Tag Archive 'plot'

Everything I Need to Know About Plot, I Learned From Buffy

photo by Jaina

A couple of weeks ago, a client told me one of his beta readers had said his book read like a comic book.  I asked why that was a bad thing.

Granted, you don’t want your characters to be shallow caricatures or your plot to be mechanical or contrived, which is what many people mean by “reads like a comic book.”  But all of this client’s characters were fully rounded and plausibly human.  Even the psychopath who hunted […]

A Matter of Time

Flickr Creative Commons: Terri Oda

Begin at the beginning and go on till you come to the end:  then stop.”

It was good advice when Lewis Carol gave it in Alice in Wonderland, and it still is. When your story follows a straight timeline, it’s a lot easier to show how one event flows into the next. This makes it simpler to show your characters’ growth and ramp your plot tension up toward your climax.  It’s the way things unfold in the […]

Layering: A look at Jennifer Weiner’s “Swim”

Flickr Creative Commons:Benjamin Dunn

And now for something completely different.  Instead of my explaining a single idea or craft point, I’d like us to look together at a complete short story, the way we would if we were in a classroom or a critique group.  I’ll give you my take on it, but I’m eager to know yours as well.  (I hope the comments section will grow enjoyably lively.)  I suspect there are things we can see looking at a […]

The Cadaver Wore Text (aka the Case for Plot Dissection)

I managed to enter med school without attending a funeral or viewing a single dead person. So at age twenty, as I boarded the elevator which would take me to my first practical session in Human Anatomy, and with it my first encounter with a cadaver, I roiled with emotion.

Though we didn’t speak of it, I could tell my classmates were in a similar state. (Even then, the “code” was to maintain emotional control in front of one another.)

I recall […]

Building a Plot of Variable Depth

Yes, you read that right, depth. There are lots of ways to describe the various moments of a plot as it develops, but I think in images, and when I think of plot, I see it in spatial terms regarding the depths of life it plumbs at different moments along the way.

To me, there are shallow days and deep days. Shallow days are those that tick on along in ordinary moments, almost on autopilot, never delving below the surface […]

Characters Welcome

Arrow Studio, Los Angeles

Today’s guest is bestselling Kindle author Kathleen Shoop. Her second historical fiction novel, After the Fog, is set in 1948 Donora, Pennsylvania. The mill town’s “killing smog” was one of the worst environmental disasters in U.S. history, triggering clean air advocacy and eventually, the Clean Air Act. Kathleen’s debut novel, The Last Letter, sold more than 50,000 copies and garnered multiple awards in 2011, including the Independent Publisher Awards Gold Medal. A Language Arts Coach with a Ph.D. in Reading Education, Kathleen lives in Oakmont, […]

Accidental Drive to Mexico

Today we feature another of our fab WU finalists for the Unpubbed Writer position. Kristan Hoffman isn’t just a terrific writer (she was a quarter-finalist for the Amazon Breatkthrough Novel Award), she’s one of our most loyal commenters (TY, Kristan!). We know you’ll enjoy her post about outlines, word counts, momentum, and writerly frustrations.
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A while back, urban fantasy writer Justine Musk wrote a great post about “outlines and word quotas and why they sometimes might lead to sucky writing.” While […]