Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Another Writing Epiphany

Okay, before the actual blog post I want to give a shout out to a wonderful blog that I've been following for a few months now. Janice Hardy, author of The Shifter, has some awesome advice for writers. I've spend some time checking out her posts and have found very useful tips. She covers a whole range of topics like opening lines, how to plan your book, and the importance of knowing where your characters are emotionally. So check it out - you won't be disappointed!

Sometimes when I'm staring at a blank screen on my laptop, wishing that blinking cursor would quit mocking me, I reach for my handy-dandy writing notebook. It's the one in which I have all of my writerly tips, inspiration and whatnot, secrets for writing the next Harry Potter. (Yeah, I wish!)

Well, last night was one of those I-don't-have-a-freaking-clue-what-to-write-next-I-suck-as-a-writer moments, so I procrastinated via the notebook. And I came across this gem that I had forgotten about.

**Plot is the mechanism by which your protagonist is pushed up against his or her core desires and/or fears. Stories have to be reducible to something concrete - almost always an intense desire or fear. (Courtesy of Writer's Digest Magazine)

And voila, everything made sense again. I am going to have to keep reminding myself on a daily basis what the whole story is about, what my main character wants above all else. That in itself will make it easier to get inside her head and really understand what choices she will make and more importantly why she makes them.

So do you know what your mc's core desires and fears are? Do you find that this knowledge makes it easier to write your story?


  1. Yesterday I came across with the same feeling, i-dont-know-what-i-am-doing-i-suck-as-a-writer moments, and I never thought about keeping a notebook next to me to remind me to think positively rather than negatively.

    Everyone has bad moments, but re-visiting what your main character is all about could really help!

    Awesome Post!

  2. This is a good post!

    Excellent advice for where I am at right now in my writing. I think I got a bit caught up in the flashy action sequences and was starting to wonder if my MC's thoughts and despair over her core desires and fears were boring. This has reminded me that every part has its place in the story and that the close evaluation of a character's motives are just as important as their actions. At least, that is the feeling I am getting.

    Now I shall try and drag myself out of the I'd-rather-be-playing-online-poker-why-am-I-even-trying-to-be-a-writer slump that has been nagging at me all morning.

  3. OMG. My light bulb just clicked on. I must go write. Thanks for posting! Such good advice. : )

  4. Okay, I had to come back to copy off that little snippet form Writers Digest. : )

    Have a great night!!

  5. Jen - Yeah, I have those moments at least once a week. I guess it comes with the territory:)

    Morgan - Glad I could help:)

    Kimberly - Yay for the lightbulb moments! I love those!

  6. I might have to steal your writing notebook! Sounds like some good and inspirational tips.
    My current MC has a lot going on, but I know her overall goal. She oesn't know it yet, but I do ;)

  7. Great post! Now following Janice Hardy - thanks for the link ;o)

    Yeah, isn't it funny how we forget that sometimes. What does the MC want? It's a simple question yet, we get sidetracked with subplots and descriptions. Thanks for the reminder. Glad your writing is back on :o)

  8. Melissa,

    As it turns out, my MC's are a lot like me! Even my bad guys have a touch of me in their personalities. So it does help me know what motivates them, scares them, etc.

    Really cool post! I never realized that about my writing!

    xoxo -- Hilary

  9. Good reminder on how to plan your charcters and keep them progressing.

  10. Oh, that is a gem! I think knowing the desires and fears of your MCs ultimately make the entire plot present itself. And it's a must to really get a sense of how to create your character. Oh, I love this point. Gonna take this one down.

  11. Karen - I'll share the good stuff with everyone! Glad you know your characters so well:)

    Erica - Oh, you're so right about the subplot descriptions! But it's a necessary evil:)

    Hilary - I think to some degree, out characters are all a reflection of ourselves. Good point to bring up:)

    Patti - Thanks!

    Carol - Yes, exactly! The whole plot becomes much clearer when you can identify the core motivation of your main character.