Saturday, May 21, 2011

Writing Your ABCs

No, no, no ... not  the A to Z Challenge. LOL. I mean using your ABCs to remember the elements of creating a great story. This is a technique from the ever inspiring Anne Lamott.

A  is for ACTION : set the scene and launch the events early

B is for BACKGROUND: put it in context, but don't let the reader get ahead of the MC

C is for CONFLICT: the MC's impetus to achieve his goal cannot be easy. The tension produced must come from the MC's desires, and be sustained by obstacles

D is for DEVELOPMENT: this is the bulk of the plot, or the journey. It should bring the MC closer to resolution and elevate suspense

E is for END: this is the final crisis when MC must decide how to resolve. This is the tipping point, the consequences after the climax. How has the MC and his world changed? The end should include the final release of tension

There, you see? Easy as ABCDE. Right? Uh, yeah, not quite. Crafting stories is darn hard. And anyone who tells you differently is probably not creating very strong stories.

Thanks for stopping by here! I always appreciate your visits and comments. Hope you're having a delightful weekend. Do you find it easy or difficult to implement this kind of structure in your stories?  I've found I prefer a formulaic way of thinking, even though I love the free creative flow just as much. Combining the two is what works best for me.

HAPPY WRITING!

37 comments:

mooderino said...

I think every how-to book has this kind of basic outline to writing. It's never that easy in the implementation though. Coming up with an interesting and unexpected (but satisfying) plot is the hardest bit for me. When are they going to make a computer program I can just put my ideas into and it just spits out an interesting storyline?

mood

welcome to my world of poetry said...

Wonderful tips, will try and remember.

Enjoy your week-end.

Yvonne.

Sophia Richardson said...

I like this, it's an easy to remember breakdown of the basic structure of a story. Thanks for sharing, PK.
- Sophia.

Liz P said...

I have to be careful with background. Sometimes it's so easy to just want to tell the reader everything. Lately that has been something I'm working with, reining in those urges to info dump or reveal too much, and just drop snippets here and there.

Old Kitty said...

Ooh I like mixing being free with the formula too!! Makes for a tastier outcome! :-)

Have a wonderful weekend too!! Take care
x

Barbara Kloss said...

Ooo I like this formula! I'm a lot like you - I have to work in formulas. Otherwise, I get SO overwhelmed I'm paralyzed.

It's also hard for me starting with action. I cut so many "early" chapters away to get to the action, and still. Weaving in the backstory is so much more difficult than it seems.

But when adjust your plot under headings like this, it ensures you don't miss anything OR do something totally wrong to the reader :D

Catherine Stine said...

Yes, yes, yes, I'm tweaking the opening of my latest novel to give a real sense of the character, while at the same time, get that inciting incident in asap. Always a big challenge!

Richard said...

Hi, thanks for checking out my blog. I'm not into YA, but it's all the same pretty much in the basics. You seem to have a lot you're working on. Good Luck.

I'm intrigued by this post. I've never followed a plan or anything like that in my writing, but I'm trying to do that more now. Hopefully, it'll help me to write more publishable books.

Anyway, nice to meet you, too. Tanya is great.

Leslie Rose said...

I like to keep a formula embedded in my head and a foundation, and then I go wild around the structure. On the rare occasion I even write the broad strokes down on a graphic organizer.

William Kendall said...

I'm in the tail end of development...

Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

I think my writing falls into that structure. And does so by accident I might add!

Tundiel said...

That's a great way to remember a good, basic structure for a story. Unfortunately I'm a writer that writes without any planning whatsoever, so while this is good to use as a checklist after a draft is written, it's of no use at all when beginning a story...

I really, really wish I was more organised. *sighs*

Dorothy Evans said...

Especially important and useful as a guide in the editing stages!

fOIS In The City said...

I agree. I start with free flowing and then go back and implement a strong structure. Can't work without either of them :)

Michael Di Gesu said...

I certainly can use a bit of structure. I am so the Pantser. Thanks for SPELLING it out for us PK.

Enjoy your weekend.


Michael

Joyce Lansky said...

I've learned that there is a huge difference between writing and writing a novel.

Joyce
http://joycelansky.blogspot.com

Margo Kelly said...

Great post ... you're so smart!! :P

McKenzie McCann said...

Oh, writing stories is something between beautiful and infuriating. Parts of a story just flow smoothly, and other times you just want to bang your head against the wall and scream at The Muses.

Aleta said...

Umm, "F is for fiction"??

Enjoyed this post. Thank you for stopping by my blog :)

Ellie said...

Awesome tips. Like you, I try to use a balance between the spontaneous writing and having a structure to follow. It doesn't always work but then you can address the ABCDEs in the re-writes!

Ellie Garratt

Nas Dean said...

Thanks for the lovely tips. Your way of taking the middle ground by combining also works for me.

LTM said...

wow. That's really good. Did you make that up? I'm so impressed... :D LOL!

I really am! <3

Madeleine said...

Great post. I like the humourous take on A-Z too.

I can't decide if I should write in a formulaic way :O)

Liz Fichera said...

Good tip for remembering the basics. :-)

Talei said...

Haha! I do like those ABCs!

Jemi Fraser said...

I like that! I tend to write intuitively and then look at my structure afterwards. Thankfully I've read a bazillion books since I was a kid so it mostly works! :)

Lisa Gail Green said...

Pantsing does trip me up sometimes I admit. But I still prefer it. And when it works, the structure is magically there. Poof! Okay I DO have to fix/revise. But in general it naturally follows structure.

kmckendry said...

I like to know the formulas but I don't follow them rigidly. I just use them as the skeleton to map out my story.

Vicki Tremper said...

That's a great reminder!

Hart Johnson said...

Definitely a helpful set of stuff to keep in mind! I am better using lists like this in the edit, as if I think to much in the first draft, I end up with constipation of the written sort... story won't flow as I've set up too many obstacles... in the REWRITE though--great stuff!

Shari said...

My biggest challenge has been making sure that each scene has goal, motivation and conflict. Hopefully I'm getting better!

M Pax said...

Yup, one of those things easier said than done. Like writing a great query. :)

ali said...

This is perfect! I love how succinct it is. And I'm like you--I like to have a PLAN but only so far as it helps me to contain the FREE-FLOW. I can't do it one way or the other, but need to combine both methods.

Pam Torres said...

I totally agree with using the formula. I've found that the creative touchy-feely creation of a story is very short lived, at least for me. I'm finding that going back and flushing out characters, back story, etc. to be far more fulfilling.

Susan Kaye Quinn said...

Having the formula helps to keep my creative mind on track. Otherwise it's likely to end up in Jersey. :)

Donea Lee said...

Oh, I wish it were as easy as A to E. But, I think you're right - creative flow combined with formulaic editing is a great approach!

Jiu Jitsu Los Angeles said...

I will say that this gives an easier look into how to outline and develop a story, though. If only it were so easy as that and 1-2-3! At least there is a start with A-E into the long and grueling process of story writing.

Sara