taleanea: Talea's default user icon. (Default)
I am so exhausted! The last two days I was so exhausted I couldn't even do the two challenges for [livejournal.com profile] writerverse (5 comments to other's stories, and QuickFic#1: two stories of drabble-length or more inspired by 5 prompts; for bonus points one stories needed to be in my favourite genre (SF)).

I should have written the stories and comments at the beginning of the week when I still had strength left! But I also still had so much time…

I need daily challenges. I might not do them daily due to life events and health, but only deadlines really get me writing. (And I mean daily challenges that are fun, not just these one word prompts! I always need more than one word to prompt me anyway.)
I want to write daily - and I do stuff for my writing daily, but having a deadline helps me to get serious and to get going. So this week I tried to design how a challenge community should look like that supports my needs and wishes best.




To my native English speaking friends: Do these community names sound good to you or somehow wrong?
- [livejournal.com profile] textward
- [livejournal.com profile] artistsguild

Textward is a word creation so I'm the most unsure about this name. It is supposed to mean something like - 'towards (the) text' or 'forward to the text' - and it is translated from my German community [livejournal.com profile] textwaerts which also is a word creation and means 'into the direction of text (words)'.
(At Textwärts we offered all kinds of activities: weekly check-ins, tutorials, some few challenges, linklists to the best writing resources we could find at that time, etc, and we revived that community two or three times but it has now lain vacant since a while again.)

Artists' Guild is a translation from my German community [livejournal.com profile] kuenstlergilde meaning "Guild of/for/by Artists". I guess that name is ok, but maybe I'm overlooking something, if so please tell me.

I have no problem to delete these comms again and create better sounding ones, so don't hesitate to critic them bluntly!



My wishes for these communities is to offer a weekly tutorial for writing & drawing skills because I want to do both - write a lot, and also start drawing and painting again.
Especially for the latter I myself need to be taught — so the tutorials will serve me in the first place. :) The hope is that they could serve others as well.
I would then use the topic of that week's tutorial as basis for the challenges so that anyone wanting to learn these skills taught in the tutorial could then practice them in different ways.

I want to offer daily challenges with a 7 day deadline during weekdays (minimum word count for the daily challenges will be 100 words, except for Haikus/Peotry, so don't panik), and bi-weekly/monthly challenges on weekends with deadlines of 14 or 30 days. - That means while the challenges do run for at least a week there will be a deadline coming up every day.

So there is time to do everything in the beginning, or to cram at the end; to do all open challenges all at once (that sounds like me), or to do a bit every day, or to only participate once in a blue moon. - I don't intend to kick anyone out; it's not a land community after all.

I wonder if I could put the challenges and tutorials and whatever activities I (or you?) might come up with into ONE community.
I mean: What if I don't split drawing/painting stuff and writing stuff into two communities in two different places, but put the daily challenges together into one post for writing and drawing (as done here), and post the weekly tutorals either on sunday (writing) AND wednesday (drawing) or bi-weekly (1st sunday writing, 2nd sunday drawing/painting).

I personally think it would be easier for me to combine them, and on my search over LJ I would have loved to find a community that allows for original works that offers challenges for both arts (writing, drawing) — but I don't know if other people would like that, too.





Also, I really strongly dislike that all the land comms are flocked so that you can only find out what's in it once you've been accepted. Usually there are no descriptions and explanations anywhere, even on the profile or FAQ pages - which is why I now feel stupid after having been admitted into [livejournal.com profile] landofart only to find out that it's not about creating art at all, it's just about googling and manipulating some photos to gain points! — How do I leave that place now without hurting anyone?

So, my communities will be mostly public. Creative works can be posted on people's own LJs or in a specific members-locked side-community (has anyone ideas for a name?).

For my German friends: I do intend to mirror these communities, their challenges, tutorials and other activities in German, too, in the respective German communities. (If it's not way too much work. But well, the good intentions are there.)





What do you think? Let's have a vote! And please tell me additional thoughts, complaints, worries and ideas in the comments!


