writeresI once wrote a post about the Hero’s Journey structure in the movie Clash of the Titans. That post is my second most popular post (by a long shot). Clearly, structure is something we all want to learn about. It’s one of my favorite topics. Structure is the skeleton on which our entire story hangs.

In light of that, I wanted to share the most awesome resource I found. Okay, found is a strong word. Let’s try, ‘I received in a newsletter because K.M. Weiland is an awesome writer folk and I like to know what she’s talking about.’

She created the Story Structure Database. To see an example of this tool at work, check out the structure for Pride and Prejudice. (If you haven’t read it, run to your bookstore now and grab it. Yes, it really is that good.*)

From the site:

Austen begins by masterfully hooking us with her famous opening line, “It is a truth universally acknowledged, that a single man in possession of a good fortune must be in want of a wife.” The subtle irony gives us a sense of conflict from the very first and lets us know that neither the wife in search of the fortune nor the man in search of the wife will find their goals so easily.

Of course, we all know it’s a great first line. But, now we know exactly why. And we can try to accomplish something similar in our own first lines.

This database is full of books and movies, and other people can contribute. I highly recommend using this writer resource if you are having any difficulty with or just want to learn more about story structure.

Tweet: Structure is the skeleton on which our entire story hangs. http://goo.gl/C91TEz

*Link: $0.99 e-book Pride and Prejudice from Amazon.

wpid-wp-1415857899407.jpegI’ve been writing – not reading much – for the last week, which is both awesome and awful (because I got the new Anne Rice Prince Lestat book AND Susan Elizabeth Phillips’ Heroes Are My Weakness). Unfortunately, this means no Dating Advice from Romance Novels.

Instead, I decided to write about writing. When I first started, I asked for writing books as birthday and Christmas gifts and scoured the internet for someone to tell me how to write. I’ve since learned that the process of writing is extremely personal. My way is my way. And there is a very specific way that works for me, but I know it wouldn’t work for everyone.

I also learned that there’s no one place to learn everything needed to be a good writer. However, there are some extremely good sites (a lot of which I’ve noted here) and some great books.

GMC

The book I think I learned the most from, that made everything click into place, that made me a better writer, is GMC: Goal, Motivation, Conflict by Debra Dixon. I’ve written about it on this site before, so I won’t detail again why it’s integral to writing except to say that you can do almost anything with a character who has legitimate, realistic motivation. Characters have to make sense as people. And people do everything they do for a reason.

The Writer’s Journey

Next, THE book on structure – The Writer’s Journey by Christopher Vogler. One only needs to look at nearly any Disney movie ever made or the Star Wars (Original) to see that storytelling is universal. We need to see certain things happen. I’d never say this is a rule book that must be followed. But I do believe it’s essential to understand before drawing your own road map, the plot, to get from beginning to end.

Emotional Thesaurus

I also could not write without the Emotional Thesaurus. The authors of this book began with a site of the same name. When I went back and realized the wonderful material from that site had been added to and then turned into a book, I bought it without a second thought. The organization of the book makes it easy to use. What feeling is your character experiencing? Look it up and see how he or she might show that feeling physically and what might be going through their mind. This makes for a compelling, realistic way to SHOW the experience rather than tell it. It also helps you write a tight story, in which every word does double or triple duty. And that’s essential.

I hope that these books give you some direction and inspiration, as they have for me.

Tweet: “Three books I could never write without.” | Essential Reading for Writers bit.ly/1xPKbeH

Photo used with permission from stock.xchng. Photo by: Nh313066.

One of THE best writing articles I’ve ever read:

Simply put, in every social interaction, one person has (or attempts to have) more of a dominant role. Those in authority or those who want to exert authority use a collection of verbal and nonverbal cues to gain and maintain higher status. But it’s not just authority figures who do this. In daily life all of us are constantly adjusting and negotiating the amount of status we portray as we face different situations and interact with different people.

Novelists have the daunting task of showing this dynamic of shifting submission and dominance through dialogue, posture, pauses, communication patterns, body language, action and inner dialogue.

How to Raise Your Characters Above the Status Quo | WritersDigest.com.

Just… go read it. Print it out. Tape it to your wall.  It’s that good.

When available, the author link goes to their Twitter page. If I tell you who linked me to the article, it’s so you can follow those clever people on twitter. Because I love twitter. And you should, too.

When available, the author link goes to their Twitter page. If I tell you who linked me to the article, it’s so you can follow those clever people on twitter. Because I love twitter. And you should, too.

How to write women if you aren’t one, the best movies about writers, and famous writers get their revenge by noting how many rejections they received.

When available, the author link goes to their Twitter page. If I tell you who linked me to the article, it’s so you can follow those clever people on twitter. Because I love twitter. And you should, too.

I was right.  Also, a whole bunch of info on how you’re querying and storytelling: you’re doing it wrong.  Well, maybe not you.  But a lot of people are.  And, how will I know if he really loves me…. no, wait.  That’s Whitney Houston.  How will I know if I found the right person to critique my writing?  Better.

When available, the author link goes to their Twitter page. If I tell you who linked me to the article, it’s so you can follow those clever people on twitter. Because I love twitter. And you should, too.

Busy week, so a little light on links today.  But, bonus!  I’m going to share more info on each link.  You’re welcome.  And through the wonders of the WordPress, I am away at a training as this post goes live.  In fact, I’m probably in class right now. Technology is kind of bad ass.

The point is, I can’t tell you how to succeed. But I can tell you how not to: Give in to the shame of being rejected and put your manuscript—or painting, song, voice, dance moves, [insert passion here]—in the coffin that is your bedside drawer and close it for good. I guarantee you that it won’t take you anywhere. Or you could do what this writer did: Give in to your obsession instead.

Think of it like a dating website, but ‘The One’ is your perfect critique partner.

-Ly Verbs: It is incorrect to connect a pair of modifiers with a hyphen when the first modifier ends in “ly.”
Punctuation: Commas and periods always go inside quotation marks; colons and semi-colons go outside.

There will be times when writing becomes a struggle. There will be setbacks and disappointments. Fatigue will set in. Writing a book is a delightful chore, but it is a chore nonetheless. There will come times when only your original fervor will pull you through.

When available, the author link goes to their Twitter page.  If I tell you who linked me to the article, it’s so you can follow those clever people on twitter.  Because I love twitter.  And you should, too.

A lot of good links this week from writing sex and dialogue to eReaders–good or bad? to sexism in reviews.

  • How To Promote Your Book – Politely by Derek Haines (via Jynnipher Olbert and Allan Douglas): Tips on promoting your book without making people hate you.
  • You Can Stuff Your Mary Sue Where the Sun Don’t Shine by Zoë Marriott: What a Mary-Sue character is not (any girl that annoys you), what it is, and a plea to stop the gender hate-on by using this phrase.
  • Guest post by Kristen Lamb on Scene Antagonists and Big Boss Troublemakers @ Adventure’s in Children’s Publishing blog: A LOT of manuscript problems can be traced back to an unclear antagonist.
  • Guest post by author Liz Borino on Writing Natural Dialogue @ It’s All About Writing: What dialogue should be doing and how to make it happen.
  • When available, the author link goes to their Twitter page.  If I tell you who linked me to the article, it’s so you can follow those clever people on twitter.  Because I love twitter.  And you should, too.

    Twice a week, I’m going to post the very best content I’ve found online. On Monday, you’ll get my best writing finds for the last week.  On Friday, the stuff that amuses, confuses, or maddens me.

    When available, the author link goes to their Twitter page.  Because I love twitter.  And you should, too.