I've not found a spare moment to blog as I've been delighted to be hosting a visit from a favourite blogger friend and editor, Nas Dean and her lovely husband Rajesh, from Fiji. This of course entails much driving around, showing them our paradise.
Meanwhile, Nas' main reason to visit was to attend the Australian Romance Readers convention, an international event, which is being held in a hotel about 3 minutes from my Brisbane apartment. This convention brings together romance readers, authors and publishers and provides opportunities to talk about all things related to romance fiction. This year will feature heavy hitting award-winning authors Kristan Higgins, Anne Gracie and Rachel Vincent as keynote speakers.
Yesterday, I attended a Pain-free Plotting (even for Pantsers) workshop by Paula Roe with Nas and my writing group friends, Charmaine Clancy and Jillanne Harrison. Awesome time at the Carindale Library -- and it was FREE!
|Nas, Myself, Charmaine, Jillanne busily plotting|
|Paula Roe and Nas|
Paula used the Hero's Journey as the basis of her Pain-free Plotting workshop. Note our colourful sticky notes above. Most of us are familiar with the Hero's Journey pattern of narrative which originates (as far as I know) from Joseph Campbel's The Hero With a Thousand Faces in 1949.
Most, if not all stories, follow this structure (even Harlequin romances!) up to a point. Paula is a visual teacher, and the way she had us plotting our hero's journey using different coloured Post-it notes for Act 1, Act 11 and Act 111 of our story made it just that little clearer. Those around me all decided we had the elements covered -- up to a point.
As Paula said, even if you're a pantser and rush headlong into your story after getting that fabulous story idea, the Hero's Journey checklist is a very useful tool to use when editing that first draft.
For anyone who may not know the Hero's Journey steps, or who didn't click on the link above, they are below. I found it useful to think of a favourite story as we did this exercise--The Hunger Games is a good example that most of us probably know. I can easily visualise these steps...modernised with some Roe-isms and Covey-isms.
ACT 1: (The Setup) Pose a Plot Question.
1. The ORDINARY WORLD of the hero--establishes the characters in their everyday lives--this may take pages, or just be a simple sentence. Can also be told using backstory, but don't clutter the beginning of your story with too much backstory.
2. The CALL TO ADVENTURE--showing an extra-ordinary character in an ordinary world, with the potential to embark on a quest.
3. The DENIAL of the call--a crisis point. Here you establish their external goal. Usually transplanted into another world.
4. ...followed by ACCEPTANCE--character fully focused on his/her external goal...then your hero walks through the door...into ACT 11...
ACT 11: (Where the story unfolds)
All about tests--failing them, learning, failing some more...finally passing them.
5. Hero enters the NEW WORLD/LEARNS THE RULES,
6. ...then ALLIES/ENEMIES are revealed,
7. ...followed by FAILING TRIALS,
8. ...then the hero reaches the POINT OF NO RETURN. He/she wants to go back to his/her ORDINARY WORLD, but cannot.
This is the Midpoint of your novel. If your midpoint is saggy, problematic, as Paula said, your hero may not have come up against enough obstacles, or his goal may need to be revisited.
9. There's no going back, so the hero is now FAILING,
then finally PASSING TRIALS. This reveals your hero's resilience, yet he/she is not perfect.
10. Then we have TIME OUT/HERO'S MASK IS REVEALED--to him/her self. This is usually portrayed through Internal Dialogue, but not always.
11. GUT PUNCH TIME! OMG! The reader asks--is that really going to happen? It is not totally a Black Moment, but it seems like it. How will the hero act under pressure?
12. NOOOOOOOOOO! At the beginning of your story, you asked a question...now the reader wonders if this is the answer! But of course it isn't!
The reader is left hungry for more...can't put your book down at this stage. So...the stage is all set for ACT 111.
ACT 111: (Climax/Resolution) It's a wrap! You must answer the original plot question asked at the beginning of your story.
13. THE ROAD BACK -- I wanna go home, cries the hero! He/she tries to leave, to go back to their ORDINARY WORLD.
14. TIME OUT -- again. Revelation. Decision time. The 'Ah-ha!' moment.(Internal dialogue...thinking...lull in action.)
15. PLOT CLIMAX/FINAL LESSON -- the gut-wrenching personal Black Moment for the hero. Boo hoo!
16. RESOLUTION -- Wrap up. Everyone's happy (at least in a romance). The hero returns. Others are affected by the changes in the hero.
Paula recommended Michael Hague for some excellent articles regarding plotting. He is a very successful Hollywood screenwriter.
Of course I learnt a lot more at Paula's workshop, but I'm sure you're worn out by now! Do visit Paula's website. She has some yummy stuff for writers.
RomanticFridayWriters are Driven to Murder in March. We want 1,000 words of prose or poetry on murder most foul. Go to the RFW Challenge Page for more details. Sign up soon! You'll see the linky here or on the RFW website.