Monday, March 2, 2015


I went to critique group yesterday, Saturday.  I've been going for over 2 years now.  I looked around and I was the ONLY person from the original group 2 years ago.  Even the person who runs the group was different!  I benefitted greatly from going.  I learned how to critique, and also got great feedback. 

But, I think I've outgrown the group.  The 'originals' have all broken off into smaller groups (me included) and in my case, I feel like splinter group I'm in is more at my level of writing.  Actually, I think they're better than my level of writing.  I think that's a good thing, as I can always be striving to be as good as the rest of them. 

Anyway, the reason I went was because the topic of the little pre-critique talk was plotting.  It's something I'm not good at.  I've rewritten my work-in-progress a number of times but always get stuck at the same place -around page 50.  I'm determined to get past it this time by trying out all the different plotting methods and finding one that I can live with.

Friend and co-critique ND came to our little splinter critique group with an outline that was five pages! And he went through multiple families and had full names, ages, birthdates for all his characters and outlined his plot so thoroughly, I felt even I could write his story based on the outline.

Maybe that is the way I should think about it:  as if I had to give instructions to another person to write my story...

So I rushed to our local indie bookstore and picked up these two books:

  1. Plot Whisperer by Martha Alderson - it looked like a length I could handle and anybody calling themselves 'plot whisperer' should probably know what she's doing, right?  that's my rationale.
  2. Ready. Set. Novel! by Christ Baty, Lindsey Grant, and Tavia Stewart-Streit.  This is a workbook with lots of blank pages and cute illustrations.  I'm a sucker for these kinds of things so I picked it up.
The person giving our mini-lecture at big critique group also recommended the following.  These are more screenwriting oriented but hey, story structure is universal.

  1. Story by Robert McKee
  2. The 'Snowflake Method' source: Randy Ingermannson (not a book but a series of lectures?)
  3. The Writer's Compas by Nancy Ellen Dodd
  4. Something called the 7 point method.  I forgot to write down the source.  I'll find it...
I will be testing these out, seeing what works for me, what doesn't. Knowing me, If it requires a lot of reading, I probably won't do it.  But stay tuned.


  1. Plotting is the bane of my life. I can come up with a premise, but find it hard to tease it out to a full length anything. (Love short stories!) I've given "Save the Cat" a go, which focused a few things, and I spent alot of time with the cork board and index cards, but ultimately felt I was shoe-horning cards/scenes in, just to say I'd got them in there.
    But it does help me, productivity-wise, to know where I am going next in the story, to actually get the words on the page. At the very least there isn't the excuse for not writing, "because i don't know what happens next."
    That said, once the words were flowing, I hit another snag, which is that if I know the story too much, then it doesnt excite me. You know when you are reading a book and you get a joy from the story unfurling? I feel I lose that in my writing ( my own joy, that is) if I know too much. So maybe a midways is the way forward in my case; a loose plot, and then seeing where it goes from there. I guess everyone is different and trial and error gets you to learn your method. I'm writing notes about it as I go along to remind myself in frustrated times in the future, as I always forget.
    Looking forward to hearign which of these books work for you, and where you get to with it.

  2. I have a problem with plotting. There are so many issues I would right about but creating a plot is so hard.

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