In-Between & Moving Forward in the Writerly Life

So I finished my last WIP (work in progress). It’s out on submission searching for the perfect agent. đŸ™‚ Now, it’s time for me to forward and begin a new manuscript.

I both love starting a new project and dread it. I love the idea of tackling something fresh. But at the same time, when world building, I need a few days to let the new story germinate in my mind enough to start typing. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not a plotter.

But I need the following things before I begin to write a story:

1. The hero defined. It can be a loose definition but I need to know his goals, motivations, and his internal and external conflicts.

2. The heroine defined the same way.

3. A thread of the basic plot line.

4. A scene that simply won’t leave me alone. Often, this scene is no where near the beginning of the book. It’s usually about half-way through.

and finally…

5. Some idea of how the story will end.

From there, I start  building my world. It used to take me longer to find my five key elements but not anymore. Since I joined RWA, I’ve taken workshops that have helped me get to the soul of my characters and their stories faster.

One of the best workshops I’ve ever attended was Michael Hague’s Six Stage Plot Structure. One sheet of paper allows me to quickly jot down notes about key turning points and the six stages of my story. Fabulous! đŸ™‚

What do you do to prepare yourself for your next story? Is there a workshop or craft book that turned your love of writing into a writerly life?

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2 Responses to In-Between & Moving Forward in the Writerly Life

  1. Maura Troy says:

    Great post, Mary. I’m still searching for my “perfect” way to start/write my stories. The last novel got started from a writing prompt. I wrote this little scene about a woman alone in a hotel room and hiding from ……something. I didn’t know who/what but spent the next several days playing the “what if?” game and came up with a story I really liked, even though I wound up having to delete the original scene that kick started the whole thing. My current wip started out similarly, but for some reason wasn’t flowing as well. I’ve had to start the “what if?” process all over again. It’s like a puzzle I have to solve. But solve it, I will!

    I haven’t been to any of Michael Hague’s workshops, but I have heard nothing but good things about them. And I saw one of his DVDs on pitching and found it to be very informative and helpful. There are so many craft books that inspire me it would take me forever to list them all. Writing the Breakout Novel by Donald Maas and Saving the Cat by Blake Snyder are definite favorites. And I quite recently read Debra Dixon’s Goal Motivation and Conflict and it certainly lived up to its great reputation. It is really helping me to figure out the flaws in my current wip.

    • Mary says:

      Hi Maura,

      Thanks for stopping by! I’m so glad to hear your new WIP is working for you. Isn’t it amazing how one scene can lead to a story?

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