Monday, July 27, 2020

Plot Summary of Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone

Are you a Harry Potter fan? If so, this 5-point plot synopsis may interest you, especially if you're also a writer. There’s a little bit of disagreement around how others define them, but this is my take. The Marathon Method of Plotting is the easiest way to break down plot and analyze any story.

Harry Potter 5-point plot synopsis.

The Signup


A mysterious letter arrives for Harry, but he is not allowed to open it. More letters continue to arrive in the days before his 11th birthday, though he is prevented from opening any of them.

If Harry had never received the letter, there would be no story.


The Gunshot


Harry boards the train at King’s Cross Station at Platform 9¾ to go to Hogwarts.

When Harry takes a leap of faith to board the train to Hogwarts, his journey begins.


The Halfway Point


Harry, Ron, and Hermione discover a three-headed dog, and Hermione points out that it was guarding a trap door to something.

This is a hingepoint in the story and now they want to know what is hiding down there.


The Wall


Harry is almost seized by Voldemort in the Forbidden Forest, but a centaur saves him.

This is Harry’s lowest point, even lying on the ground, nearly at the mercy of Lord Voldemort. But the centaur’s rescue does not end the book or solve the main problem, so Harry still has a bit of work to do.


The Finish Line


Harry lies to Quirrel about what he sees in the mirror. He defeats Quirrel by touching him, and Quirrel’s skin burns on contact.

Defeating Quirrel, Voldemort’s human host, releases Voldemort back into spirit form and Harry is safe… for now.

For more plot summaries, see my Plot Arc Library.

QUESTION: What's your favorite scene in this Harry Potter book? I know it's hard to choose; there are so many good ones! I love the snake scene at the zoo and also the sorting hat. Leave a comment and let me know!



Outline Your Own Novel with the 5 Main Plot Points





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Tuesday, July 21, 2020

Plot Summary of The Great Greene Heist by Varian Johnson


I found this book at a Scholastic Book Fair (among others) held at my children’s elementary school years ago. When I read the back-cover copy, I was intrigued and subsequently purchased the book. The Great Greene Heist by Varian Johnson has been called an Ocean’s Eleven book for kids.

I found this book at a Scholastic Book Fair held at my children’s elementary school years ago. When I read the back-cover copy, I was intrigued and subsequently purchased the book. The Great Greene Heist by Varian Johnson has been called an Ocean’s Eleven book for kids.


Book Summary:


This summary comes from the Scholastic website.

Jackson Greene swears he's given up scheming. Then school bully Keith Sinclair announces he's running for Student Council president, against Jackson's former friend Gaby de la Cruz. Gaby wants Jackson to stay out of it, but he knows Keith has "connections" to the principal, which could win him the presidency no matter the vote count.

So Jackson assembles a crack team: Hashemi Larijani, tech genius. Victor Cho, bankroll. Megan Feldman, science goddess. Charlie de la Cruz, reporter. Together they devise a plan that will take down Keith, win Gaby's respect, and make sure the election is done right. If they can pull it off, it will be remembered as the school's greatest con ever, one worthy of the name The Great Greene Heist.

The following actions represent the novel’s five main plot points. When you think about the plot, think about how it applies to running a marathon.

The Signup


Jackson’s friend, Hashemi (Hash) suggests there’s another way for Gaby to win, then specifically asks Jackson if he has a plan. Without this invitation to help Gaby, there would not have been a story to tell.

The Gunshot


On the way to study hall, Jackson slipped Charlie a note: “I have a plan.” Jackson finally accepted the call to action and began his journey to help Gaby win the election.

The Halfway Point


Victor borrows the keys to the art supply closet to take pictures of all the keys so that they could have a way to “hack” the Gutenbabel 4200. This represents significant progress toward the plan.



Outline Your Novel With a Simple Plot





The Wall


Jackson is getting grilled by the friendly security guard, Mr. James. Jackson calls “CODE RED” because he sees no way out. He has hit rock bottom.

The Finish Line


When Gaby runs up Jackson in the gym at the school formal, he pockets his phone in HER jacket so that he wouldn’t be caught with his cell phone. Gaby has won the election and Jackson didn’t get caught. The final chapter explains how they pulled it off.

I recently found out about the SEQUEL: TO CATCH A CHEAT!

Jackson receives a link to a faked security video that seems to show him and the rest of Gang Greene flooding the school gym. The jerks behind the video threaten to pass it to the principal — unless Jackson steals an advance copy of the school’s toughest exam.

QUESTION: Have you seen Ocean’s 11? The original 1960 version was directed by Lewis Milestone. The remake of Ocean’s Eleven was made in 2001, starring George Clooney. Let me know in the comments!

To see more posts like this, visit the Plot Arc Library!


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Monday, July 6, 2020

3 Best Ways to Find an Agent

If you’ve written a manuscript and it’s been vetted by a critique group or several beta readers, then you might be ready to start looking for a literary agent. Maybe you’ve had it professionally critiqued several times and you’re ready to have an agent start sending your work out on your behalf. If so, here are three ways to find a literary agent.


If you’ve written a manuscript and it’s been vetted by a critique group or several beta readers, then you might be ready to start looking for a literary agent. Maybe you’ve had it professionally critiqued several times and you’re ready to have an agent start sending your work out on your behalf. If so, here are three ways to find a literary agent.


Writing Conferences



I made a connection with an agent at a writing conference that resulted in landing my first agent. That’s one reason why agents attend writing conferences! They want to find fresh new voices with unique ideas. They’re hoping to find a new writer to add to their list.

When you go to a writing conference, workshop, or retreat, take note of any agents that may be attending. They typically attend larger conferences as opposed to more personal workshops and retreats.

  • Attend their sessions. 
  • Take good notes. 
  • Strike up a conversation.

If the event gives instructions on how to submit to the agents and editors, follow the instructions to the letter!

Here are a few things to NOT do at a conference. Don’t pitch them with your book ideas during the conference (unless that’s a special event happening similar to speed dating). Don’t stalk them and try to slip your manuscript under the bathroom stalls. And definitely don't tell them that you've written the next Harry Potter. If you’re lucky enough to eat lunch at the same table with an agent, don’t talk about your book the whole time. If they ask, give them your elevator pitch in 30 seconds or less (about 1-2 short sentences) what your book is about. Then move on to another topic.


What is MS Wishlist?



MS Wishlist is a website, also known as “Manuscript Wishlist”, that curates wish lists from agents and editors who use the #mswl hashtag on Twitter.

The beauty of this is you can find out what they want and what they’re interested in. This is how I found my second agent. Scout out the website and filter by categories. You’ll likely find a few posts that pique your interest.

Come up with a short “pitch” to reply to their tweet. Ask if they are interested in seeing a formal query letter. If so, they will likely respond and give you a website with detailed instructions for how to submit to them. Good luck!


Acknowledgements in Novels



No, I haven’t gotten a third agent. But I hear this advice all the time. When you’re researching (i.e. reading) books similar to yours, or at least in the same genre, pay attention to the acknowledgments section in the book, especially if it’s a novel.

If it’s a book you like, or a publisher you like, then that agent may be a good fit for you as well. When you reach out to the agent via a submission, mention other books they have represented. They love it when you do your homework.

If it’s a publisher you know you love, then this agent will have a great connection there. This is a great way to research books to find what publishers you like and what agents might be a great fit for you. Keep track of all your findings in a spreadsheet so that you can remember book titles, publishers, and agents that authors mention in their acknowledgements.

And once you get an agent, be sure to KEEP WRITING!

Do you have an agent? If so, how did you find him or her? If not, what other advice have you heard? Share your comment here.


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