Monday, August 10, 2020

10 Steps to Making a Story

Only ten steps? Well, if you start with the actual writing, we can probably break it into ten major ones. Let's try.

Think of these as the key moments in your story.

1. With the HOOK, your job is to grab your readers and make them read beyond that first paragraph. This hook has to be fresh and memorable. In fact it should be able take an old topic or theme and put a unique twist to it. It should plant this question your readers' minds: “What happens next?” Put that hook in your first chapter, if possible on the first page, and best of all in the first line.

E.B. White knew all about great hooks: "Where's Pa going with that axe?"

2. The INCITING EVENT is where your story kicks off. It's where the readers see the conflict. And it creates a question that as a writer you must answer at the CLIMAX of your story. There are a lot of places for this event to occur: before the story opens, at the beginning, or at least in the first quarter of the book.

In The Hunger Games Katniss, an independent girl with skills and a drive to protect others, sees her sister drawn to be Tribute in the Hunger Games.

3. The KEY EVENT puts your protagonist smack in into that plot. Let's say your inciting event was a murder. Well, that murder doesn't affect your character until you a) put him charge of the investigation b) have him enter the room and leave his fingerprints c) make him the prime suspect.

The Key Event always follows the Inciting Event--the sooner the better.


The First Plot Point comes at the end of the "First Act." It signals the beginning of "Act Two."  Here's where your character's usual world changes. You've already set up what's normal for this character, you've shown what his world looks like (setting), you've introduced your important supporting characters, and you've made the stakes clear and hopefully high. At the first plot point your character's world has shifted, maybe it has turned upside down, and now he has to deal with a whole new set of rules and issues. 

A husband is arrested for the murder of his wealthy wife and must prove his innocence.

You put this first plot point about 25% into your book. Think of this as your first quarter and you have three quarters to go.


Reaction. Reaction. And more reaction. That's what your character is busy with during this part of your story. Remember his world is upside down and he's in deep trouble, struggling to get out of it. Think about Dr. Richard Kimble in that now ancient TV series, The Fugitive. He was in act two, part one for a long time.

Think of this part of your book as leading up to half time. It should fall between 25% to 50% of your story.


Get ready for another major change here. Your character has struggled to survive in a futuristic survival game, or chased down clues to prove he's innocent of the murder. Now this character is a lot more savvy and ready to take the ball and run with it. 

Katniss uses her cunning to outsmart those who try to manipulate the games.
Dr. Kimble (after many years) now starts using better strategies for closing in on the "one-armed man."

I guess it's pretty obvious that you plunk the midpoint in the middle. This is the end of act two, part one and the beginning of act two, part two. 

Here's where your character stops being victim and turns proactive. He’s got some plans for taking charge of the situation and fixing whatever mess you've put him into.

Here's where you're heading into the 75% part of the story.


This is the last major plot point. Here's where things are going change again, and not for the better. Your character is at the crux of his situation. He has to come to terms with who he is and what's been keeping him from succeeding in whatever quest you've set out. 

This comes at the beginning of act three, again that 75% part of the book. There's a lot happening here because you're setting up for...


Here's where all those threads (main and complicating side ones) are tied up. Any conflict is resolved. Katniss saves not only herself, but her village and sets off the revolution. Dr. Richard Kimball snags the real killer.

You've come to the 90% mark in your story. You're heading into the highest peak and the moment when the book ends. 


This is an important part of the story. It gives your readers a chance to breathe and relax. They've followed the character through his trials, his failures, his self-doubts, and now they have an opportunity to see him as the changed person. Maybe they'll even glimpse a bright future. 

I guess I don't have to say this is The End.

Wednesday, August 5, 2020

The Insecure Writer's Support Group - August Edition

Purpose: To share and encourage. Writers can express doubts and concerns without fear of appearing foolish or weak. Those who have been through the fire can offer assistance and guidance. It’s a safe haven for insecure writers of all kinds!

Posting: The first Wednesday of every month is officially Insecure Writer’s Support Group day. Post your thoughts on your own blog. Talk about your doubts and the fears you have conquered. Discuss your struggles and triumphs. Offer a word of encouragement for others who are struggling. Visit others in the group and connect with your fellow writer - aim for a dozen new people each time - and return comments. This group is all about connecting! Be sure to link to this page and display the badge in your post. And please be sure your avatar links back to your blog! Otherwise, when you leave a comment, people can't find you to comment back.

The awesome co-hosts for the August 5 posting of the IWSG are Susan Baury Rouchard, Nancy Gideon, Jennifer Lane, Jennifer Hawes, Chemist Ken, and Chrys Fey!

Let’s rock the neurotic writing world!

Our Twitter handle is @TheIWSG and hashtag is #IWSG.

Every month, we announce a question that members can answer in their IWSG post. These questions may prompt you to share advice, insight, a personal experience or story. Include your answer to the question in your IWSG post or let it inspire your post if you are struggling with something to say. 

Remember, the question is optional!

August 5 question - Quote: "Although I have written a short story collection, the form found me and not the other way around. Don't write short stories, novels or poems. Just write your truth and your stories will mold into the shapes they need to be."
Have you ever written a piece that became a form, or even a genre, you hadn't planned on writing in? Or do you choose a form/genre in advance?

