When writers get stuck, it is usually because one or more of the three plot elements has been ignored by: • Concentrating on action only, forgetting that character provides interest and is the primary reason that people go to the movies and read books. • Organizing solely around the character and overlooking the fact that dramatic action provides the excitement every story needs. • Forgetting to develop the overall meaning or the thematic significance of their stories. When the dramatic action … [Read more...]

Do Characters Talk to You?

Hi Martha,Here's a question that I'm almost too embarrassed to ask.My SceneTracker is strong from Chapter 1 Scene 1 through Chapter 3 Scene 7. I have the big scene for Chapter 5 Scene 15.It's the empty 7 scenes between that is making me anxious and doubt myself. I could develop characters in each scene and provide their POVs but I feel like I should know the flow and what will happen next "because she did this ...." Does this happen to others? And what would be the best way to prime the muse to … [Read more...]

Plot Tip ~~ THE END

Writing scenes for The End can be more uplifting than writing scenes in The Middle. Think of the Middle as the tunnel of darkness, fraught with antagonists of all sorts. The Crisis, the high-point of the Middle, is the dark night of the soul, hitting bottom, when the protagonist becomes conscious of who she really is, or what she has been avoiding or denying. A light snaps on, and thus begins the process of transformation.In the End, the protagonist still has foes to confront and overcome. Only … [Read more...]

Flashback versus Prologue

Question:HI Martha!I've been reading all the information available on Flashback and why it may not be the recommended route to begin a novel. Then I suddenly realized, by golly, this isn't a flashback, it's a prologue! My story starts back in history to provide a backdrop for the current story. My question ... how to you plot a prologue when it's the first "scene" in your book? Is it a chapter unto itself called Prologue? Can it be scene 1 in Chapter 1?Thanks so very much!Writing in North … [Read more...]

Blog Review — Plotter versus Pantser

In a recent blog review, Plot Whisperer for Writers and Readers scored a 9 out of a possible ten. Comments: Good blog, solid advice (even if I don't agree with it all) - a useful resource for any writer.When I asked the reviewer what he didn't agree with, he replied: "I just tend to avoid plotting. For me, personally, it seems to take some of the life out of the story. I write rough, let the story appear, and then polish it out the way it asks."Plotters versus pantsers ("writing by the seat of … [Read more...]

Drowning in Meaning

One of the most fascinating aspects of being a plot coach for writers is learning about other writers' writing process. Usually, I find that writers have a preference for communicating their projects through one plotline initially over the other three plotlines --- character emotional development, dramatic action, and thematic significance.Most writers divide into one of two groups -- developing characters versus developing action. However, every so often I find a writer who approaches a story … [Read more...]