[Poll #1865161]


Thank you so much for your input!

Talea <3
taleanea: Talea's default user icon. ([p01] Strasse)
I do a lot of things in my writing time that don't look like writing and like working on this current book (Defence). They look like playing, and like nonsense, and like I really should grow up and learn to build a house or something.
But then it all comes together - to my own utter surprise, and suddenly a plot builds itself from all the things I had just played with to avoid the actual work that I was supposed to do.
Yet, in playing, I had done the work.

This time I visited all these themed challenge communities (like [livejournal.com profile] fanfic100 or [livejournal.com profile] 100moods - scroll down the page to to Affiliates to find many similar communities), took three of those 100 prompts tables, mixed them together into another prompt table of 3 words per prompt, and thought they might be really great for short story writing.

Then I finally finished going over my plot arcs and combining them somehow. I intended to next create the big chaptered outline of about 8x8 chapters (or scenes, I'll see), because there are 8 plot points with something important happening per each of the 8 plot arcs of the novel, plus the additional scenes that I might need to help set up some of the later plot points.

I estimated that I'd need maybe about 100 scenes, or chapters, or blocks-of-text-in-which-something-happens. I just wanted to put into these blocks/chapters/scenes the descriptions of the plot points and whatever else that was supposed to happen at that place and time, but suddenly my writing program demanded a title for each scene.

… Titles? But they come last!
Which plot arc each scene will be part of is going to be shown by the scene icons (colored flags), so I didn't need to give them a technical title like "main arc, first plot point", but I still needed a title.

So I looked at what I had played with the whole time - themed challenges - and it clicked: I would use the three totally unrelated words per prompt on my very own prompt list to create weird but probably quite inspiring titles — that of course can later be changed when I don't find a way to incorporate "Amusing Cocktail Mixtures" into my story. But I guess I will find a way. This sounds way too easy.

Some of my titles therefore are now called Invisible rodeo trays and Try the Left Idiot (this one sounds GREAT) or Quick - Market the Scarf! and The Harmless Summer Volcano, or even Pending the Failed Ham. That last one I'll need to change, I fear. Or not. :D

So…
I'm done with the raw outlines. I have inspiring, if weird titles for each scene that will help me to define the setting and some of the starting action, and probably quite a few of the background characters. Which is GREAT, really. This wonderful trick comes into my novel writing blueprint. (For plotting I absolutely need a blueprint, otherwise this process would bore me to death because I wouldn't know where to start and what to do. I've been through this often enough by now and failed by never finishing any of the novels I started no matter how vivid and exciting some of the scene were that I had written. But the outlines never really worked, and then overwhelmed me with all their unclear and boring parts.)

And now that I'm done with the big parts of the set up, I'll go through the outlines again to figure out all the little things that would stop me from writing fast: plot holes, missing characters, missing character motivations, and creating all the many different small villains (oh dear, where to even start?), set up the outer (in this book AFAIK pretty irrelevant) kingdoms, some of their cities and main players, and then throw in all the details that make a world real and exciting and crazy: take the mundane of our world and shake it until we're in Wonderland.

That's my plan for next week.




Some links:

- Dean Wesley Smith: The Writing of “The Smoke That Doesn’t Bark: A Poker Boy Story”
- Plotting shortcuts: [1] and [2]
- ROW80: current sunday's Check-In
taleanea: Talea's default user icon. (Default)
It feels as if I haven't done anything writing related this last week, but I actually did slowly plot my way forward: I created all 7 plot arcs and then today realised that I might be missing one. I'm going to do that one next.

Then I will finally interlink of all 7 or 8 subplots and create the chapter outline for the story.
I expect that I will have a Sentence for every single chapter, but the details will be filled in during the writing process. Maybe.
The important thing for me is to always know what exactly is going on plotwise and what is going to happen next - but without giving me so much information that there is nothing left to discover because then I get too bored to actually write the story.

