How to Write Like a Professional

How to Write Like a Professional
6 Surprising Mistakes That Make Writers Look Like Amateurs... and How to Avoid Them

Friday, October 19, 2018

READ-4-LUCK: Porcupine's Pie

By Laura Renauld


READ-4-LUCK includes a book recommendation, book review, teaching tip, and writing lesson for children, parents, teachers, and writers.

  1 Clover: Not bad. Might read twice.

  2 Clovers: Fun read first few times. Would get from library again.

  3 Clovers: Very enjoyable. Wouldn't mind owning a copy.

  4 Clovers: Multiple readings please! May just have to buy it.


Summary of Porcupine's Pie


Author: Laura Renauld
Illustrator: Jennie Poh
Publisher: Beaming Books
Year: 2018
Word Count: About 428
Age: 4-8
Topic: fall, pie, forest animals
Theme: friendship, gratitude, teamwork, sharing
Resources: See the Teachers Section Below
Summary:

Porcupine can't wait to share Fall Feast with her woodland friends, so when everyone she greets is unable to bake their specialty due to a missing ingredient, Porcupine generously offers staples from her pantry. When Porcupine discovers that she, too, is missing a key ingredient, the friends all work together to create a new Fall Feast tradition.

Children




Children will likely want this read to them again and again. After the first reading, they will delight in looking at the illustrations to discover all the times Porcupine dropped his cranberries.

Parents




Parents of 4-8 year olds may want to buy a copy for a fun Thanksgiving time activity. There's even a recipe in the back for Friendship Pie!

Teachers




Teachers could use Porcupine's Pie to introduce a unit on fall, friendship, teamwork, sharing, or Thanksgiving. There are plenty of patterns with words and repetition. It would be fun to teach a math lesson or a language lesson with this book. And bake a pie together as a class.

Writers




There is plenty to study in this book, as a picture book writer. Plot arc, patterns, and language make Porcupine's Pie a great mentor text.

Got a book you'd like to recommend? Or one you want me to review? Share in the comments!

You might also like: Preschool, Passion, and Prickly Porcupines, an Interview with Picture Book Author, Laura Renauld



How to Analyze a Picture Book with a Story Board






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Tuesday, October 16, 2018

Outline Your Story in Less than a Month


Plot Like A Novelist


Many writers struggle with plotting their novels, books, and stories. If ever there was a writer who never struggled with plotting a story, I want to meet them! Plotting your novel doesn't have to be difficult, but it still takes effort.

There are some pretty big struggles with outlining a novel or plotting a story.

If you’re new to writing and have never outlined before, you might find that when you write by the seat of your pants, you run out of steam before you figure out where to take your story next.

If you’re finally catching on to plotting, but you wish there were something simpler than trying to figure out all the pressure points, pinch points, push points, plot points, and turning points, you’re in luck because the PLOT LIKE A NOVELIST is waaaaay easier!

If you've written a complete novel just to find out that it HAS NO PLOT and now you have to start all over and you don’t know where to begin, then I have a map that will ensure you have a plot that contains proper cause-and-effect events.

Today, I offer you a solution to help you map out your story in less than a month. Two weeks, actually. Think of it as a 15-day boot camp for novel writers.

For $47, you'll get a new lesson delivered straight to your inbox for 15 days. This is the PERFECT PREP COURSE for NaNoWriMo!

And since it's my beta course, I haven't already created every single lesson. Just being transparent about that. In fact, I'll be creating each lesson as we progress together.


With three modules (The Beginning, The Middle, and The End), you’ll learn all the necessary pieces to create a functional plot for your story. The eleven parts of a basic story arc will keep you on the right track, but still allow plenty of room for your imagination to roam.

MODULE 1: THE BEGINNING


Lesson 1.1: Four Fundamentals of Story
Lesson 1.2: Five Main Plot Points
Lesson 1.3: Pre-Race Life
Lesson 1.4: The Signup
Lesson 1.5: Second Thoughts

With the Marathon Method of Plotting, your framework is taken care of for you. The pacing falls into place and the characters’ goals, wants, and needs are woven into the actions of the story.

MODULE 2: THE MIDDLE


Lesson 2.1: The Gunshot
Lesson 2.2: Pit Stops
Lesson 2.3: The Halfway Point
Lesson 2.4: Runner’s High
Lesson 2.5: The Wall

We’ll even discuss the things most courses completely forget about. Things like fear of not being good enough, feeling overwhelmed, how to stay motivated, being confident in your work, structuring a work schedule, procrastination, and rejection.

MODULE 3: THE END


Lesson 3.1: Final Sprint
Lesson 3.2: The Finish Line
Lesson 3.3: After Party
Lesson 3.4: Writing Your Novel Synopsis
Lesson 3.5: Sticking to a Schedule

I'm launching a brand new beta course via email. It's the easiest (and cheapest) type of online course out there. I'm looking for a few eager souls to help me out by testing the material and providing feedback to help me make this the most efficient and easiest to understand course on how to plot a novel.



Map Out Your Novel in Less Than a Month





We'll go through LOTS of examples to see how plot works in real stories. It's not a bunch of fluffy philosophies.

If you're ready to take the leap and join the course, I opened enrollment on October 17th. You should begin receiving your first email lesson within 48 hours, even if it's the weekend.


For those who sign up after October 19th, I'll release any remaining lessons you haven't received by November 2nd on that same day... so you can get instant access to the rest of them. The final lesson goes out on November 2nd, so when that date rolls around, if you still have 5 lessons left to receive, you'll get them all on the very next day.

Prepare yourself to write your novel by taking a couple weeks to get your story straight from the very beginning. Go at your own pace and re-read any lesson (via email) as often as you want. Or save up all the lessons until you have them all and then you can plow through the material in record time and then quickly switch gears to WRITING your novel.