You set aside some precious time to write. 
You prepare a cup of delicious coffee, open your laptop and get ready to write... but you're not sure what.
 Sometimes, the first drafting should be a wild and wonderful ride, full of discovery, dreams and promises. 
Write with abandon. Go with your gut. They say that your gut never lies. Let your truth pour onto the page. 
But how do you write your truth? 
Think about this: what do you believe? What universal struggle have you witnessed or experienced? Dig deep and find your gut response concerning your experiences.
Remember that your writing matters if it's written from a place of wanting to connect. 
Once you get that right, then who knows what gems are just waiting to be shaped into an interesting blog post, a poem, a memoir, novella or a novel series!

There's still time to enter the anthology contest.

Guidelines and rules:

Word count4500-6000

Genre: Science Fiction

Theme: Dark Matter

Submissions accepted: May 6 - September 2, 2020

How to enter: Send your polished, formatted (double-spaced, no footers or headers), previously unpublished story to admin @ before the deadline passes. Please include your full contact details, your social links, and if you are part of the Blogging, Facebook, Instagram, or Twitter IWSG group.

In trying to get books to move and sell and gain some momentum, Voyagers is discounted on Amazon from $4.99 to 2.99 for the eBook from tomorrow through this Friday.

Monday, July 27, 2020

COVID19 Brought Opportunity That Helped Make Me A Working Writer

I have been writing since the ’90s. I decided to work toward earning income with my writing in 2012. Making a living the dream. I was still working full time in a day job.

At the end of 2013, I lost my job. The job search began. I had several interviews and second and third callbacks, but still, no job offers.

Around 2015 my mobility declined to the point of narrowing my job options. I started looking for remote or virtual work exclusively. Some jobs I went through all the preliminary stuff with interviews and testing but no hire. One I was hired for but then told no because they over hired.

From November 2017 to 2018, I was totally homebound as mobility continued to decline along with my quality of life in general. The constant rejection job-wise was disheartening and a bit depressing.

No matter how hard I tried, everything I tried just did not stick or work out. I had some up-and-coming prospects and hopes that just did not happen or pan out.

My self-esteem and self-worth dive bombed. I was really struggling just to get through the days. I have worked since I was fifteen years old. For the first time in my life, a lot of time had passed without me finding work.

I could no longer maintain the life I created and lived since my father died in 1990. I was putting in the work and seeing very little change for all the effort.

Investing in your writing communities.

The one thing I did do is stay very involved in my writing communities: Holly Lisle’s writing class forum since 2011, Insecure Writer’s Support Group since 2014, and Ninja Writer’s, LLC since 2016.

Another writer from the Holly forums and I started Stormdance Publications to create themed anthologies in November 2018. We have published three Grumpy Old Gods anthologies so far, with four more on our schedule to release this year into 2021.

And then there was COVID19.  

The closings and stay at home in the USA started around March 2020. The world became homebound. Everyone was forced to figure out new ways to work, socialize, and survive.

I attended a lot of Zoom meetings. I also joined Ninja Writers Academy in January 2020 and started seriously working on my novel. I began hosting write-ins with my Ninja Writers science fiction/fantasy workshop group. They started finishing their first drafts.

In the last week of May 2020, the opportunity presented itself to start my own online business.

I had decided to create a short story course. Another NWA student approached me, offering to pay me when they heard about it. They wanted me to teach them, one on one via Zoom, as I created it.

That was the spark that changed me from an aspiring writer into a working writer.

I discovered I have a knack for story development and worldbuilding. People started asking me for that service.

I added developmental coaching to my service list. I also started offering help for those who struggle with learning Scrivener via Zoom one on one too.

That began my evolution to becoming a working writer.

Ninja Writers founder and creative, Shaunta Grimes, noticed that Ninja Writers students were finishing their first drafts in our science fiction/ fantasy workshop in the academy. When she asked them they told her that my holding the write-ins had helped a lot.

She approached me to run write-ins for Ninja Writers Club & Academy working part-time for Ninja Writers, LLC. I am now part of a team of eight. Now I do a NW fiction co-working call for the club and academy on Tuesdays, a short story drop-in for academy only on Thursdays, plus the write-ins.

I am the Ninja Writers Accountability Manager. I am the fiction columnist and editor for the The Ninja Writer Pub on Medium.  Ninja Writers have many new things in the works for the end of the year and the coming year that are still in the planning stages. 

My life before COVID19 was between four walls with little face-face socialization, jobless living on a tiny fixed income that did not cover the bills. I wondered if that was all my life would ever be any more. I felt like quitting everything.

Now my life is socially full, and I am a working writer. Things are far from perfect, but these are some long time dreams coming to fruition.

I have invested in all my writing communities for years now. I continued writing.  I kept trying and chose to stay involved where I could; when COVID hit, I was able to step into opportunity.

Stay involved even when things feel hopeless. Opportunity pops up in unexpected places when you are not looking. If you don’t have a writing community to get involved in, find one. You are not alone.

Keep dreaming.
Hang on.
Never give up. 
Community matters. 
Networking is important
Do the work.  

IWSG ROCKS, insecure writers, join us!