A fair point. A last fair point, “Think first of your lead’s special skills and talents that will help her achieve the story goal, then bestow your opposition with a large enough share of the same talents that your lead will be given a real run her money—a run that will keep readers turning the page.”

And Khan? I had a hard time justifying if Khan was indeed equal to the Lead, Captain Kirk. Khan seemed to win at manipulation with high stake issues. Kirk seemed to win with his crew and loyalty. He surrounded himself with talented people with different talents than the ones he seemed to have. Khan didn’t seem to need anyone, with a gift of regenerative blood. He seemed super strong. He seemed to evaluate weakness better than most. So it’s still a toss up to me.

Opposition isn’t Always Evil, Just Opposite

Marshall states, “The reason the ideal opposition is someone already known to the lead is that this is usually how life really works.” When I think back on all my own goals, it’s true. And Khan? I guess his existence was known previously to the start of the movie. Spock certainly knew him. His awakening was fast and public.

An Invisible Opposition Exists

Murder mystery genres face invisible Opposition. The lead does not know the opposition. The Lead is terrorized by an invisible opponent. The whole plot strives to uncover the opposition and solve a case.

A last important Marshall Question to consider:

Why would this character oppose my lead?

For more information on the Marshall Plan Workbook, here’s an amazon link to purchase the book. You’ll love the resource. I certainly do.

Any other Opposition thoughts? Any thoughts on Khan and Kirk? I’d love to hear them 🙂

Don’t Wish For Five More Minutes. Live. #IWSG #amwriting

[I wrote this post as a member of the Insecure Writer’s Support Group where we share our worries and also offer support and encouragement to each other on the first Wednesday of every month. If you’re a writer like me and you’re looking for a bit of support, you can click the link and sign up here]

This month’s awesome Co-Hosts:  Dolorah @ Book Lover, Christopher D. Votey, Tanya Miranda, andChemist Ken!

Check out our IWSG homepage.  And as always, thank you to founder Alex J. Cavaugh 🙂

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How many times have you thought to yourself, if I only had thirty more minutes, ten, even five I could do amazing things.

Then I saw a great quote yesterday. It shifted my thoughts to this statement:

Because I didn’t have one more minute, I actually accomplished xyz. Things like folding all the laundry, or getting to work on time, or reading a story with my child I didn’t think I had time to do. So maybe the moment wasn’t about writing, but the moment was about life. Life is what happens in writing, when we have the moment to write.

This month’s IWSG question asks, “How do major life events affect your writing? Has writing ever helped you through something?”

Life will always compete with my writing goals. I juggle multiple roles and am still learning the writing craft. I squeeze writing into the small moments. Reading too. It’s all I can do, but I do in fact make at least 5 minutes of my time about my passion. And yes, writing has been a fantastic escape when life seems too heavy. When the real job gets to be too much. When a moment in time seems so helpless, I can in fact control the world in my head, my characters, and their fates rest in my contrived thoughts.

So maybe you don’t have another five minutes. That’s okay. You’ll find them. Maybe the next day you’ll find twenty minutes. In any case, here are a couple of last thoughts ….

 

You don’t quit after you get beat. You pick yourself up, and you start rebuilding to accomplish your goals.

~Daniel Cormier

 

It’s our challenges and obstacles that give us layers of depth and make us interesting. Are they fun when they happen? No. But they are what make us unique. And that’s what I know for sure… I think.

~Ellen DeGeneres

 

Everyone who achieves success in a great venture, solves each problem as they came to it. They helped themselves. And they were helped through powers known and unknown to them at the time they set out on their voyage. They keep going regardless of the obstacles they met. W. Clement Stone

It’s All In The Revisions #AuthorToolboxBlogHop #writetip

Author Toolbox Blog Hop

The Author Toolbox Blog Hop is “a monthly blog hop on the theme of resources/learning for authors: posts related to the craft of writing, editing, querying, marketing, publishing, blogging tips for authors, reviews of author-related products, anything that an author would find helpful.” Want to jump into the writing tool box? Search #AuthorToolboxBlogHop or to join via blog, click here.

Thank you Raimey!

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This month, I’m reporting top tips to begin a second draft of a work in progress. I’ve learned the best advice is to settle my impatience and let the first draft sit to clear the canvas in my mind. My own first draft was completed back in March.  A reasonable amount of time has passed and I’ve since moved on to other projects.