The best results happen when you work consistently and incrementally through the lessons. What are you waiting for? Get started today!

Click here to sign up for the beta launch of my all-new email course, PLOT LIKE A NOVELIST, for only $47.

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Monday, October 15, 2018

Preschool, Passion, and Prickly Porcupines with Laura Renauld

An Interview with Picture Book Author, Laura Renauld


I recently had the opportunity to interview Laura Renauld about her debut picture book, Porcupine's Pie! Here's your High Five, Laura!

Title: Porcupine's Pie
Author: Laura Renauld
Illustrator: Jennie Poh
Publisher: Beaming Books
Publication Date: October 2018
Word count: About 428
Short summary:

Porcupine can't wait to share Fall Feast with her woodland friends, so when everyone she greets is unable to bake their specialty due to a missing ingredient, Porcupine generously offers staples from her pantry. When Porcupine discovers that she, too, is missing a key ingredient, the friends all work together to create a new Fall Feast tradition.


An Author's Favorite Picture Books


What are three of your favorite picture books? Just three mind you.

You must know this is a nearly impossible question to answer! These are the three that popped into my head just now. (My favorites are subject to change at any time )
  1. Lyrical, tugs at the heart-strings, and always makes me cry:
    All the Places to Love by Patricia MacLachlan and Mike Wimmer
  2. New 2018 release filled with quirky wit that made me laugh out loud:
    Potato Pants! by Laurie Keller
  3. Expert mentor text for language-precision, tension-building, and focusing on a small moment:
    Come On, Rain! by Karen Hesse and Jon J. Muth

What It's Like Writing For Children


What is your biggest challenge in parenting? Do you read picture books to your own children?

Sometimes the biggest challenge is slowing down enough to enjoy the company of my children. Making dinner, homework, music lessons, and play dates all take time. I relish story time at the end of the day. Right now, I am reading aloud the fourth book in the Harry Potter series, but we still share picture books together. There is something magical about an illustrated story and the snuggle-time that ensues during the sharing of it.

Teaching with Picture Books in the Classroom


How might teachers use your book in the classroom?

Porcupine’s Pie takes place in the fall and centers around the themes of friendship and generosity. It would make a good read-aloud for community building when the school year begins and for Thanksgiving since the characters are preparing for Fall Feast Day. There is also a recipe for Friendship Pie at the end. Using that in a fractions unit would be fun!

All Roads Lead to Publication


What was your road to publication like?

It’s been twelve years since I started dabbling in kidlit, seven years since I joined SCBWI, four years since I wrote my first draft of Porcupine’s Pie, two years since I won the Beaming Books Picture Book Writing Contest and learned it would be published, and one week since Porcupine’s Pie released. It been a long journey, but one filled with learning, joy, new friends, and now, a book to share with kids! And that’s what it’s all about.

Writing Tips From a Published Author


What are your top three writing tips you can offer to writers seeking publication?
  1. Writing is (usually) a solo activity, but your life as a writer doesn’t have to be. Seek out your tribe by joining SCBWI, find a critique group, participate in online conversations about kidlit, and have coffee regularly with a writing friend who can share your ups and downs.
  2. Read. A lot. Take advantage of your library’s hold service and request books that have been newly acquired. Use their suggestion service to recommend books that you want to read. Dig deeper and study the format: what works, what doesn’t. Steep yourself in recently published books and you will begin to internalize the genre you are writing.
  3. If you are passionate about writing, make it a priority. That will look different for each person, but for me, when I started taking writing for children seriously, that meant using 45 minutes – 1 hour of my kids’ 3-hour preschool class for writing. Laundry, groceries, etc. could wait. It wasn’t a ton of time, but the consistency paid off. My craft improved and I felt like a serious writer because I made time for something that was important to me.

Bio:
LAURA RENAULD is a former third grade teacher who now spends her days imagining and creating. When she is not writing picture books about porcupines, pirates, and pickles, Laura can be found on a trail, at the library, or in the kitchen. She lives in Northern Virginia with her husband and their two story-telling sons. Porcupine’s Pie is her debut picture book. Look for her forthcoming picture book biography Fred’s Big Feelings: The Life and Legacy of Mister Rogers in Fall 2019. Find out more at www.laurarenauld.com, where you can also subscribe to her newsletter and blog.

Please join me in congratulating Laura Renauld on her debut book! Share your HIGH FIVE in the comments below!



How to Analyze a Picture Book with a Story Board




Read more Picture Book Author Interviews and give them a big virtual high five!

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Monday, October 8, 2018

A Character with No Goal is as Boring as Dry Toast


So Give Your Character a Goal (and a little bit of jelly).


We've been talking a little bit about character lately. And why not? I mean, it IS one of the four fundamentals of story. So we better know how to create a great character, right? Sometimes, that's easier said than done, though. Today, we're diving into HOW to do this.

With a couple of examples to help you, this post may be a bit longer than usual. But stick with me because it's going to really help. We're going to work backward, and then (with a completely different storyline) move forward again.

When writing a novel, your character needs to have a goal. || how to choose a story goal that your character agrees with | christiewrightwild.com

Shrek in Reverse


Okay, so let's take another look at Shrek and work backward as writer. Let's say the writer wanted to give an ogre a happy ending, a marriage to a beautiful princess. This was even hinted at in the very beginning. Shrek was using the outhouse and reading his fairytale "magazine" (as men are oft wont to do) and read the classic storybook ending. Then he laughed out loud and said, "Yeah, right, like that's ever gonna happen."

