Thursday, September 10, 2009

Using Story Structure and The Writers Journey together

I am still editing and while writing and editing has been my life, (besides my 6 kids hubby and house)I have also been pondering plot. My awesome editor has asked me to revise and rewrite some things. Alot of it to make sure the plot is one solid wonderful thing. I am loving what I am doing I am learning tons and having alot of fun too.

The purpose of my post however is using some tools to get the plot of your book in publishable shape.

The first tool is Story Structure by Larry Brooks of This tool has REVOLUTIONIZED how I look at look at my MS and my writing. I'm dead serious when I tell you to go read the series of blog posts print them up and read them again and again. Print the questions he so convienently provided and use them. I promise you wont be sorry.

He describes a book as a series of four sections, and a series of points that when pre-decided will give you what you need to write what should be a publishable book.

Section one Introdouction: This is where we get to know the characters and setting, including the inner workings of the main character at least.

Next: Plot Point #1, this is the scene/experience that changes the MC's ordinary life into something completely diferent.

Section two the Reactive Stage: The MC experiences Plot Point #1 and then reacts to that point for the first half of the book. The MC is dealing with the shock of the PP#1.

Mid-point: changes the book from reactive to proactive. It's also that point where the writer can give the reader inside information that changes the readers opinion of whats going on whether the characters know about it or not.

Section three Proactive Stage: After the mid point the MC's reactive actions become active and we enter the proactive stage. The MC is circling the wagons and protecting what's left of his "ordinary" life after PP#1

Plot Point #2 this is the crisis point in the book, the last battle, the final major event. Everything comes to a head at this point. Things need to be resolved, and nothing new can be introdouced after this.

Section four Resolution: This is the end where you tie the loose ends up and make the reader feel good after taking them through the events in the book.

I'm giving you the extreme cliff notes version I strongly suggest you go and read it for yourself in its entirety. He does a much better job of it.

Second Tool is "The Heroes Journey" by Joseph Campbell The article I read that started my own study of this idea is here.

While I don't see this as solid structure like Story Structure. I believe that The Heroes Journey is good for character arc. It also draws an analogy to Star Wars in order to illustrate the certain points talked about.

First we are introdouced to the "Ordinary World" where we again see the character where they live and what they are doing.

Next our hero is "Called to an adventure". Sometimes he refuses the call, sometimes he accepts it readily. Sometimes he meets his mentor at this time too.

Next we have our "Threshold Guardians" these are events that move the character along towards the end goal which is resolution of the call to action.

As we near the end of the book we get to what is called "Approach the Innermost Cave" This is where the events start to build towards the Crisis point.

Some times you will have your MC experience a "Death and Resurection" to add tension to the story.

"The Ordeal" is the crisis point where everything comes to a head.

The last two items are "The Reward and Road Back" where the MC suceeds and he begins the road back to that origional "Ordinary World". And "Return With Elixer" Where the story has it's resolution, and leaves the reader feeling good.

Again this is the Cliff Notes version and you need to read and learn it for yourself.

As I plot my book now I use both of these tools alot. Story Structure for what needs to go where and Heroes Journey for detailes information on the characters arc in the story. Together these have completely changed how I think about my writing.

Want to test it? Read both sections and then go watch a movie you will see where each of these tools come into play within about 2 hours.

I hope this helps you as much as it has helped me.


Mary Gray said...

I'm glad you found some plot books to help you out with your manuscript! I've been working with my editor to work out the kinks in my plot. I LOVED two books: Story Structure Architect by Victoria Schmidt and Plot and Structure by James Scott Bell.

Saw you on LDS Publisher. You're rewriting and resubmitting to Valor? Good for you!! I just signed with WiDo and am LOVING their help and encouragement.

Is your editor someone with Valor or someone different?

OH your website looks fabulous, btw.

C. Michelle Jefferies said...

I love the structure from it changed the way I looked at plotting. I love it so much I sound like a salesman. LOL

My editor is a friend. She and I are working chapter by chapter to make it shine. I LOVE her! I*'m glad you got accepted by WiDo, I love to hear about sucess stories.

Thanks for the compliment on the website.

Nice to meet you.