Monday, October 10, 2016

Five Key Questions with Award Winning Author, K.M. Weiland

1. What are the key elements of good story structure?

There are fourteen:

1. The Hook: the opening moment that grabs reader curiosity.

2. The Inciting Event: which officially kicks off the plot and usually begins halfway through the First Act at the 12% mark.

3. The Key Event: which officially engages the protagonist in the events of the plot and which usually occurs at the First Plot Point.

4. The First Plot Point: which marks the end of the First Act and the end of the story’s setup in the character’s “Normal World.” It occurs around the 25% mark.

5. The First Half of the Second Act: which spans from the 25% mark to the 50% mark. This notes a period of reaction for the protagonist, in which he tries to cope with the events of the First Plot Point.

6. The First Pinch Point: which occurs at the 37% mark and is a reminder of the antagonistic force’s power and a setup for the Midpoint.

7. The Midpoint: which occurs at the 50% mark and is a moment of revelation for the protagonist as he comes into a clearer understanding of the true nature of the conflict.

8. The Second Half of the Second Act: which spans from the 50% to the 75% mark. This is a period of action for the protagonist. Armed with his new understanding, found at the Midpoint, he can now take the action right to the antagonistic force.

9. The Second Pinch Point: which occurs at 62% mark, halfway through the Second Half of the Second Act. Like the First Pinch Point, it is an emphasis or reminder of the antagonistic force and a set up for the Third Plot Point.

10. The Third Plot Point: which is a moment of seeming defeat for the protagonist and takes place around the 75% mark.

11. The Third Act: which is the final quarter of the book, spanning from the 75% mark to the end, and in which the conflict is finally resolved, one way or another.

12. The Climax: which starts halfway through the Third Act, around the 88% mark and is heralded by a final turning point that pits the protagonist against the antagonistic force in the final battle.

13. The Climactic Moment: which occurs at the end of the Climax and is the true ending of the story, the moment when the conflict is finally resolved.

14. The Resolution: which ends the story with a final scene or two to tie up the loose ends.

2. What pitfalls do most authors fall into concerning story structure?

The biggest one is definitely the idea that story structure is limiting or that it will end up creating cookie-cutter plots. That couldn’t be farther from the truth. Structure is just the box that holds the gift. That gift can be anything! What structure does is provide important landmarks within the story to guide us in shaping our tale.

3. How do you research for your historical books, such as your latest about a 1920’s biplane pilot, Storming? How does that research fit into the structure?

My research methods are usually similar for both my historical and speculative stories. I start out with a historical setting in mind, gather as many books as I can find on the subject, and start reading. Most of the time, I’ll dedicate about three months to research, before beginning the first draft.

I don’t so much choose topics as I am chosen by them. Most of my ideas start out with an image in my mind—I see a character and I see a setting, and I try to figure out where they’re at. Sometimes I may decide the story requires me to take too much liberty with actual events, and so I’ll start working on alternative fantasy worlds. With other ideas, I find I need the grounded feel of realism found in real-life historical settings.

4. What is the most important concept in How to Write Amazing Character Arcs that you’ll want writers to grasp?

If I have to choose just one, it would be that character arcs are really just one player in the three-part harmony of character, plot, and theme. They aren’t separate integers. They’re all part of the same whole. When you bring one stage, you’re necessarily bringing all three on stage. It’s important to realize that, because if you attempt to create any one of the three in isolation, the results will be choppy at best, totally incoherent at worst. Character arc is plot and theme.

5. You’ve won awards and had great success with both your traditionally published and your self-published books. What are the best things about being a hybrid author?

With the exception of my one traditionally published book (Jane Eyre: The Writer’s Digest Annotated Classic), I have published all my books on my own. I love independent publishing because you have complete control over your book (which can also be a downfall!), but this allows you more flexibility in controlling price, appearance, and marketing venues. It also allows you a far greater share of the royalties—as much as 75% compared to as little as 7% for traditionally published books. Particularly if you’re successful, that can add up fast.

That said, your book’s success is entirely dependent on you. If you’re unfamiliar with the basics of cover design, book formatting, etc.—or unable to hire a qualified expert to do these tasks for you—then you may unwittingly produce an unprofessional product that will fail to attract readers. You will also, in most instances, have less access to marketing opportunities and budgets.

K.M. Weiland lives in make-believe worlds, talks to imaginary friends, and survives primarily on chocolate truffles and espresso. She is the IPPY, NIEA, and Lyra Award-winning and internationally published author of Outlining Your Novel and Structuring Your Novel, as well as Jane Eyre: The Writer’s Digest Annotated Classic. She writes historical and speculative fiction from her home in western Nebraska and mentors authors on her award-winning website Helping Writers Become Authors.


Pat Hatt said...

Can sure be pitfalls to doing it ones self and traditional has them too. All three have to work in harmony indeed for a good story.

L. Diane Wolfe said...

Structure is important. Like boundaries, it keeps us safe.

cleemckenzie said...

What L. Diane Wolfe said. Love to have the structure.

L.G. Keltner said...

Great post! A good story structure goes hand-in-hand with great characters and a solid plot to tell a captivating story.

Susan Gourley/Kelley said...

So much great information here for writers at every stage of their career.

Joylene Nowell Butler said...

Thank you for an excellent post, KM. This is valuable and constant information that I actually still get excited about. Makes my creative juices flow when I read posts like this. Happy Thanksgiving.

Unknown said...

Thanks so much for having me today! :)

Yvette Carol said...

Succinct info. Thanks, K.M!

Michael Di Gesu said...

Lots of useful information here.... Thanks K.M.

Michelle Wallace said...

I've learned a lot from this post!
Thanks K.M.

Hilary Melton-Butcher said...

Hi Alex and KM - as the others have said ... what a useful post ... and the interesting part about publishing yourself ... cheers - thanks so much -Hilary

Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

KM, thanks for joining us!

Lynda R Young as Elle Cardy said...

I love the way you describe structure: the box that holds the gift.So true. A wonderful, helpful article.

Dean K Miller said...

Structure is the hardest part for me in novel writing. But I get the point. With poetry, the structure and format of certain poetic forms act as a catalyst for creativity and thought. If I could wrap my novel brain around that, I'd have a better chance!

H.R. Bennett said...

Fantastic! One of my major problems is always getting past the "hump" of my story.

Gingi said...

The Hook. That is what I struggle with the MOST. That and catchy titles for articles / chapters / etc... great post though, thanks for sharing! <3-

Sandee said...

You are most brilliant. Communication both spoken and written can be most difficult. You have to know the rules.

Have a fabulous day. 😎

Unknown said...

There are few How-to blogs on the net that I read all the time, and Kim's is the one I read most. She's brilliant! And I'm very glad to hear I'm not the only one who researches for 3 months before starting to write.

Unknown said...

Good Day I Am So Happy I Found Your Website, I
Found You By Mistake, While I Was Searching On Aol For
Something Else, Anyhow I Am Here Now And Would Just Like To Say Many Thanks For
A Remarkable Post And An All Round Entertaining Blog
I Don’t Have Time To Read It, All At The Moment But I Have BookMarked It
And Also Added In Your RSS Feeds, So When I Have Time I Will Be Back To Read More,
Please Do Keep Up The Fantastic Job. You can also check; error 4013