Warming Up for our Kick-off

The plot thickens...

Hi guys – It’s me, Emily.

Can you believe it? There are exactly four weeks until THE DRAFT HOUSE’s 2016/2017 Draft Season begins. M.J. and I are really excited about the nine months ahead and even more stoked about the team that’s assembled – THAT’S YOU! You guys are inspiring us in ways we never imagined. We can’t wait to watch you all dig in and start racking up words. (And don’t worry, we’ll be in the trenches with you, writing to reach our goals as well.)

Shortly, each of you will be meeting individually with M.J. to formulate your writing plan and daily word count goals in preparation for our kick-off meeting on Sunday, August 7. In light of that, I’d like to talk about what you can be doing in the meantime to make sure that you’re ready to hit the ground running (or typing, whatevs).

DISCLAIMER: I am assuming, at this point, you have a cast of characters – your major ones, at least – and you know them and love them and sometimes pretend they are real. I’m also assuming you have decide on the setting(s) where your story will take place. I also am assuming you have formulated a general (or specific) idea of what’s going to happen in your book. You may have a fuzzier idea of what your book’s ABOUT (themes), but that’s okay. You’ll discover those deeper, connecting elements as you write, rewrite, revise and edit further versions.

For now, let’s deal with PLOT.

So, grab a notebook or legal pad, go back and read the blog entitled DRAW A PICTURE / PREP YOUR BOOK.

If you haven’t already sketched out your book, do it. That’s right. I’ll wait.


*waits some more*

*Checks Twitter*

Excellent. Now, on a separate sheet of paper (or on your computer) list out the five high points I mentioned in the blog. Leave a lot of white (yellow) space around each high point, because you may need to edit. So your list will look like this:






Now, I want you to think about your story as a whole. In order to do that, you need to back away from it, much like you have to back away from those giant paintings of the French Revolution in museums in order to really see all the gory stuff happening within the frame.

Step back. Wayyyy back.

Notice the five high points in the narrative. These are the events – the plot points – that CHANGE THE DIRECTION YOUR CHARACTER AND STORY ARE GOING. Sometimes they change the setting as well.

The INCITING INCIDENT sets your story in motion. It can be an explosion but it doesn’t have to be something quieter – a question one character asks another. Or the discovery of a lost dog. Whatever.

Write it down in one phrase or sentence. No more.

The FIRST TURNING POINT is the cannon shot that sets your main character in motion. Oftentimes, it includes a setting change. Or a change of attitude. A new piece of information that leaves the main character with no choice but to…. whatever it is he/she said they would never do.

Write that down. One phrase or sentence. That’s all.

The MID POINT is what I like to call the “Ohhhhhhh, damn” moment. When something big happens, something unexpected and the main character’s (and reader’s) eyes bug and mouth drop and they say, “Ohhhhhh, damn, that did NOT just happen.”

It did. So write it.

The SECOND TURNING POINT is the kicker where you can introduce a twist, a revelation or a final devastating situation for your main character (and sometimes I end up smooshing all of the above together, depending on how I’m feeling). It’s the final high point that leads to your climax.

Write it, my dears. Write it.

The CLIMAX solves the problem or answers the question the INCITING INCIDENT created or asked. It’s as simple as that.

You know what to do.

Next week, we’ll talk shading in this list: adding a few more crucial elements to your very basic outline in order to make sure you have something to write toward.

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