So, if the author (yes, even if it's a team of Hollywood screenwriters) wants that to be the ending, then what obstacles can get in the way? Let's say that we're able to get an ugly, stinky ogre to meet and fall in love with a beautiful princess. But we can't just let them get married even if they had to travel 100 miles to rescue her and fight a fire-breathing dragon. It's still too easy.

There has to be a low point, hence The Wall. In Shrek, The Wall is when there's a huge misunderstanding between the princess and the ogre. She decides to marry the prince since that seems to be her only option at this point. Of course, it sends Shrek into a sad funk of depression and Donkey has to step in to help out.

In order to reach The Wall, they have to actually fall in love. That's the Halfway Point. Remember, we're working backward here. In order to fall in love, they have to meet. So, how in the world is a big green ogre going to meet a princess? That is the question!

What better way to meet a princess than to have to rescue her?! I mean, it was even hinted at in the opening scene - the opening song even! So how are you going to get an ogre to rescue a princess when that's the furthest thing from his mind? He's certainly not dreaming of getting together with a princess.

Why... you make him, of course! But how? WHO is going to make an ogre do anything?! Oh my, we have a problem. We're going to have to make the ogre want to rescue the princess on his own. But why? How? He's going to have to have another problem to make him want to do something he would normally never care about.

But if he doesn't care about rescuing the princess, somebody else does. Lord Farquad wants Fiona as his princess and he simply needs someone to rescue her for him. But why would Shrek want to help somebody else? He's an ogre!

Enter the fairytale creatures infesting his swamp. SHREK WANTS HIS SWAMP BACK. But his internal need is to be loved. That's the author's goal too. When he finds out who sent them to the swamp, Shrek vows to "get his swamp back."

Thus, we have a bargaining chip. Shrek will save the princess to get his swamp back. And the character has a goal. And it's not as boring as dry toast.



Outline Your Novel:
Learn How to Study Books and Movies So You Can
Map Out a Basic Plot For Your Own Novel






Play the "What If" Game


I know I said we would go forward after we went backward, but really going backward is the way to go forward. This time, though, I'm going to use a very unfamiliar story line. Because it's one of my very own! In order to come up with the plot, I had a character with a goal. Not a piece of dry toast with no jelly.

Once you have a goal, you can create a plot. Just keep playing "what if" and work your way backward.

The main character's name in my MG (middle grade), GLEEK, is Art Schaeffer (aka Gleek). Gleek is a video game loving, snake nerd who skates by on C's and never gets to go on any of the overnight field trips because his mom can never afford it even though she works two jobs. More than anything, he wants to go to the week-long summer camp, Snakes Alive, where he can immerse himself in all things snake-ish and generally have the time of his life.

So that's his goal. To go to Snakes Alive Camp. But clearly he knows he'll never be able to go if he relies on his mom being able to pay for it. Let's have a little Shrek moment here, "Yeah, right, like that'll ever happen."

So how could he get to go? Maybe he could win some money and pay for it himself. Maybe he could inherit a large fortune. Maybe he could start a business and earn the money to go. Maybe he could win a trip to the camp.

Okay, so if he wins a trip to Snakes Alive, how would he win it? It's a contest of some kind. Maybe he has to write an essay. Maybe he'll even get to choose which camp he goes to. What if the winner of said contest got to choose between Space Camp, Snakes Alive, Cooking School, or Race Car Heaven. What if the winner doesn't get to choose? Is it a radio contest? A community contest? A school contest?

What are Gleek's weaknesses? Well, we know he's not super smart, so perhaps it should be a school contest where he has to exhibit mental prowess to earn his way to camp. Like the school science fair. You know, make it really hard.

So if he has to win the science fair, he might have to get tutored. Or at least a little help along the way. What if he makes a really great project and he feels confident he could win. How can we make it harder?

If Gleek never had a single desire, there would be no story. Play "what if". Give your character a goal. And work backward.

Open Your Story with a Promise


The promise will likely become your character's goal. It's a hint at what's to come.

In Shrek, the promise is when he laughs and says, "Yeah, right. Like that'll ever happen."

In GLEEK, the promise is in the opening chapter when Art comments that he never wins anything. He doesn't even seem to be able to beat his new video game.

In Wonder Woman, the promise is in a memory. Of looking back to a time where she longs to feel love again. A memory of love lost. We know we're ultimately going to get a love story, even though it's a story about war.

In The Bridge to Terabithia, Jesse wants his dad to love him. He has a bunch of annoying sisters and he'd give all of them away just to have a dog. He feels invisible and like his parents don't even see him, let alone love him. This is hinted at from the actions of his family, when the dad shows Jesse's little sister favoritism. Sweet goodnights. Hugs and Twinkies in her packed lunches. The promise is that he'll find acceptance and that his dad will love him.

So, how can you hint at your own story promise? What is your character's goal? The story goal? Explore. Play "what if". Give it a go. I promise, you'll be glad you did!

Got another example of a story promise? Or an un-boring character with a goal to not have dry toast? Share in the comments!



Outline Your Novel:
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Map Out a Basic Plot For Your Own Novel






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Tuesday, October 2, 2018

Loaded Potatoes and Costume Parties


How a Loaded Word Can Make a Great Theme


The other day, I was thinking about how there are a lot of loaded words out there. Words that have so much meaning attached to them that they can cause heated arguments. I'm talking about a word or phrase that has "strong positive or negative connotations beyond its ordinary definition."

Words like: love, hate, black, white, sex, race, war, food, church, God. Notice how they all happen to be single syllables too. There are more, though. Money, religion, addiction, freedom... Pretty much any number of words that carries with it strong connotations.

