Monday, September 23, 2013

Carving out time to write

I'm a father to two young kids, married, and have a full time job. If you recognize the situation, you probably have a good understanding of how difficult it is to carve out the necessary time to write. I've been able to use the odd lunch hour to get some quality time to write, but the evening after work and after getting the kids down prove to be rather unproductive. I do manage to get some writing in, but it's always seems to be distracted writing time.

I'm hoping to kick off some early morning writing sessions, perhaps getting up an hour earlier in the morning than the kids. Also, for the weekends, I want to establish some dedicate some writing time, that way once that time is used up, I turn my attention to all my other responsibilities. Doing it this way I hope to avoid the guilt of not writing on the weekends and getting flack for spending all my free time writing when I should be helping out around the house!

I'm trying to figure out the best way to get this done and I know it's different for everyone. I've been regularly hitting a 500 word a day target, so with the dedicated time, I'd like to push this a bit hard, perhaps up to 1,000 words. And of course, a simple word target isn't the only part of writing writers need to focus on. There's plotting and characters and research to focus on, as just the tip of the iceberg as there's much more like writing up a synopsis and log lines...

Does anyone have any other advice to share in terms of carving our time to write? How much time do you dedicate in a week to write?

Sunday, September 8, 2013

Butcher's Scene and Sequel

The scene and sequel concept is nothing new in fiction and is a great way to ensure structure in your story and to keep it moving. Jim Butcher has refined the process and provided a working frame to set up the scene and sequel structure.

Distilled from these notes:

- follow a sub-pattern of stimulus-response: action-response
- where the action happens, where the conflict occurs, and where the consequences begin.

Point of View (PoV) – You tell the scene from the point of view of the person with the most to lose
Character’s Goal – What is the goal of the PoV character? The audience needs to know the goal. The goal is active, immediate, and important.
Conflict – What's stopping the character from reaching their goal? The antagonist should be the conflicting force as much as possible. You should be investing the antagonist's time.
Setback – There are four ways to end a scene: Will the protagonist succeed?
   Yes – BORING!
   Yes/But – Success but there are consequences.
    No – Fails and must get a new goal. Great for showing determination but often leads to hard plot stops.
   No and Furthermore – Not only does the character not succeed but there are new plot complications that arise as the result of the failure. Save this for critical points in the story.

- happen after scenes
- show the character’s reaction in the following order.
   + Emotion – “Oh my God I’ve been in a car crash!”. Emotion is what you feel first after a traumatic event.
   + Reason
      - Logic – “Am I bleeding?” where the character activates his/her brain to evaluate the immediate situation.
      - Review – “Am I late?” A review of the things that got them to the point of the trauma and the immediate effect of it.
      - Anticipation – “What’s going to happen next? Will the car explode?” Anticipation is the character trying to figure out what might happen next.
   + Choice – What the character decides to do after the event.

The above reactions lead to a new goal and next scene.

Friday, September 6, 2013

Ty Templeton's Plotting panel from Fan Expo 2013

Ty Templeton's "How to plot a story in under and hour"

My notes: 
- Every story ever told has an order:
     1) What is normal
     2) What has changed the normal
     3) What result from that change Plot

- A character discovers that they want something and put effort into bringing it about. A character has to matter to an audience

- Create the concept of a story around the basic description of the character, an ironic twist helps for example, an alcoholic firefighter or a cowardly firefighter, which instantly suggests a story

- Your character is the _blank_ _blank_ in _blank_. For example, Batman is the greatest detective in the world or Robin Hood is the greatest archer in England.

- "Be a sadist to your characters, we learn nothing about your characters if they're happy" - Vonnegut

- Your character earns their goal by deserving what they get by accumulating karma throughout the story

- Halfway through the story, the thing they desire becomes less important than something else

- Unexpected reward or loss, that thing they don't see coming - for example, in Raiders of the Lost Ark, Indy sets out looking for the Ark, but find the love of Marion, the movie ends with the ark being stored away while Indy has Marion

- What is your character not expecting? loss or gain?

- A character's success or failure has to be because of what he/she is

- A character must succeed with a cost, a price; they may get what they set out to get in the begining, but they lose that new something, so there's a struggle, a choice

- Set pieces that stick to a reader's imagination, these set pieces matters where they are, the environment has to play an integral part to the story and character

- The environment also tells a story, it becomes the character, it tells you who the character is

- What's the story's theme? What's the lesson learned? Go back and inject that theme into the story.

Check out for more information on Ty Templeton and his upcoming comic book bootcamp classes.