It seems that I slowly but steadily find my way through the mess that is plot creation, and by now there is not that much of a mess left; in fact it's quite orderly already. Yay for that.


For now my idea and understanding of designing plots looks like this:


Writing/designing a story

The first obvious steps: Have the initial idea, some things I want to see happening, and some characters.

Decide which subplots are needed and plot the line-up for each subplot:
- An exciting Hook (start with a bang inside characters normal life)
- Plot Turn 1/Call to Adventure
- Pinch 1/Disaster (put pressure on chara to find&apply solution)
- Midpoint/Call to Action (change from reaction to action, bring the fight to the enemy)
- Pinch 2/Second Disaster, much worse than before
- Plot Turn 2/Finding the solution and answers
- Climax/Final Confrontation with the solution taken from earlier lessons (pulling everything together)
- Conclusion/Explanations (solutions for all main charas and plot arcs)

Have enough Try/Fail Cycles to get reader invested into story:
- they show the risks
- they can look like victories while in fact delaying the real victory
- if chara tries and tries and doesn't give up, we cheer him on; we feel his victory is well-earned

Plot arcs: most stories have more than one. Design them with the above formula, then weave them all together.

Be aware of
- protagonist,
- their goal,
- the antagonist and
- why they activly try to stop the protagonist from reaching their goal,
- the story theme as stated by the 'relationship' character, and
- the specific twist of the story in the solution that makes the theme visible as theme of the whole story.

Create a chaptered outline for the whole story that contains the interlinked subplots.

And, finally, write.


The alternative, of course, is to ignore plotting and just start writing with that nice idea in mind and the two or three characters that are there in the beginning, but I can only do this with short stories, not with novels. My goal here is to design and write a novel.



- Wednesday Check-In (#3)
- Linky - Participants Check-Ins
- Other entries on plotting

- Oh, and also: I kind of liked this article: The 11 “Secrets” of Prolific Content Creators - #11 was a new idea for me that I immediately started to use. Works well!


taleanea: Talea's default user icon. ((b&w&c) Kaffee - hmmmm!)
You know what, I totally mistook one formula for the other. Some days ago I mentioned this cool formula, linked to that cool podcast, and even though I listened to the podcast again, I didn't realise that I hadn't shown the Hollywood Formula they talked about but instead something else: the 7 point plot structure from this lecture by Dan Wells.
And no one calls me out on it. Le sigh.

But since I use both formulas together it doesn't really make a difference to me. Plotting so far has always been my great writing weakness, except in these very short short stories that I sometimes write. I learned these two plotting formulas so close together and they make so much sense that they are practically one (to me at least).

So the actual Hollywood Formula has also much to do with the main characters, not just with structure of a story. Also, it is more complex than but still quite similar to Holly Lisle's Sentence or Swain's plot line up.

Lisle Story Model (the Sentence):
- Character with a need
- against
- Antagonist with a need
- with a twist.

-> Protagonist with a need versus antagonist with a need in a setting... with a twist.

(Hero: Ugly feared Oger
with a need: who wants to be accepted loved to get his swamp back
against: from ruler
Antag with need: is sent by the ruler with an inferiority complex to rescue a beautiful Princess so ruler can marry her and become King,
Twist: but when he does, falls in love with her, pisses her off and fails to realize that she herself is an Oger.)


Swain's Plot Generator:
- Situation
- Character
- Objective

- Opponent
- Disaster

-> Character in Situation with an Objective against an Opponent leads into a Disaster.

(-> When ugly Oger tries to get his swamp back from ruler with inferiority complex, he has to free the princess the ruler wants to marry, falls in love with her and due to a misunderstanding gives her up to the ruler anyway.)


Hollywood Formula (as heard on the Writing Excuses podcast)

Characters:
- Protagonist with a concrete goal.
- Antagonist with a goal that is directly opposed to the protagonist's goal; he tries to activly stop the protagonist/hero. Antagonist must have consciousness.
- Relationship Character (that's new!) basically explains to the protagonist (and the reader) how he needs to change to solve the problem, and with that spells out the theme of the movie/story.

