Monday, April 5, 2010

What's your problem?

I hope everyone had a great weekend. The weather was beautiful here so we soaked it in.
Great job to Kelly for holding such an awesome blogfest.  I hope to take part in another one soon.
Thank all you guys for you kind comments and helpful feedback.  It's helping me become a stronger writer.

Last week, after my post on my 100 follower contest (click here to enter--ends 4/7) I saw a comment from the author Les Edgerton. I was so honored and excited. As you know, I am giving away his book, Hooked, as one of the prizes in my contest. Mr. Edgerton posts are extremely helpful.  Each post is a lesson that can help all of us.  He even provides exercises for you to try.

So on that note, I decided to briefly discuss something that I have learned from the book Hooked. All the information is from Mr. Edgerton's book--Hooked. I think I just said that twice but I want to make sure you know that this is where the information came from.

Writing my current WiP is a complete learning experience. I didn't make an outline before I started I just wrote it. I guess you would consider me a panster (I write by the seat of my pants). Some of you may do this, some of you may think I'm crazy but it seems comfortable to me. Reading the book Hooked has been very helpful though. It has helped me dive into the inter-workings of my MC. Below are a few things you may want to think about for your protagonist.  I'm not a teacher so I don't have a lot of examples.  If you have any questions on this either wait to see if you win this book on Thursday or go and buy it. You will not be dissappointed.

Think about this first before writing your next story--understanding your protagonist's story worthy problem.

 The story worthy problem relates more to the protagonist's inner psychology.  It's a problem that must change the protagonist's world which forces him on a journey of change. This problem must be hinted at in the first chapter and carry through the entire story until it is resolved in the end. 

This is different than surface problems.  Surface problems are just little bumps in the road that reflect the story worthy problem but don't have enough meat to sustain an entire story.

All of these items are put into motion by the inciting incident. This is a dramatic scene that pulls the reader in to understand and grasp the protagonist's emotion.  This is not to be confused with a melodramatic scene.  You must provide drama which equals to conflict. But don't confuse conflict with melodrama.  For example, many writers start their stories with a physical scene --like a car crash, fight, etc. This may develop into melodramatic scene. Drama is more the heart and soul of an individual --the psyche. Melodrama is more superficial and external.

Boy, do I need to pick through my MC's brain.

So have you thought about any of these topics for your protagonist?

Are you more of an organized writer or a panster?

See short and sweet.  It's Monday people cut me some slack.  Mr. Edgerton describes these topics much better than I do and he actually touched on this on his site over the weekend.  I just thought I would share.

Check out the awesome contest Roxy from a women's write is having. If you don't- her muse, Daniel Craig, may hunt you down with gun in hand. ends 4/16.

Have a great day!


  1. I can't seem to stop being a panster! Even after finishing my first draft and knowing I'm on the way to a sequel I realize that I can't help it no matter what I do trying to plan it by an outline is just crazy talk! I like to deal with the problems as they arise, I know it requires more editing but it's something I'd rather do and let the idea flow and work everything out rather than outline something that I haven't had happen yet!

    Happy Monday!

  2. I like being a pantser. That way I get surprised by crazy ideas that would never have happened otherwise. My imagination can't run if it's locked to an outline. But through that my stuff still tends to follow the rules. When I read that advice I realized my story follows most of it, good news. Now I just need to pick apart the rest.

  3. I'm definitely a pantser. I jot down snippets of dialogue or little twists I'd like to do on post it notes at work, then bring home my stack. I do a chapter at a time as a single file, and consider it a sort of mini-story within the story. It has a beginning, a climax, and an end. It's similar to short story writing for me, as I write a short story in one sitting, so I write a chapter in one sitting. These chapters can be small, and later, when making it into one file called 'book of awesome' (kidding) I might change the chapter breaks and go from 35 chapters to 26 or something, for pacing reasons. So there you have it: Christi's crazy way to write a book. :-)

  4. I have very rough outlines, basically:

    Story opening, character building

    Reaction to mini-climax, character building, etc.

