Okay. You asked for it. I have a published writer friend who writes what he calls Palindrome Novels – He writes in Scrivener and writes the beginning, then the end and then works his way, a chapter at each end at a time, toward the middle. Yes, he outlines first. But he finds that he gets less surprises from his characters this way. While I am envious, I have NO idea how to make something like that happen!
I love this summit!! I think it would be helpful if someone spoke on how to govern plot between multiple points of view.
OOOh, Patty, I like this.
It is often the business end of writing that can be the trickiest part of being a writer.
Were you able to attend the Escaping the Plot Forest summit?
If yes, I recall Joseph Nassise’s talk,
(22minutes into his lecture, Using Story Structure to Emotionally Connect to Your Readers)
Joseph had some brilliant techniques that hit the elevator-pitch, ball right out of the park, by using this formula for a premise statement.
[book name] is about [character info] who must [goal that needs to be achieved]
in order to [stakes and opposition].
If you missed that summit and are interested you can find author/writing coach Joseph at https://josephnassise.com/
I agree. An Updated Query Package. Most of what’s online, even if it’s only 2-3 years old, feels a little dusty. I just went through a workshop where we were shown two vastly different types of synopses. What niether of these speakers mentioned was one was that one was based on the Hero’s Journey, the other on the 3-Act structure. Would also love to see someone synopsize an original story, not a movie/book that’s been out for decades.
Kathy Ver Eecke might be good if she agreed to talk. She runs a very successful coaching program for finding agents, query letters, synopses and learning to pitch (e.g. for Twitter pitch fests, etc.).
For character building, especially those characters who are totally different from youself, Claire Taylor (FFS Media) on Enneagrams and how to use them to figure out how your character would react to something. It may be that the character would react differently than yourself, but still be a believable scenario. Using the enneagram methodology, you avoid all your characters being too much like yourself (I assume most of us tend to say “how would I react (or like to react) if placed in that situation”, but it’s not always appropriate – consider a killer’s motives and reactions).
Welcome to the group, it’s great to see you here.
Angeeee Welcome, so glad your in the group. Excellent ideas, too, that’s always so tricky.
Welcome back to the group it’s good to see you again.
Evil Villans by Sacha Black, big YES.
Hello Donna-mae, welcome to the group.
@Danielw is the best person to answer this question, but I do recall some sound wise audios in the past.
Hopefully more will be made available, I too, love the audio access options.
I see what you mean.
I think it’s almost a default setting to reflect our own perspectives onto our characters in their situations.
Over time I have begun to feel like a lack of diversity in portrayal of my own characters, due to this very issue.
Has anyone else struggled with this?
Getting in to a characters head with different sounding voices can be a challenge.
Thank you, Kas, for sharing this info.
Claire Taylor’s (FFS Media) on Enneagrams sounds like a valuable tool for achieving organically authentic tones in unique voices when creating characters.
I am going to look her up now.
Does anyone else have tools they like to use for variety in the voices of their characters?
(Sometimes when reading Stephen King, I’m sure, I hear Stephen talking in place of a character. He can be brash, raw, and quirky when speaking, plus his favorite phrases pop up. It’s hard to miss the Master-of-horror’s own meter of speech where ever it may appear. Always makes me smile. Still, it does pull me from the emersion in the character. Anyone else catch those rare moments in their favorite authors reading?)
I remember going to a middle management workshop (yawn, but necessary at the time) in which we were encouraged to see things from different people’s perspectives, despite being “in the same place”. We were asked to imagine being in a room of a tall building that took up the entire floor, windows to each side (north, south, east, west). We’d been invited to decide how best to decorate the room, to harmonise with our surroundings. Obviously we were all in the same room, same conditions (hot/cold/humid/dry/etc.), but we each faced a different direction. Then we had to describe what we would do next, based on what we saw outside the window. This analogy, that our outlook on life (and therefore our choices and reactions) is different depending on our personal perspective, was so strong that I still recall the exercise to this day (roughly 30 years later). It has helped me to consider that people think and react differently to the same stimuli than myself. But I still struggle to understand or predict how differently another person may react.
