Tag Archives: plotting

Pacing Yourself: The Strange and Sprawling Art of Writing a Long Series

Writing a series can be a long, strange journey. How do you best prepare for it, and where do you stop to refuel? And how do you do know when to keep going and when to bring things to an … Continue reading

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On Writing: Chekhov’s Gun Store

One of playwright Anton Chekhov’s most quoted maxims is this: If in Act I you have a pistol hanging on the wall, then it must fire in the last act. If you establish an expectation in the reader, particularly a … Continue reading

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Class Excerpt: On Creating a Story When You Have the Plot

I’m finishing up the year by trying to wrap up writing the on-demand version of my Moving from Idea to Draft class. This is a tough translation, because the live class depends heavily on what the students have brought: I try to help them go deeper into the idea each has brought to class and show them ways of fleshing it out.

For the on-demand class, what I’m doing is looking at each of the various ways I’ve seen stories develop and doing a section on each, looking at what it is, what it gives you to help with fleshing out the story, possible trouble spots, some ways to proceed with it, and then two or three exercises to refine skills with that, each with a basic and then an overachiever version, a model I used with the Description and Delivering Information class. There’s twenty-three sections altogether, but here’s the section on starting with a plot, minus the exercises.
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Retreat, Day 8 (Stuff about Plotting Novels)

Yesterday I got very little writing done, and instead worked on plotting. Ugh. I’ve reached that stage of the manuscript where I feel like I’m herding cats, and it seemed like time to make things make more sense. Major Ingredients … Continue reading

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Plotting and Re-Plotting Stories

Here’s another example of using a Stumbleupon-discovered post to spur a rewrite.The story I just finished, whose working title is “Villa Encantada,” is one whose beginning I wrote over a year ago. I picked it up last summer and added a couple of scenes, but something about it has felt wrong and it’s been just lumpy scenes stuffed full of description of a balcony garden. I was pretty sure it didn’t begin where it was supposed to, and also pretty sure that the best thing to do would be to start it again from scratch, write it, then mine the previous efforts to see what should get folded into it. Continue reading

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