3 Act Structure:
ACT 1: introduces charas and their goals, ends with the fateful decision that starts the adventure. (In the 7 Point Structure it is the Hook up until Plot Turn 1.)

(Ugly Oger who pretends that he needs no friends finds himself burdened with a donkey and a formerly private swamp full of other fairy tale creatures and decides to get rid of them.)

ACT 2: longest, all characters try to achieve their goals, but at the end of ACT 2 the antagonist seems to win and the protagonist reaches an utter low point. (In the 7 Point Structure that would be Pinch 2, I think.)

(He totally falls in love with the princess that he had to rescue for the ruler to get his swamp back. And then he misunderstands something he overheard, rejects her and practically forces her to marry that ruler. Very mature, Shrek.)

ACT 3: (If the story is not a tragedy —) Hero fights their way back up, pulling everything together they learned during the whole plot, overcomes the Antagonist, and wins the whole battle, creating an emotionally satisfying ending.

(But his self-proclaimed friend, the donkey, forces him to admit that he does like to have friends, if only to find out what the princess actually said: that she does love him back! So he takes the dragon and the donkey, goes to the girl, has the ruler (who still wants to marry her, if not for love, but at least to become King in an effort to get rid of his smallness issues, and who now also tries to kill the ugly Oger) eaten by the dragon to be able to marry the princess — and as a weird reward for surviving this crazy story she becomes as ugly as he is, which both don't mind bc of TRUE LOVE. The End.)


Can you see why Hollywood Formula and this 7-point plot system were to me practically the same? They just build on each other.
Of course, the best part about the YouTube videos on the 7-point system was the explanation and visualisation on how to structure the subplots and story arcs in such a way that you still have an overview about what's going on and that they actually make the story stronger by knitting the different plot arcs together.
THAT actually was the best lesson on plotting I've ever learned.



Dan Wells: Story Structure [1] [2] [3] [4] [5]
taleanea: Talea's default user icon. (malen [03])
Hook (Strong Beginning) - sad and boring life of chara -> opposite at end from climax to have room for development/to shift

Call To Adventure (Plot Turn 1) - call to adventure/into journey (sometimes 3 calls as in Matrix) - he might have already searched for a long time for thos answers and the entry point into that other world/adventures, introduction of conflict, moves story from beginning to midpoint, the characters world changes (meet new people, discover secrets, follow the white rabbit)

Disaster 1 (Pinch 1) - apply pressure on chara, force chara into action, often introduces villain

Call To Action (Midpoint) - change (from reaction to action; learn who the enemy is, what they want, and then decide to do something about it) (i.e. council of elrond: from running away -> taking the fight to sauron)

Disaster 2 (Pinch 2) - makes situation seem hopeless, even worse than pinch 1: plan fails, mentors die, everything goes irrevocably wrong so that the chara can rethink and find the actual solution

Plot turn 2 - carries from midpoint to end, chara obtains the final thing he needs to make their decision from midpoint happen, here they grab the solution from the 'jaws of defeat' from Pinch 2

Resolution (Climax) (Life of hero is opposite to hook.) Goal of the story: Everything in the story leads to that moment. Here is the victory through [means] or the failure to shield from [(formerly not available/unknown) weapon].


as seen on the presentation by Dan Wells on Story Structure podcast


This should work for short stories and novels, as well as screenplays.



EDIT: Stuff is missing. I might add it. (Not today, though.)

EDIT 2: Oh, whoops, I got it all wrong. Hah. That formula up there is actually from Dan Well's presentation On Story Structure.
The actual Hollywood Formula and the story structure system that I learned from these five YouTube videos go hand in hand and are a really cool help for plotting, so no harm done. Now to the real Hollywood Formula ... I'll explain it someday. Till then just listen to the podcast.

EDIT 3: The actual Hollywood Formula now can be found here.

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