So now that I’m ready to make revisions, I admit, I didn’t know where to start and I’m sharing tips from a great author, Marissa Meyer. She reflected over her process in draft two of Cressa. Please visit her post as she provides lovely details of her process.

Here goes her tips and a few simple reflections:

  1. Print out your first draft.
    Make notes of plot holes, questions, characters who may have been left out for lengthy chapters and need to be added back to remind the reader they exist. Ask yourself, how can I make life worse? What challenges can I throw into these scenes to add tension or correct realism in dialogue? How can I be mean to my characters I may have delicately danced over in the first draft?
  2. Import Draft One into Scrivener. Meyer used word to write her first draft. To begin her second draft, she imported everything into Scrivener. Have you tried it yet? I love it to pieces. Then use the synopsis note card and write two to three sentences to summarize each chapter.
  3. Plan the revisions from your notes.
    Start with the big holes or changes you would like to see. Review the changes you note are not working and plot new scenes, brainstorm character changes, and ways to fix the holes. For me, I have a character who drops off the planet half way through the book, for good reasons, but not the right emotional reasons. Fixing her location will most definitely create new details and new scenes. Fixing her location and creating new scenes will further enhance one of the major themes in my story and was dropped in the first draft. I don’t want it dropped.
  4. Revisit the plot structure. 
    Add the new scenes and revise old ones. Scrivener has a terrific cork board to drag and drop scenes. I love being able to move things around. I love Scrivener’s character and location templates. I may do some more research on specific locations I’ve picked in the book and add them to my notes.
  5. Focus on the subplots.
    Marissa Meyer mentions the first draft is about the larger plot. She takes more time in the second draft to flush out the details in subplots. For instance, backgrounds and histories and why characters do what they do. The subplots lead to deeper themes and plots readers crave. Once I rewrite the location of one of my characters, I’ll have satisfied some deeper emotional subplots of sisters and strengths and weaknesses in families and how together we create balance and solve problems we can’t always do alone.

So this is my plan. I’m starting this week. Wish me luck in the next few months and if you have any other tips on second draft revisions and organization, I’d love to hear it.

Never begin at the beginning #IWSG #amwriting

[I wrote this post as a member of the Insecure Writer’s Support Group where we share our worries and also offer support and encouragement to each other on the first Wednesday of every month. If you’re a writer like me and you’re looking for a bit of support, you can click the link and sign up here]

This month’s awesome Co-Hosts:  Toi Thomas, T. Powell Coltrin, M.J. Fifield, and Tara Tyler!

Check out our IWSG homepage. Find out the news on the theme of the next anthology. I’m terribly excited! And as always, thank you to founder Alex J. Cavaugh 🙂

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Beginnings are always messy for me. I think one thing. It plays out an entirely different plan then I wanted. Don’t you hate it when you want a scene so bad but it just isn’t the right place to start?

Do you make it right? Can you? How do you make a scene right when it feels sort of wrong?

I wish I knew. I’m so insecure this month. I have a myriad of scenes written for this story and it was really fun to create the pieces before the puzzle snapped together. What I struggled with so desperately were the edges of the puzzle. The very beginning if you must, and I wanted this darn gray cat to fit. 🙂

In any case, I’m offering tips today on what I found seemed to help me fit the puzzle together.

Here goes all. Four tips to get into the right first scene.

  1. Time and place.

My father taught me this one. He always loved books that began with a quick reference and dropped the reader right into the world.  Draw the picture. Then add the conflict.

  1. Emotional Appeal.

This piece has always been my favorite when I watch movies. If I don’t connect in the first scene with someone, and even in the first five minutes, I turn it off. I leave the room. I have to investment in a character and feel something for he or she.

  1.  Goal.

Share the character goal or what they aren’t able to obtain. Give a snapshot of the character and why they want what they want so bad.

  1. Theme.

Whatever your genre is or the message you want to say, make the opener count. I even read once to let the beginning reflect the way the ending plays out too. This time, I did write the ending first, so that helped me tremendously.

What works for you? Do you ever write the opening scene out in different ways? That’s what happened to me. Then whichever one ignited my writing fury, I went there. I picked that one.

A great resource to check out for additional tips on first scenes.

I did digress from the question this month. I think I’m still trying to find my way as far as publishing is concerned and I hope one day, I’ll figure it all out 😉