How Loaded Words Can Make Great Themes || How to write theme in a story? christiewrightwild.com

Loaded Potatoes


So is a loaded potato a good thing or a bad thing? Or is it even a thing at all? I know potatoes are full of carbs, but I don't care. To me, they are delicious. I can make a meal out of loaded baked potato: butter, cheese, bacon, sour cream, green onions, maybe even some broccoli and mushrooms. Potatoes can be cooked so many different ways: baked potatoes, potato au gratin, mashed potatoes, potato salad, boiled potatoes, fried potatoes, potato wedges, stuffed potatoes, and dozens more!

Words are the same way. Take "love" for example. Why do so many people hate Valentine's Day? Because they've had their hearts broken and they don't think they'll ever find love again. Is love overrated? Maybe. But probably not. We all take something different from our experiences and attach meaning to all kinds of words.

Costume Parties


When was the last time you went to a costume party? What did you dress up as? Was there a theme? Did everyone dress up in masks for the masquerade ball? Favorite book characters like a lot of kids do at school? Scary costumes for halloween with witches, goblins, vampires, and werewolves? A lot of costume parties have a theme. Not always, though. And that's okay too.

But when the parties have a theme, it's easier to feel like you fit in. I wouldn't want to accidentally dress up like a T-Rex for a fancy masquerade ball. You don't talk about certain adult topics in children's picture books, either. There's a certain expectation set for that particular age group.

Themes of Stories


Which leads me to say that books, novels, stories all have themes that we, as readers, and humans, like to explore. Themes like love, war, race, freedom, God, etc. There are plenty more themes with multiple variations of each. I'm boiling them down here to the barest of essentials in the broadest way possible.

Again, take love for example. There's forbidden love, unrequited love, love for God, for country, even for enemies. There's the love of friends and the love between lovers. And all kinds of other statements about love for everything in between.

My point is that when you hear a loaded word, jot it down in your journal. And the next time you get invited to a costume party, you may just find a new character who can explore that theme for your next book.

What will you dress up as? (Halloween's right around the corner...) Share in the comments!

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Tuesday, September 25, 2018

How to Use a Story's End to Help You Write the Beginning


Character Goals Are Evident From the Very Beginning


When you enter a race, what's the goal? To finish, to get a certain time, or to win? It could be any or all of these. But if you enter the race, you're going to have a goal.

Same thing with a novel. Your character has to have a goal. There are both needs and wants. There are character goals and story goals. Sometimes it may be one in the same, but usually not. In Wonder Woman, she wanted to end the war, but she needed to find love. Ending the war was the story goal - the want. Finding love was the character goal - the need.


How to Write the Beginning with the End in Mind || christiewrightwild.com

The Character Goal vs. Need


Start with the end in mind! In Wonder Woman, Diana wanted to end the war. Since that was going to be the end, we know that she had to be challenged in the beginning - with her questions about who she was and who her father was. She spent her whole life training physically as a warrior. That was her status quo. Fighting. It was part of who she was and part of how she would be able to reach the end.

But ultimately, she also had to find love to truly end the war. It was what gave her the real inner strength to end the war of all wars. It was what was needed to help her grow.

Your Character Needs to Have a Goal


If your main character's goal it to feel loved, then you also need a story goal. Feeling loved is the character's need. The story goal then becomes the character's want. What is your character good at? Bad at? How could your MC be challenged? What would they succeed in?

In Moana, the story goal was to save her village and restore health to the island. That is what Moana wanted to do. When she "Gunshot" happened, she set off into the ocean to obtain her goal - her want.

But Moana also had a need. She needed to find her own identity. This need was the character goal. When she became humble enough to listen to her grandmother and her own heart, she discovered who she truly was and what she was capable of becoming - a master Wayfinder. This is what she needed to reach her goal, the story goal, of restoring the heart Te Fiti, so that her village could have fish again and thrive once more.

Your Character Dictates the Plot


The four fundamentals of a novel are character, plot, conflict, and theme. The character is what all the other elements hinge from. The characters actions and reactions dictate the plot. The wants, needs, and goals dictate the conflict, and the ending - how all the conflict is resolved - dictates the theme based on the character's needs and wants and how he or she changed in order to reach those goals.

Ask yourself the following questions.
  1. What does my character want? (This is the story goal.)
  2. What does my character need to do or change in order to reach the want? (This is the character goal, which they probably don't realize.)
  3. How can my character be challenged to make reaching the want harder? (This is the conflict.)
  4. What will my character learn as a result of fulfilling the need? (This is the theme.)
What is YOUR MC's want (story goal)? Share in the comments!



Outline Your Novel:
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Map Out a Basic Plot For Your Own Novel






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Monday, September 17, 2018

How to Plot Your Novel's First Plot Point


5 Popular Examples of the Signup


The Signup is also known as the catalyst or the inciting incident. It's when the main character encounters an event that begins the story. Without this particular event, the story would never have happened. If your friend never signed you up for the local 5k, you wouldn't have run in it. That's the Signup.

How to Plot Your Novel's First Plot Point || christiewrightwild.com How can I plot the first turning point in my novel?


Indiana Jones and the Raiders of the Lost Ark


The inciting incident, catalyst, or Signup of Indiana Jones and the Raiders of the Lost Ark is when the U.S. government informs Indiana Jones that the Nazis are seeking the Ark of the Covenant in Cairo and they ask him to go after it himself. He never would have if they didn't ask him to, but especially since the Nazis were hunting it too.

Anastasia


The first plot point, or Signup, of Anastasia is when Anya leaves the orphanage and sets in place a chain of events, hence the plot has begun.

The Bourne Identity


The first essential plot point of The Bourne Identity is when Jason Bourne discovers his IDs at the Zurich bank and realizes he has no memory of his an entire past life.

A.I. Artificial Intelligence


The events of the movie, A.I., are set in motion when Monica and Henry decide to adopt the child, David.