In writing fiction, not only do we need to predict how someone will react to the situations we put them in, but it must be believable. The thoughts and actions we give our characters must be true to the personalities, character traits, emotional wounds, and background that we give them. I took Claire Taylor’s masterclass on Enneagrams for Character Motivation earlier this year (https://www.ffs.media/enneagram-motivations-workshop). I had to think long and hard about the price as I don’t have a lot of free spending money, but I can say that it was 100% worth it. I’ve heard that she doesn’t have another enneagrams class lined up, so if she agreed to speak at Daniel’s plotting and planning summit, that would be “awesome”. I’d probably even get up at 2am (I live in New Zealand) just to listen to her speak again on the subject, live.
Robert McKee has a new book out, so he might be interested in promoting it.
@Kas I like to use the Myers Briggs personality types in conjunction with Enneagrams. It gives depth and individuality to the characters. For what it’s worth, I am an INFJ with an Enneagram 6.
Here’s an interesting article on the correlations and differences of the two: https://www.psychologyjunkie.com/2019/12/02/myers-briggs-and-the-enneagram-whats-the-same-and-whats-different/
I love that you use that depth of detail for your characters. (Interesting article, by the way.) I’ve seen in one of the recent updates in Plottr that they’re now enabling the use of both Enneagrams and Myers Briggs attributes in their software, but I don’t know nearly enough about Myers Briggs to use that system. I barely know much more about Enneagrams - only what I learnt from Clair in her online class. But I’m fascinated with both.
The aspect that I particularly liked about using Enneagrams for the characters is to show how, as the character arc develops, they can move up or down the ladder within their E-type; showing how a tragic character, for example, would react as they descend into the unhealthy ranks of their E-type, which might well be different from how I would react … maybe. Can you use the Myers Brigg system in such a way, or as an adjunct? I can imagine that the two together would almost write the character for you—very powerful.
When I took the Enneagram test, I came out marginally strongest as a Type 5 (6 points), but with “4-point wings” on both sides, and 5-point scores each for Type 1, 3 and 9. I can’t figure out how that can be—spread out too widely. Perhaps it means I wasn’t entirely honest when responding, or maybe that I don’t really know myself well enough to respond genuinely. Who knows, but I am fascinated by the whole thing. As far as writing characters, I can be a lot stricter in making them “follow the rules”. Lol.
It’s been lovely to hear someone else is interested in these techniques for writing characters.
These ideas are very intriguing,
I wonder about…how does one know when is the right time to send the query letter?
I know some writers send them without having written a word yet on said subject in their query. They use responses to their query to know what projects are in demand before putting the work in. Others have completed manuscripts good to go before submitting queries. I would be very curious to know when and why folks would choose either approach and then of course the different options like Daniel_0227 mentioned.
This sounds intriguing. A great way to break down to the defining behavior traits as a solid base to build on.
I would definitely be interested in a course on these two used together with instruction on what kind of characters typically/universally fall into each category, like a cheat sheet for quick reference.
The folks from World Anvil did a really, really good session at one of Daniels previous events. There’s a blog on their site with some useful material freely available. Members get webinars and bonus material if I recall (haven’t signed up myself, suffering Covid-finance-crash).
I’m navigating the same issue, trying to balance:
- the ‘iceberg method’ where the bulk of your built world sits below the waterline out of sight of the reader
- ‘drip-feed irrigation’ where you trickle out world details in small droplets (no massive infodumps)
- ‘less is more’ cutting all but the essentials to keep up the pace
- ‘infiltration’ where you introduce key facts to set-up a payoff later in the plot.
I’m now thinking I need to write a blog post to clarify my thinking…
This good stuff to know. Doesn’t get better than “freely available material”
Awkward moment when …
The bane of writers everywhere. I’m so glad you said it (figuratively) out loud.
I suddenly feel less awkward and alone in the world for having read this.
Btw, that would make an awesome T-shirt
“I’m now thinking I need to write a blog post to clarify my thinking…”
Sorry @Kas, that it took me so long to get back to you. I haven’t been online much for the past several days. I’m glad you found the article interesting. Here’s another article explaining the Myers Briggs personality types more in-depth: https://www.verywellmind.com/the-myers-briggs-type-indicator-2795583. I find that understanding the differences between the types gives me insight into what different characters would do in various situations. It can help make them more three-dimensional.