Goal + Motivation + Conflict =…

July 25, 2012

In going over what I learned at the workshop in Kansas, I keep coming back to something that I heard about on a Storywonk podcase – Goal, Motivation, and Conflict. It’s a good concept about how to make your narrative craft better, and I think that’s where I need to be focusing some of my attention in what’s left of this summer, possibly in connection with Camp Nanowrimo August. But I’m also not sure where to go or what to do to hone that aspect of my craft.

I’ve done a Google search on those terms, and found a bunch of interesting stuff, but unfortunately a lot of it seems to be pretty superficial – defining the terms, going into a few details about how to use them, but stopping at a screenful of information – which is about the right level of info to absorb in a blog post, but most of these places all have just about the same screenful, which is frustrating when I want to dig deeper. For the record:

  • Goal – what your character needs to have, concretely.
  • Motivation – why he needs it, on a more personal level.
  • Conflict – who or what prevents him from getting it. (Or her.)

Have you heard of these terms? Can you suggest a course that I can take, or a website where I can really delve into the mysteries of GMC, preferably with exercises and worksheets and lots of crunchy examples? 😉

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Workshop is drawing to a close…

July 4, 2012

How’d that happen? I feel like it was only yesterday that I showed up here at Krehbiel Scholarship Hall, dragging my suitcases behind me. It can’t have been a week and a half already!

I’ve learned a lot and had a blast, met some great new people, learned a lot about my craft and my stories, and I’ve started planning for the trip back to Canada – which is going to be a little bit crazy, since I need to get picked up by the airport shuttle at (gulp) 4:30 am on Friday.

And I’m both excited and daunted by the fact that I’ll be charging directly into the Polaris convention experience, instead of going home, once I return to Canada! 😉

Certainly getting my money’s worth on vacation days, at least.

How’s your summer going?


Campaigner Spotlight – Kaylie Austen

March 6, 2012

Good evening, Campaigners! As the Campaign winds into its fifth week, the spotlight shines down on Kaylie Austen.

Who would you go to if you desperately needed help?
My husband, hands down.

What have you learned from writing?
A lot! Most of it can be summed up by three words: perseverance, skill, and organization. I keep writing, querying, editing, and marketing to build my brand. Along the way, people have pointed out key issues with my writing, such as passive verses active, redundancy, 2-dimensional characters, etc. The more I write and incorporate these new skills, the better my writing becomes. Organization is needed in three major areas: plot, have to keep the storyline seamless, consistent, and believable; querying, there are a ton of agents and publishers, but we have to keep up with them and their world if we want to break into it.; organization also applies to time-management.

What’s your beverage of choice for a writing sprint?
Thai iced tea, readily available from the local bubble tea place.

What advice would you give to all your fellow campaigners?
Keep working on your craft. Learn by reading novels in your genre and keeping up with successful authors to see how they do it, ie: queries, hooks, revisions, etc. If you hit that brick wall and decide you can’t keep fighting, the grief isn’t worth it, it’s okay to give up. Know this: if you’re a writer, nothing will keep the ideas away. Quit now, the writing bug will get you again. There’s no shame in taking a break, that is, if your muse has mercy on you.

My blog details my adventures in writing, from the first spark of a new storyline to editing to querying to cover release, and all the things I’ve learned along the way. I hope someone will find value in my experiences and learn from them. My blog is also a way of explaining that writing and getting a novel on the bookshelf is not quick and easy. It takes a lot of dedication, hard work, sacrifices, and a level of humility. Also, I rant about upcoming releases and random things that make life great.

Thanks for joining us, Kaylie!


Holly Lisle Revision update – lesson two

December 19, 2011

So, I’ve fallen a little behind on my Holly Lisle course, because of trying to keep up with some other stuff going on, but I think I’m nearly finished with my week two lesson. Week two is all about Promises:

  1. The seven big promises that all fiction writers are making by giving their work to readers. (I like #6: ‘If I put something in the story, I will put it there for a reason.’)
  2. The specific promises that you intended to make and keep when you set out to write this book.
  3. All of the promises that you didn’t realize you were making by writing three paragraphs about something cool that occurred to you while you were writing your first draft – probably during Nanowrimo. Unfortunately, they also look like foreshadowing about something that’s never going to happen.

A lot of the worksheets for this week had to do with #3, the ‘Unplanned promises’ – which could turn into something that would make your book a lot better, if you find a way to deliver on those promises. There’s also some work on the planned promises of your major characters, which I’m feeling a little iffy, including the question “Why should your reader care about this character?”

But I finished those ‘character refocus’ sheets, and I think that I’m almost done going through the book looking for unplanned promises for characters. I’ve only reached the half-way point by pages, but you only look at a character’s first scene, and the new character introductions have been coming less frequently once I’m out of the third act.

I’m not quite sure where this course is going to take me, but I’m learning new things already.


Revising with Holly Lisle update, Lesson One

December 8, 2011

So, the first read-through of “Children” is going pretty well. I’m up to page 78 out of 123, and hoping to finish the Despair worksheet tomorrow night at Starbucks Runnymede in Toronto!

This is the biggest part of the first lesson, mostly because it involves the full manuscript read-through. The idea is that you look for five different things as you read:

  1. Ideas that didn’t work well or fell apart as you were writing them.
  2. Characters that work for the book, or don’t.
  3. Elements of the setting that work well, or poorly.
  4. Places where you find yourself skimming as you read.
  5. Places where the story is working and you enjoy it as you read.

So for each of those spots, I write down a little code in hot pink pen in the margin of the page, and make a note in my excel spreadsheet. The code indicates that it’s worksheet 1B, with another letter a through e for each of those five cases, and a numeric suffix to indicate the spreadsheet line.

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