by Jenny Hansen
Today I’m sharing some rockstar writing resources — we’ll just call it an early New Year’s gift.
First up: Inky Girl, aka Debbie Ridpath Ohi. I adore Inky Girl! She does gems like this in her Will Write for Chocolate series:
Inky Girl also introduces me to amazing writing teachers like Martha Alderson, who wrote a book called The Plot Whisperer. Inky Girl’s review:
And finally, Linda Joy Myers at Memories and Memoirs, interviewed Martha Alderson and pried out the following seven questions for YOU to ask as you write:
For each scene: 7 Essential Questions of Plot:
1. Does the scene establish the date and setting?
2. How does it develop the character’s emotional makeup?
3. Is the scene driven by a specific character goal?
4. What dramatic action is shown?
5. How much conflict, tension, suspense, or curiosity is shown?
6. Does the character show emotional changes and reactions within the scene?
7. Does the scene reveal thematic significance to the overall story?
I originally came across this article because I write memoir, and it was fascinating to look at the story from Martha’s more objective point of view:
Memoir writers think they know the plot because they already know “what happened.” Can you talk about this issue a bit—is that way of thinking useful or should they revise their attitude toward plot.
Plot embodies quite a bit more than more than just what happens in the memoir or a sum of the events. Plot is how the events in the story of your life directly impact the main character or the protagonist, in other words, you.
Always, in the best-written memoirs, the protagonist is emotionally affected by the events of the story. In great memoirs, the dramatic action transforms the protagonist. This transformation makes a story meaningful.
Keep in mind that, yes, you lived the story and the story comes through you. However, when you decide to write that story down, you turn from the one who experienced the events to that of a writer. Your job, then, is to present what you have lived in a pleasing and meaningful form to the reader.
This takes setting yourself aside and means opening your mind to receive the greatest good of the story.
I don’t know about you, but that last sentence lights me on fire.
What books, bit of knowledge or writing instructor has lit you on fire lately? Is there some other question you ask, besides the seven above? What are you working on right now? It’s almost the new year, and we’re sharing here at WITS. See y’all down in the comments!
What’s Jenny up to at More Cowbell? Latest post: How Much Love Can Fit in a One-Inch Picture Frame?
Jenny fills her nights with humor: writing memoir, women’s fiction, chick lit, short stories (and chasing after her toddler Baby Girl). By day, she provides training and social media marketing for an accounting firm. After 15 years as a corporate software trainer, she’s digging this sit down and write thing.