    Reaction to mini-climax, upping the stakes, increasing the tension, character building


    It's the best way for me, because it lets me get a handle on the story, but it's not confining at all. Oh, and I should mention that I usually write this scene AFTER I've pantsed either all or a good chunk of the story, so I have a great feel for the characters and their motivation.

    Crossing my fingers for the contest! ;-)

  5. Excellent information in this post! I'm a character-driven writer, so fleshing out the protagonist's inner conflict, the thing that drives her to act and react in ways that hold her back, is what I love to do.

    My MC learned as a child that the worse case scenario can come true when she witnessed her older sister's death. Now, worrying about and preparing for the next great catastrophe takes her focus away from living and enjoying life. This dilemma is revealed in the first chapter and begins her character arc journey that is resolved by the last chapter of the book.

    I'll look for Hooked. How cool that the author commented on your blog!!!!

  6. Great post! I am a plotter and it's impossible for me to write spontaneously. I always start a story with a detailed plan when it comes to plot and setting and events. But although I have a rough outline for my characters, they usually take a little time to develop :) I don't know exactly what they're like until I begin writing, so I guess the story takes me there. Thanks for sharing the contest!

  7. I start at the beginning and write my way through. However, I often think of a scene that will take place at a later point and quickly jot down that outline, then refer to it when I come to the scene.

    My current WiP follows a 8 point structure: set-up, catalyst, turning point, things get worse, mid-point, dark moment, resolution. There's a great site with all kinds of plot outlines (which I used to define mine) -

  8. Great post, great info. And how very cool that the author commented. :) I'm currently trying to give up my pantsing ways with an outline. We'll see how that works. :(

  9. You know I'm pretty much a pantser, but I do like to know how my story is going to end. That's key for me. I like all this info you've put on here, lots and lots for me to think about :)

  10. I was a panster then I tried an outline. I'm not sure which way I like to write best.

    Awesomesauce that Mr. Edgerton showed up on your blog!

  11. Great post! Thanks, Christine.

    I'm part plotter, part pantser, if that's possible! I plan enough to get the overalll shape in my mind, then sometimes see where it takes me. Otherwise I stress too much!

    How amazing is it that Les Edgerton commented on your blog!

  12. Awesome post, Christine. I'm definitely a plotter, but I've been known to experiment outside of my outline here and there.

    I love what you posted about characters' inner psychological conflicts. I am all about that. To me, the change that a character goes through from beginning to end is more important than the external incidents.

  13. I'm a "I don't know what I am-er" LOL. I tend to flip flop from pantser to organized. I guess I just can't be labled. :)

    I have to get that book!!! And how cool is it that he commented on your post?! So cool!!

  14. I just won Hooked on Falen's blog last week - I can't wait to read it, it looks fantastic!

  15. I love Hooked AND Les Edgerton's blog. The man is brilliant and hilarious. He's quickly becoming one of my favorite author experts. :-)

  16. How wonderful that Les Edgerton commented on your blog! I found Hooked to be extremely helpful, and so anytime people are looking for a writing advice book, I always mention it. His surface problem vs. the story worthy problem was very helpful. Karen G (Coming Down the Mountain) had a post last month about it and I used Edgerton's Thelma and Louise example.

  17. I'm mostly a "pantser" - love that term BTW - but I do know what's coming down the pike in the next few chapters, so I have some kind of direction when I sit down to work on my WIP.

    Great post! Thanks for sharing this entry.

  18. I'm a total pantser, and sometimes I have a hard time getting to know my MC until the second time through my MS. That's when I really get to know them, when I'm ripping the story apart and stitching it back together again.

  19. HOOKED is a great book. I've had it on my shelves for a few years. I just read a great article in RWR's April Magazine about writing into the mist: therein is the rub: are we pantser, plotter or inbetweener writers?

    I am in the middle, leaning to the left or the right of the writing line depending upon where I am in my process.

    Oh, the joy.

  20. I like being a pantser, but I always think about the plot arc and the emotional arc of the story before I begin writing.

    The book sounds amazing--I'll need to check it out!