Hotel Transylvania


The Signup of the popular children's movie, Hotel Transylvania, is when the human, Jonathan, is on a hike and accidentally discovers the monster hotel. If he hadn't discovered it, the movie would never have started.

What's the Signup of a book or movie you have recently read or watched? Share in the comments!



Outline Your Novel:
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Map Out a Basic Plot For Your Own Novel






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Monday, September 10, 2018

Wonder Woman, the Amazon Princess


Plot Arc Library Movie Outline


Sometimes plot seems so very simple. And other times, it eludes us. Plot is merely the events of what has happened in a story. It goes hand-in-hand with the characters, conflict, and the theme. These four things together make up a story. But a plot structure, the story arc, can sometimes be hard to understand. That's why it helps to look at examples. Today's Plot Arc Library installment and plot structure example is Wonder Woman, the story of the Amazon princess. Below, you'll find the 5 main plot points.

Plot Arc Library: Wonder Woman, Amazon Princess || what is the plot arc or story structure of the new Wonder Woman movie? || christiewrightwild.com

The Signup


If the German war plane had never crashed into the ocean through the forcefield surrounding the Amazon warriors, Diana would never have known about the war and she would not have left her island home. Without this plot point, the story would never have started.

The Gunshot


Just like the runners in a race take off running when the gun fires, Diana embarks on her own journey to help end the war when she sets sail on the boat with the American spy soldier, Steve Trevor.

The Halfway Point


This plot point finds Diana fighting alone as she crosses No Man's Land and captures the enemy trench. Steve and Diana share a kiss.

The Wall


This is the deepest darkest moment, the abyss. Diana's "wall" is when Steve hijacks the bomber with the poison and sacrifices himself to save everyone else.

The Finish Line


Diana's memory of Steve helps her realize that people have good inside themselves and she continues fighting until the war ends.

What's your favorite superhero movie? Share in the comments!



Outline Your Novel:
Learn How to Study Books and Movies So You Can
Map Out a Basic Plot For Your Own Novel






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Monday, August 20, 2018

How to Get Out of a Writing Rut



...and Tap Into Your Muse


It happens. We all get into a bit of a funk from time to time. It's easy to feel blah and have no drive. Life is hard...

What is this?!?! I'm supposed to be encouraging and inspiring you! Not opening the jar of darkness and letting negativity in.

But it's true. Most of us live busy lives. Jobs. Children. Family. Chores. Community. Church. You gotta walk the dog, check homework, wash the dirty dishes from the cake you just baked, mow the yard, do the laundry, take a meal to your neighbor who just got home from the hospital, pick up the living room, vacuum the house, get your oil changed, put air in the tires, de-wrinkle the clothes in the dryer - again, organize your bookshelves, pay the bills, do your nails, give your son a haircut, go school shopping, buy a new pitch fork for your compost pile, drive your husband to the dealership, email the lawyer, email 20 other people, go for a run, and remember to drink plenty of water.

You think there's any time left for writing?

I get it. Sometimes it feels like there's not enough time in the day. Sometimes there is and sometimes there isn't.

How to Get Out of a Writing Rut and Tap Into Your Muse || If you think you've hit a type of writer's block, just start writing. I'll tell you how. || ChristieWrightWild.com

Start Small


While this isn't exactly what I'd call Writer's Block, it's getting pretty close.

Commit to just 10 minutes. It's long enough to write a page. And if you write a page, you'll feel inspired to want to write another page the next day. And the next day and the next day. If you don't know what to write about, then just write nonsense.

Write about the mundane things of your day. Describe your living room. Explain to someone how to make your favorite meal. Write a fake letter you could never mail. Just 10 minutes. Start small and invite the Muse by actually writing. Anything at all...

Find Pleasure in the Little Things


This past Sunday, my family and I drove around the neighborhood looking for all the sunflower fields. I've lived here for 13 years and not once have I ever noticed a single field of sunflowers. And suddenly there's a dozen!!! Almost overnight fields of sunflowers popped up spontaneously. How did this happen? I allowed myself to be captured by the wonder and curiosity of a child.

We drove around trying to find as many fields as possible. Questions arose. How did this happen? Who planted them? Why? Does one single person own all this land in random lots? Is there some kind of secret gardening society I don't know about? It can't possibly be coincidence. Did a flock of birds make it happen? Did an airplane have a malfunction and drop a shipment of sunflower seeds over western North Carolina?

My pleasure in admiring this flower predestined for a sunny disposition led me to ride around the neighborhood looking for evidence of more? I smile (and wonder in amazement) when I think about it. And if anyone knows what happened... PLEASE let me know!!!

Push Through It and Do It Anyway


So you're tired. You just don't FEEL like writing today. I totally get it. But you know what? Once you get started, you'll liven up. You'll wake up. You'll feel the (pencil) lead running through your veins. The Muse will take hold and guide you to the next field of sunflowers if you let it.

But you have to be willing. You have to decide to write. Even if you don't want to. Start small. Find something to make you smile. And then start writing. The Muse will come. I promise. It did for me and it will for you.

Got a solution for my sunflower quandary? I'm all ears!

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Tuesday, August 14, 2018

Shrek Plot Arc and Story Structure


Shrek, Donkey, and Princess Fiona on a Whirlwind Adventure


The very beginning of Shrek introduces the fairytale: a princess is locked in the highest tower of the tallest castle, far far away. She must stay there and wait for her prince charming to rescue her with a true love's first kiss. Shrek laughs. "Yeah right, like that's ever gonna happen." But yet it does. Read on...

Story Structure and Plot Arc for the Movie, Shrek || If you're a plotting geek and love to analyze movies, or you love for someone else to break down the plot for you, then you need to read this post. || www.christiewrightwild.blogspot.com

The Signup


The point that begins the story is when Shrek inadvertently helps Donkey out by scaring off the soldiers who are chasing Donkey. Donkey then becomes a loyal friend and follows Shrek... everywhere! If Donkey didn't follow Shrek home, Shrek wouldn't have had anyone to take him to Duloc to find Lord Farquad.

