How Do Plot and Scene Work Together, Part 2


What goes into a scene? All the same things that go into plot: characters, goals, conflict, and setbacks, on a smaller scale.

Scenes require action, and action comes through your character’s attempts to meet her ultimate goal (aka objective). A setback occurs when the conflict encountered obstructs the character’s immediate goal (scene goal).

In my previous example, the protagonist’s objective was [Read more…]

How do Plot and Scene Work Together? Part 1

Many writers struggle with plot, including me. We envision the end product and wonder how we’re going to get there. But much like a chef, our work has basic elements. The chef has meat, veggies, dairy, and spices. He combines these to create a delectable, unforgettable dish. The writer has characters, goals, conflict, and setbacks, and blends them to create a riveting (best-selling, we hope) novel.

At its very basic, plot is characters attempting to reach goals, but who meet with conflict and setbacks along the way. Whether you are a writer who [Read more…]

Failure or Winner?

Wow, what an experience! Is this how a marathon runner feels as she races to her destination?

NaNoWriMo-180x180-2Day 26 of NaNoWriMo has arrived. The event isn’t over, but I’ve dropped out of the race.

Do I feel like a failure? Not at all. I wrote 22,219 words. In Times New Roman, 12 pt. that number equates to 84 pages of a double-spaced manuscript. That’s 84 pages of manuscript I didn’t have on November 1. I call that being a winner.

As I stated in Lessons from NaNoWriMo, I needed some impetus to get me writing. I have to earn a living like everyone else. Like every writer, I have to make time to write.

Where to Start

  • Make the decision to do it.
  • Examine the time you have available to you to write.
  • Set a realistic writing goal, yet one that will challenge you as well. Can you commit to one hour five or six days a week? Does a word count work better for you? You may have to experiment at first to find what works best for you.
  • Se a realistic, yet challenging, goal to finish your first draft. This may be much more difficult to determine, and you may be shooting in the dark at first. Once you’ve got a month of writing completed, you can readjust your finish goal.
  • Be committed.

Like any New Year’s resolution, writing a book takes commitment to your goal and discipline to achieve it. Keep banging away at that keyboard. If you miss your daily/weekly writing goals, tell yourself “It’s okay. Today’s a new day and I’m going to start again.” Don’t berate yourself for what you didn’t get done, but regularly encourage yourself with what you have accomplished so far.

What keeps you from getting started? Let us encourage you. Share in the comments below.

Debra L. Butterfield © 2012

Creating Memorable Characters, Part 12 Conflict

Conflict. In real life, we try to avoid it, but a story without conflict is like a latte without coffee.

In part 3, we discussed your characters’ passions and goals. Start there to look for potential conflicts. Your story may contain several levels of conflict. She may struggle internally with her own fears as she reaches for her goals. Additionally, your heroine must come into conflict with the bad guy, if there is one (an external struggle). The conflict must be plausible and legitimate, not contrived.

I find Hollywood primarily sticks to external conflict; however, “Captain America” is a movie that offers conflict on multiple levels. Before he becomes Capt. America, Steve Rogers struggles internally and externally with his size. His frustration is made obvious by his readiness to fist fight and not give up. This portrays an internal and external struggle in one scene. Once he becomes Capt. America we see the internal conflict with the showbiz role to which he’s been relegated and the external battle with Red Skull.

Your character’s conflicts create a journey for her. As your story progresses, so must the conflict. Take her from point A to point B to point C and so on, meeting obstacles along the way. Each obstacle brings a setback or a victory, and change in your character for good or for bad. If she is the same in the end as she was in the beginning, she comes off as flat and less memorable.

Most stories end happy—the conflict meets a positive outcome when the good gal triumphs. But we all cope with struggles differently and not everyone comes through life’s experiences a better person. Wherever your character ends up, it should be believable and consistent with the rest of the story.

Take your characters on a journey of conflict.

Identify the conflicts in your favorite movie. Are they external, internal or both? Leave your comments below.

Debra L. Butterfield © 2012

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