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

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. ||

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.

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!

Keep on keepin' on...


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]

Keep on keepin' on...


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.


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,

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.

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!

Keep on keepin' on...


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.

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!

Keep on keepin' on...


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,

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.

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

Keep on keepin' on...


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!

Keep on keepin' on...


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.


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?


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.


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?


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!

Keep on keepin' on...


Tuesday, April 17, 2018

How Can the Story of Easter Help You Write a Novel?

The 5 Main Plot Points of the Life of Jesus Christ

As I write this, Easter was about a month ago. Even though Easter is over, it's a timeless holiday that most Christians celebrate all year long. So how can taking a second look at the world's greatest hero who ever lived help you write your novel? Well, following the Marathon Method of Plotting, you'll see how even the life of Jesus follows the classic plot of the Hero's Journey.

The Sign Up

Just like any racer would never run in a race unless they first register for it, Jesus' life never would have happened unless He was born. He had to be born on the Earth before his story could truly begin.

The Gunshot

When the gunshot of a race signals the runners to take off, they embark on their journey. They accept the journey ahead and continue running (or occasionally walking) to finish the race and complete their goal.

With the life of Jesus, the Gunshot point is when John the Baptist baptized Jesus in the River Jordan to "fulfill all righteousness." He was baptized to show his willingness and acceptance of the Plan of Salvation. Once he was baptized, there was no turning back on his journey to save all mankind. He was in it to win it.

The Halfway Point

In a marathon, the halfway point represents a major accomplishment: a HALF marathon! You're halfway there!

In the life of Jesus Christ, the Halfway Point does not correlate directly to the halfway point of his years lived on Earth. If that were the case, it would have occurred when he was merely 16, but it didn't happen when he was a teen. The Halfway Point occurred during the events of Easter week, when Jesus was praying in the Garden of Gethsemane to redeem all mankind from sin. The Atonement is the Halfway Point because it represents major progress in his goal to redeem us and help us return to the Father.

The Wall

The Wall is the point in a marathon in which one's legs become rubbery, feet are throbbing (more so than usual) and mental blocks are formed, racked with doubt, fear, and pain. How does a runner get past the Wall? They look inside to their internal inspiration and simply keep going.

The Wall for Jesus, in the story of Easter, is when He was lifted up on the cross at Calgary and he cried out for help, "My God, My God, why hast thou forsaken me? If it be thy will, take this cup from me?" I don't think that Jesus had any doubts that He could finish the task he began, but he was in pain and felt defeated. He "hit the wall".

The Finish Line

Once a runner crosses the finish line, the story isn't over, but they have reached their goal. When your main character accomplishes their goal, the finish line (or climax) has been reached.

The story of Easter's Finish Line is the resurrection of Jesus Christ, the final act in his journey to help mankind reach eternal life. Because Jesus Christ was resurrected, all those who have died will also be resurrected.

When you follow the Marathon Method of Plotting, you can start writing your novel as soon as you can define these 5 main plot points in your own story.

Do you have a special request for a story, novel, or movie to be added to the Plot Arc Library? Let me know and I'll add it to the queue! Share in the comments!

Keep on keepin' on...



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