The Gunshot


The second plot point of Shrek is when he and Donkey set off to find Lord Farquad in Duloc to get his land back and send all the fairy tale creatures back to where they came from. The adventure begins.

The Halfway Point


The Halfway Point aka midpoint, is when Shrek and Princess Fiona begin to like each other. It's a high point in the story.



Outline Your Novel:
Learn How to Study Books and Movies So You Can
Map Out a Basic Plot For Your Own Novel






The Wall


And now we get the low point. When Princess Fiona accepts Lord Farquad's proposal to marry him, after which everyone is sad and lonely. Donkey is all alone. Shrek is sad. Fiona is lonely. Even the Dragon is sad. It seems as though there is no way to find happiness.

The Finish Line


But yet, happiness finds a way! Donkey and Dragon plot up a scheme -- so long as Donkey can convince Shrek to get on board with the plan -- to get the Princess back into Shrek's life, since they were "obviously" meant to be together. The Finish Line is when Shrek and Fiona marry each other and kiss to get their "happily ever after."

What's your favorite Shrek scene? Share in the comments!

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Tuesday, July 31, 2018

You Know You're a Writer When... [6 of 10]


You Know You're a Runner When... [6 of 10]


You know you're a runner when you plan your vacations around an upcoming race.

You know you're a writer when you plan your vacations around a writing conference or retreat.

You know you're a writer who runs when you do both!

You know you're a runner when... || Christie Wright Wild || If you plan your vacations around upcoming races, whether it be a 5k, a 10k, a half marathon, or a full marathon, you're a runner.

You know you're a writer when... If you plan your vacations around the desire to spend a week or a weekend with a bunch of other writers at a retreat or a conference, then you're definitely a writer. || Christie Wright Wild


The Story Behind Writers Who Run


In 2014, this was me. I was listening to an interview on a podcast about portable businesses and how much she loved traveling the world in her wanderlust nature. It was then that I realized the only time I ever traveled was to go to a race or to attend a writing event.

That's when the idea for a retreat for writers and runners was born. The Writers Who Run Retreat.

Racing for Runners is Like a Social Event for Introverts


Some people run for the sheer joy of it. Some people run even though they hate it. Some people prefer the companionship of others when they run. No matter your poison, it's your choice to partake. You can't not run. It's in your blood, part of your DNA, for whatever reason. Love it or hate it, you're a runner.

I for one, love it. I would love to incorporate more "running for the sheer joy of it" into my life. But there are only so many hours in the day, two of which are spent driving. If there was a way I could run and drive at the same time, I would do it. Anyone want to become a millionaire? Bottle that idea up!

I tend to run just to train for races. I love racing. I'm slow and I rarely place (it's happened twice - they were very small races), but I love the adrenaline rush a race offers me. If you love to run and you've never entered a race, do it once. The bigger the better - unless you have a fear of crowds.

Writers Need Other Writers


Writers are just as odd as runners. What's even more unique is when you find the two inside the same human being. A writer who runs. There's a Facebook group for that.

When writers go to writing events such as workshops, conferences, and retreats, they are being brave. What if they have never shown their work to anyone else before? What if they have never admitted to anyone that they even like to write?

Writers going to a conference for FUN are also bold. They are saying that they are serious about their writing. That they have something to say to the world and they want help to make their writing the best that it can possibly be.

We need other writers. To read their words. To hear their advice. To talk to and brainstorm with. To network and encourage and inspire one another.
If you're proud to be a writer, give me a "HOO-RA!"
Leave a comment and shout it out to the world! HOO-RA!


Related Posts:
You Know You're a Writer [1 of 10] | You Know You're a Runner [1 of 10]
You Know You're a Writer [2 of 10] | You Know You're a Runner [2 of 10]
You Know You're a Writer [3 of 10] | You Know You're a Runner [3 of 10]
You Know You're a Writer [4 of 10] | You Know You're a Runner [4 of 10]
You Know You're a Writer [5 of 10] | You Know You're a Runner [5 of 10]

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Tuesday, July 17, 2018

Comes a Wind by Linda Arms White


Plot Arc Library: Picture Book Outline #1


This is the first official installment of a picture book outline for my new Plot Arc Library. Comes a Wind is a children's picture book written by Linda Arms White and illustrated by Tom Curry.

Summary/Hook/Pitch/About/Description:

While visiting their mother's ranch, two brothers who constantly try to best each other swap tall tales about big winds are surprised by the fiercest wind they have ever seen.

Picture Book Outline for Comes a Wind by Linda Arms White || Plot Arc Library, christiewrightwild.com

Plot Point 1: The Signup (aka the catalyst)


Mama wrote her two sons a letter inviting them over to celebrate her birthday -- with one birthday wish: for them to get along and "stop squabblin'"

Plot Point 2: The Gunshot (aka the point of no return)


After the wind picks up when Mama heads in the house to fetch some lemonade, Clement says, "Looks like it comes a wind."

Clyde starts the squabblin' by saying... "You call that a wind? Why, one day it was so windy..."

And the trouble ensues.

Plot Point 3: The Halfway Point (aka the midpoint)


Mama returns with the lemonade and goes back in for the cake. More tall tales are told. And then... the sky turns a dusty red as the wind picks up and cows start flying.



Outline Your Novel:
Learn How to Study Books and Movies So You Can
Map Out a Basic Plot For Your Own Novel






Plot Point 4: The Wall (aka rock bottom)


Mama returns with the cake and is blown over the barn. The wind stops and she lands on top of the weather vane.

