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Knowing Where I'm Going
Category: Writing
Tags: plot structure writing

I often lament about how long it takes me to get anything written during the short chunks of time I have available each day. Since my time is limited I need to make the best use I can of it. The one thing that Iíve found most helpful when Iím writing my first draft is to have the story plotted before I start writing. Then I have a map to keep me going in the direction I want to go.

I first thought about how important plotting was after reading How I Went From Writing 2000 Words A Day to 10,000 Words A Day by Rachel Aaron. The key point she came back to over and over was that you canít increase your writing output in a productive way without knowing where your story should be going. The lesson was invaluable to me.

Once I had decided that I would outline my plots before I started to write I needed to know how I should structure these plots. Iíve read a few books, blog posts and other instructional materials on outlining a plot and ended up with too many choices. Thereís the three act structure which consists of the set up, a conflict and a resolution to the problem and then thereís several plot structures that have varying numbers of points in the story arc. Most of these arcs include a set up, inciting incident, rising action, conflict and resolution. Often the theories are saying much the same thing but the whole thing does get a bit confusing.

The one that I find the easiest to remember and use is the Four Part Structure. Itís not radically different from any of the other theories Ė I just find it succinct and easy to grasp.

Below Iíve paraphrased the basics of Storyfix.comís explanation of the Four Part Structure:

The set up is exactly that. It sets up who the characters are and what the problem is.

The second part is the response. This is where the main character responds to the inciting incident in the first part of the story. Depending on the length of the story, there may be one or more attempts to solve the problem but the character isnít successful and itís not clear yet whether or not he will be.

The third part is the attack. The character finally figures out what needs to be done and attacks the problem in an effective manner. The problem still isnít solved but the character is on the right track.

The fourth part is the resolution. The character finally accomplishes what he needs to do to solve the problem.

Thatís just the basics of it. You can read the detailed explanation on Storyfixís website.

What plot structure do you use? Or do you plot before you write?

This Week On Writers Abroad
Category: Site News
Tags: writing

This is the last week of 2014 and weíre in the middle of the holiday season so things are a bit quieter than usual on WA but there are still some writerly things happening.

Monday Muse Ė Jo has set a couple first sentences, as well as the theme ĎHow Time Stopped Around Youí, to get us thinking. She has also provided two intriguing images, including a headstone that has a link to Christmas.

Blog Ė Crilly shares some interesting information about health and writing with us.

Bragging Stool Ė Vesna holds the stool uncontested this week. She was hired for her first copywriting job by a hotel in Toronto.

Anthology Genres: Thereís one week left for you to weigh into the discussion about which genres (non-fiction, fiction, poetry) the next anthology will include. If you havenít voted on the forum thread, please vote by Monday, 5th January.

The January Challenges have been posted. There are a variety of competition opportunities, including contests looking for longer entries.

Itís the time of year again for reflection and goal setting. Our Writing Goals 2015 forum is now open for you to lay bare your soul and commit yourself to your writing goals for the coming year.

Our next informal chat is on Sunday, 11th January.

Best wishes to all our members for a bright year ahead in every aspect of your lives and lots of writing success. Itís a few days early but Happy New Year to all WAers!

In A Couple Sentences Tags: taglines writing resources novels

Can you describe your novel in a couple lines? Itís not easy to sum up a book in such a short space and also encapsulate the flavour of it but thatís what authors have to do when marketing their novels. Itís called a tagline and I had to write one last week for the novel Iím currently working on. I jotted down lots of ideas and possibilities, re-wrote them and tried again, looking for what would help to sell my novel to the agent I was scheduled to meet at the Historical Novel Societyís conference in London last weekend.

Taglines are often used on the covers of books or as the heading for the back cover blurb to entice readers. The idea is to draw in the reader and make them want to read more. I know it works because when Iím browsing in a shop or online I have to pick up a book that has an interesting tagline and find out more. ††

It works and looks effortless, but it isnít easy to write. It has to do a lot in a short space: it needs to provide a sense of what and who the book is about concisely.

It also needs to convey a sense of the setting, mood or tone, and theme of the book as well as defining what genre it is. So the wording has to be chosen carefully to provide not only information but also to create the atmosphere that will appeal to the type of reader who will likely enjoy the book. Add an emotional punch that grabs the reader and it will be a winner.

When I set out to write my tagline I googled information on how to write one, as well as examples to help me concoct my own. Thereís a lot written on the topic but the recurring theme seems to be that a tagline should be clear and simple. Multi-syllable words arenít necessary or desirable. It should be easy to understand so the reader gets the message. Thatís what writers must aim for.

Taglines make me think of water-filled snow globes, the ones that have a tiny scene inside and when you shake them tiny snowflakes fall on the scene. You look into them and see a tiny world inside a glass ball. If a tagline is well written it brings an image of the story to life in the readerís mind and makes them want to step into that world.

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