Thanks for a great meeting, it was good to see all of you again! Since I was asked about what resources I’m using for my story plotting, here are the links:
1) Advanced Fiction Writing maintained by Randy Ingermanson
This is the first resource that I found when I started searching for online resources to help me with novel writing. Randy developed a 10-step approach to outlining that he calls “The Snowflake Method” https://www.advancedfictionwriting.com/articles/snowflake-method/ because it’s inspired by a fractal curve called “Koch’s snowflake” (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Koch_snowflake), which is built up by staring with an equilateral triangle and repeatedly adding progressively smaller equilateral triangles to it to produce a beautiful snowflake-like curve. Ingermanson’s approach alternates between developing the plot and developing characters, starting at a very high level of abstraction and gradually drilling down into more depth and detail in each successive iteration. I like this approach, but I was confused by his “three disasters” approach to developing the basic outline. I began looking for more resources to help me, and found….
2) Syd Field’s Seven-Point Story Structure as presented by author Dan Wells in a talk at Brigham Young University’s “Life, the Universe, and Everything Writing Symposium” on the 13th of February, 2010. Dan has also served as a co-host for the “Writing Excuses” podcast (https://writingexcuses.com/) since 2008. Dan’s hour-long talk is available on YouTube in five parts; the URL for the playlist is https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLC430F6A783A88697
This approach develops a story skeleton using 7 major plot milestones:
1. Hook (the characters’ initial state, opposite of the Resolution)
2. Plot Turn 1, or Inciting Incident, or Call to Action (conflict and what the characters must do is revealed)
3. Pinch Point 1 (apply pressure to characters, force them to step up and take some kind of action)
4. Midpoint (the point where the characters decide to take action to solve the main problem or defeat the antagonist, and move from reaction to action)
5. Pinch Point 2, or Dark Night of the Soul, or Jaws of Defeat (characters suffer loss, are on their own, things look very, very bad)
6. Plot Turn 2 (the characters get the “last piece of the puzzle” and figure out that they can solve the problem at hand and escape the Jaws of Defeat)
7. Resolution (the climax of the story that results in the characters’ reaching their final state, which is the opposite of their state in the Hook)
Dan’s suggested development sequence for this outline is: 7→1→4→2→6→3→5. The details are in the YouTube videos, which I found to be informative and a lot of fun. Looking for more detailed explanations on how to develop the outline, I found…..
3) Helping Writers Become Authors maintained by K.M. Weiland at https://www.helpingwritersbecomeauthors.com/
This site is a smorgasbord of information on how to plan a novel, create character arcs, write great scenes, etc. She also includes a 47-page (!) story structure database of books and movies at https://www.helpingwritersbecomeauthors.com/story-structures/ so that you can see the major plot points in a variety of works from many genres (a drop-down menu on the left side lets you pick your genre of interest). I started working my way through her posts a couple of months ago and I’m nowhere near done, but her tips have helped me make my story a lot more coherent and exciting, and I learn new things with each post. She’s also written several books on writing, including workbooks, which I am planning on ordering soon. K.M. Weiland’s basic story structure differs from the 7-point structure described by Dan Wells. I actually think that hers is more complete and makes more sense, although as I said Dan’s talk is a fun intro to the concept.
There are many more resources out there, but these are the ones I’ve used so far. As I keep finding things, I can post links and short descriptions in responses to this post.
Thanks again for the warm welcome!