Plot Point 5: The Finish Line (aka the climax)


Clement and Clyde work together to rescue Mama and they finally agree:

"Now that--" said Clement.
"--was a wind!" said Clyde.

Did you like this Picture Book Outline in the Plot Arc Library? Do you have a special request of a popular movie or picture book you'd like me to use as a future example? Share in the comments!

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Tuesday, July 10, 2018

Jurassic Park


The Marathon Method of Plotting


This is the first official installment in my brand new Plot Arc Library. Movies are faster to absorb than reading an entire novel. So when studying story structure and plot points, it's a great idea to look at popular movie examples to understand plot arc.

The nature of a plot point is such that it is short, like a simple mile marker in a race. Just a spec on the larger spectrum of the full story (or race). The more examples you see (and study), the easier plotting will become. When you think about plotting your novel like running a marathon, it starts to make a little more sense.

Movie outline for Jurassic Park || Christie Wright Wild - Plot Arc Library

Plot Point 1: The Signup


The first plot point of the five major plot points in any story is also known as the inciting incident, the call to action, the defining moment, or the catalyst. The Marathon Method of Plotting calls the first plot point in the narrative story arc THE SIGNUP.

John Hammond, the old rich man who owns Jurassic Park, invites archaeologist, Alan Grant, to join him for the weekend to check out his new park in hopes that he will agree to endorse it. John keeps it a mystery from Alan, but says it's right up his alley.

Plot Point 2: The Gunshot


The Gunshot is the point of no return.

In Jurassic Park, this is the moment when we see that Alan has agreed to visit the park. He is on the helicopter with his colleague, Ellie, a chaotician, Ian Malcolm, the "bloodsucking lawyer", and of course John Hammond, himself. Alan is on the journey now. There's no turning back.

Plot Point 3: The Halfway Point


When Alan saves one of John's two grandchildren, Timmy from the car dangling in a tree, he has overcome a major challenge, but we know that there will be many more challenges to overcome: the storm, getting back to the safety of the compound, and more.



Outline Your Novel:
Learn How to Study Books and Movies So You Can
Map Out a Basic Plot For Your Own Novel






Plot Point 4: The Wall


The Wall is the lowest point, the darkest abyss, rock bottom.

In Jurassic Park, The Wall is when the velociraptors attack. They attack Ellie after she gets the power turned back on. They attack John's two grandchildren when they are in the kitchen back at the compound. They continue to attack until the T-rex shows up, allowing everyone to escape.

Plot Point 5: The Finish Line


The Finish Line is the climax of the story, the point in which the goal has been reached (or failure has been established).

In this story, the Finish Line is when everyone escapes from the raptors and T-rex and Alan shouts to John as they climb in the Jeep, "Hammond, after careful consideration, I've decided not to endorse your park."

Did you like this Plot Point Example? Do you have a special request of a popular movie you'd like me to use as a future Plot Point Example? Share in the comments!

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Jurassic Park - Plot Arc Example - When John Hammond invites Alan Grant to his theme park, he hopes to get several endorsements. || Story structure of the movie Jurassic Park.

Tuesday, May 8, 2018

How Neflix Can Help You Become a Better Writer


Understanding Plot Points Through Netflix Movies


So you love to read and write, right? But you also love a good story in movie format. So break out the popcorn and get comfy. It's time to tell a story, Netflix style. You don't have to binge-watch Netflix to figure out how to get your character from Point A to Point B. All you have to do is know the 5 Marathon Mile Markers of a Novel and learn how to use the pause button.

How Netflix Can Help You Become a Better Writer: Understanding Plot Points Through Netflix Movies || how to write a novel, how to understand plot arc and story arc, what is narrative arc, https://christiewrightwild.blogspot.com/2018/05/how-neflix-can-help-you-become-better.html

The Power of the Digital Age of Movie Watching


The age of digital streaming is amazing, although the local theatre in my town would have to disagree. Once the industry required movies to stream digitally (and no longer offered filmstrips in the Old School style), they had to close their doors. It was going to cost over a million dollars to convert the theatre to be digital compatible. So now when we want to watch something on the big screen, we have to drive to the town on either side of us. That's okay though because when there's only two screens, there's only two choices.

The digital age of movie watching via Internet streaming has brought more movies into the homes of America than ever before. Like ever. With hundreds of thousands of options available with the flick of a wrist and the press of a button, you can be watching your favorite flicks in no time flat. While there are certainly pros and cons to family life and procrastination and societal niceties, the novelist has much to rejoice about!

The Power of the Pause Button When Watching Netflix


While reading novels are still a writer's best friend, if you're struggling with understanding plot (story arc, plot arc, narrative arc, or story structure), watching a movie is much faster.

The whole point of watching "TV" at home is so you can hit the pause button.

"Hey, pause that! I've gotta use the bathroom."
"Pause it, I need to get some more popcorn."
"Rewind that. I missed what she said."

As a writer, it's a lot easier to take notes about plot if you know you have the capability to pause when needed.

Beginning, Middle, and End


If you know the only 5 plot points you need to write a novel, then you will be happy to also know that the only notes you need to take when watching a movie are those 5 plot points. Let me break it down for you.


This graph shows a typical three-act plot structure for movies and books with a classic hero's journey plot line. The beginning is the first 25%, the middle takes up 50% of the story, and the ending is the final 25%.

As a quick review, the first plot point is the inciting incident, aka The Sign Up. It happens at the end of the beginning and starts the journey of the second act. The next three plot points happen in the middle of the story: The Gun Shot, The Halfway Point, and The Wall. The final plot point is The Finish Line.

