Writers up! Stir up a plot with Kate Dancey

July-September 1941, Gross

Photo Credit~Anthony Gross 1941

Hey there, neighbor!

One week from my last post and I’m now seven fat chapters into my new novel. I  rewrote it from page one all this past week and it is much better developed with lots of new characters. Best part is, I know where my characters, whether bad or good, came from and where they are going, and what will happen when they get there. I have a subplot of a love story simmering nicely, a couple of comic relief characters, some truly scary moments for the protagonist where she is pushed to the sharp point of endurance mentally and physically, and she’s made some new friends along the way.

Save the Cat method of story telling using note cards and beat-sheet style of outlining to plot before writing truly freed up my mind and allowed for much more depth of story than my original, so the couple of weeks of writing time “lost” in plotting turned out to be a terrific gain.

This is very exciting, and thus far a fruitful venture in writing, and I hope you are pounding away at your keyboard and finding success, too! Did you purchase Save the Cat, yet? I promise I gain nothing from plugging the book. In fact, it’s brilliant author, Blake Snyder, passed on from this world, but he left a legacy of writing tips to his scribbling fans. I’m so pleased to be able to point the way to his book; just following his advice of giving back. So, yeah, I have two of his books, now, and Save the Cat Strikes Back is the perfect companion book to the first. Whenever I’m stuck, I just look to my STC note cards, pay attention to the storyboard, and write to the beats. Yeah baby! The long and short of it? Plotting with note cards and storyboard  is lump free delicious gravy for your word-count. I’m adding characters more easily, dropping them in just the right place ahead of time so that I can stir up some trouble with them later, and boy is it fun disrupting my protagonists life.

Too mean, you say? No it isn’t. One of the secrets to great plotting is telling how your character goes from being, say, a clumsy, allergy ridden and isolated lab biologist who spends her spare time building allergy-free, self-sustaining miniature gardens, to an environmentalist group leader selected as part of a crucial biosphere mission to spruce up planet Mars. You really want to set a lot of obstacles in your protagonists way, physically and mentally or spiritually if your character is going to experience growth. Just like I had to go back, regroup and stop writing the manuscript for a while to learn about plotting with a storyboard before continuing on. It was hard, but I did it (hey, even an writer can arc) and you can, too! The more hardships you shovel onto your protagonist, the more awful your antagonist, the more crap you pile on all of them equals a better story. The plot is carried forward with the arc of the character, and you as an author benefit from knowing exactly where each growth-spurt will occur. All from a little restructuring.

Now, if you aren’t sure about note card outlining, ala Save the Cat, here’s a great site from Rune Lords author David Farland‘s Author Advisory Conference Calls where a variety of authors speak about methods they use to achieve writing success. In this particular clip,  New York Times bestselling author Aprilynne Pike discusses her number line method to keep the story purring along, and your plot on track. Mr. Farland tirelessly devotes time to teaching aspiring authors how to launch themselves into the happy business of becoming first time novelists, as do the successful authors who lend their time to his programs.

David Farland’s Authors Advisory Conference Calls

Learn about how the pro’s do it, apply the methods to your own writing, and enjoy the experience of seeing your word count and character arc rise to new heights!

I’m at 25K words now. Not too shabby.

Cheers and Happy Writing!

Kate Dancey

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7 thoughts on “Writers up! Stir up a plot with Kate Dancey

  1. 25k words is pretty damn terrific. Keep it up ❤

  2. Glad you enjoyed my post.

  3. Congrats on your word count and thanks for the blog love:) I had the chance to hear Blake Snyder speak at a writer’s conference in San Francisco the year he passed away. He was brilliant, funny, sweet all rolled into one talented package. Needless to say, I love Save The Cat! I’ll check out the other links you list here too. Great post!

    • Oh wow, thanks for stopping in Kate! What a blessing to have someone who has heard Blake Snyder speak in person visit here! Folks say he came across just as fun and nice in person as in his books, and I think that is why his guidance has such appeal. Have you tried using Save the Cat in conjunction with Save the Cat Strikes Back? Perfect duo and lots more explanation and technique for writers to savor and try!

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