Saturday, 23 June 2012

Stepping Stones

Goal - Motivation - Conflict...I am sure all of those are 'perfectly clear' in my writing...

Hmmm, perhaps not, after talking to fellow RWA'r Marlene yesterday, prior to our latest writing sprint. I know what my Hero's issues are (his need of a bride), and I know what his motivation is (keep the family happy), and naturally the conflict is obvious (he doesn't particularly want a wife) - clear, no? Well I thought it was until I started reassessing what I had already written, and nowhere in the early chapters is any of this mentioned, nor is it even eluded to. 
How on earth will I get Valerie Gray at MIRA Books (Harlequin) to take my pulitzer-prize-contender and turn it into a bestseller if my Hero refuses to give up his thoughts? Is it my fault he is tight-lipped about things? Apparently it is, so this weekend's goal is to go back and see if I can't add in a scene or two to help my readers understand the inner workings of  'said'  Hero's mind.

Speaking of SCENE's, last week at our RWA-GVC Meeting, we had Mary Buckham come in to present her "Break Into Fiction" workshop and engage us in, power openings, hooks and scene survival. What I really found interesting was the breakdown of a scene. As a new writer, I have all the ignorance of being a novice on my side - I am like a twenty-year-old in the writing world. Up until now, I thought it was a fairly easy process when writing a book:

STEP ONE: Think of a story
STEP TWO: Pull in a few character and give them a problem or two to overcome
STEP THREE: Throw in a happy ending with a bunch of filler in-between

Ah yes, I can see Ms. Gray now as she peruses my masterpiece and then chucks it into the bin in the bottom right hand corner of her desktop, and follows up by blocking my e-mail address.

Valerie, I have learned a few things that will help you finally love my writing:

A SCENE (this has three parts)
     Disaster or Complication

This is followed up by:

A SEQUEL (this too has three parts but is shorter than a scene)

By clarifying motivation for my character, I thus clarify it for my reader.

All books have more than one scene, all scene's must have sequels.

Brilliant! had I missed something so basic yet so brilliant? When broken down like this, I know it seems fairly easy, but it has since taken me a week to figure out how to do this smoothly as I am not a planner, I am a pantser. A scene, which is longer than a sequel, needs to set up my story. The sequel is the outcome of the scene. I think its clear, but just in case I forget again as I am sidetracked by my Heroine's frustration with her Hero, I picked up "Scene & Structure" by Jack Bickham as recommended by Mary Buckham.
(hmmm, interesting how those two are separated by only a vowel)

Mary opened up and closed our workshop last week by telling all of us that as writers, we need to develop the craft of writing no matter where we are in our careers. And as I looked around me at my fellow RWA-GVCr's, many of them were nodding in agreement. 

Writing is no different than learning to play an instrument, learning a new sport, or learning to paint - practise, practise, practise. Like anything else worth doing, the smart person realises that no matter how good you are, there is always room for improvement....and I am a wide open space.

PAINTING  Courtesy  of  Ms. Cynthia Gyuk


  1. Thanks Maggie for posting my first ever painting - I am flattered!

    So you are have some struggle with the hero's mindset of making the family happy yet...hmmm we should talk...LOL.

    Seriously though dig deep my friend, I know you can.

    Best wishes,

    1. It's all about stepping stones that get you to where you want to life and in writing.
      Thanks for the words of encouragement - you are my first official follower.