When you press pause on a Netflix movie, you can see the red timeline bar at the bottom that tells you how long the movie you have left. Sometimes, it shows the 25%, 50%, and 75% markings, depending on how and where you're watching the movie and what device you use to stream it with. A Roku device will show the percentage markings.

The really cool thing is that the plot points for a lot of movies align with with the actual 25, 50, and 75 marker points. So, if you're struggling with which event in the story matches the main plot points (sometimes it can seem a little tricky), just hit pause and see where the percentage marker falls on the timeline.

Now that you know the correlation, what movie will you begin with? A new one? Or a classic favorite. I recommend a favorite because the story is already familiar and it will be easier to pinpoint.



Outline Your Novel:
Learn How to Study Books and Movies So You Can
Map Out a Basic Plot For Your Own Novel






What's one of your favorite movies? Share in the comments!

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Tuesday, May 1, 2018

Ratatouille for Writers: Advice as Good as Chef Gusteau's


Anyone Can Write...


"Anyone can cook, but that doesn't mean they should..." ~ Remi, Ratatouille

Anyone can cook, but only a chef can create award-winning meals at a restaurant for the general public.

Anyone can run, but only a competitive athlete can get sponsors to run in a race - for a living.

Anyone can write, but only an author can publish multiple books and create a raving fan base of readers.



Anyone Can Write


So, yeah, anyone can write, but does that mean they should? Chef Gusteau would say, "Yes!"

If you want to write, then write.

Just because a person writes does not necessarily mean they are seeking publication.

Perhaps you write a blog to help others learn how to garden or cook or make leather belts.

Perhaps you journal for self reflection and to save money by not needing to see a therapist.

Perhaps you write fun stories for your family members and simply enjoy the act of creating a story for your loved ones.

No matter the reason, if you want to write, then write!

Mentors Make a Difference


When you're writing for publication, it's important to work on craft and make your writing the best that it can possibly be.

You can do this through critique groups, multiple revisions, and paid professional critiques.

If you're looking to become an author and generate a fanbase over time, you need a mentor, or several. In the movie Ratatouille, Remi the rat was Linguine's mentor.

Your mentor will likely be a critique partner (or an entire group of CPs). Over time, your mentor may shift to the role of an agent or editor.

Even published authors continue to work with mentors.

Persistence Pays Off


Writers who write are writers who become authors.

Being persistent about getting published will help you get a book deal. But before that happens, being CONSISTENT will help you become a better writer, so start there.

One tip to make your writing more consistent is to pick a time and/or place to write daily (or at the very least, once a week). Make it a part of your daily routine, even if it's just for 15-20 minutes.

Even though most people dream of writing a book and getting published, very very few people actually finish writing a book, and even fewer see it through to publication.

Anyone can write... Are you?

Who is your favorite author? Share in the comments!

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Tuesday, April 24, 2018

From Idea to Novel: How to Write Your 1st Novel



The 4 Essential Elements of Novel Writing


So, you're a complete newbie to writing? You want to write a novel, but you have no idea where to start? Chances are if you want to write a novel, you already have a great idea. That's the first step! Now you just have to get organized and flesh everything else... or you could start writing and see where it leads you.

You have to start somewhere. IT'S NOT GOING TO BE PERFECT. You're going to have to rewrite and revise many times. It's all part of the territory. Here are four essential elements for writing a novel: character, plot, conflict, and theme.

Free write a few paragraphs for each and see where it takes you. When you're ready for the next step, it's time to map out your plot.


Character


If you have an idea for a novel, you likely already know your character, at least a little bit. You could Google the ethers and find all kinds of character worksheets to fill out, or you could simply start with the basics: goal and motivation.

The goal is what your main character (MC) wants. The motivation is the why. If there's no why behind the desire, then the goal is arbitrary and has no meaning. The reader wants to care, so make sure your MC cares about what he or she wants.

If you're struggling with some of the finer details, you can do an activity I call "Alphabet Soup". Take each letter of the alphabet and list out things about your character in a word or a short phrase. Nouns work best. Adjectives are the least intriguing. For example, which gives you a better image of a character? Smart? Or six books about how to grow a dandelion garden?

Plot


Without plot, there is no story. But there's also no story without character or conflict. The plot is the thread of what happens. But it can't be random things that merely happen just to have something happen. They have to be connected and have a point for happening. There are actually 5 main plot points that can jumpstart your novel.

  1. The Signup
  2. The Gunshot
  3. The Halfway Point
  4. The Wall
  5. The Finish Line

Think about a marathon. Think about what your MC wants (that's the finish line). Work backwards and reconstruct how that goal will be reached.



Outline Your Novel:
Learn How to Study Books and Movies So You Can
Map Out a Basic Plot For Your Own Novel






Conflict


Conflict is merely a series of ups and downs in the plot. Conflict makes the story interesting, believable, and worthy of reading. We crave good stories that allow us to root for someone. We want to see the MC win, just as we ourselves want to reach our own goals in life - like writing a novel!

What obstacles can you throw at your MC to make life difficult. They have to have something to overcome. Make it hard. Like a 10k race with no porta potties, no water stop, no shade, and no breeze. Those are real challenges to a runner. What challenges does your MC have to face?

Theme


Without theme, there's really no purpose in telling a story. If it doesn't teach us how to be better humans (in a very non-teachy way), then what was the point in telling the story (or reading it) if we can't change along with the MC?

Theme gives our stories purpose, passion, and a reason to be written. Novels are complex works of art and have multiple themes that intertwine and overlap. Life is messy and complicated. A well-written novel helps us make sense out of the chaos.

Your MC's why may be related to the theme. So if you don't know your why, you may have a hard time saying what it is you're really trying to say. And as writers, aren't we simply trying to say something meaningful to make the world a better place (and entertain while we're doing it)?

Which element do you find the easiest? Hardest? Share in the comments!

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