Fantastic Friday (writing exercise)

Posted: March 30, 2012 in Scribe Scribbles
Tags: , , , , ,

This first part is for all the plot-first writers out there. Ready to stretch your writing muscles?  Stop making that face, didn’t your mother tell you it would freeze like that? It will.

Listen to your Mom.

Plot First Writers: Interview your antagonist. That’s right, antagonist, and find out what makes them do, what they do.

Setting: Coffee shop

Style of Interview: Formal You’re interviewing them for a write-up in a prestigious literary magazine so don’t be afraid to use ten-dollar words.

Goal: Discover why they are opposed to the protagonist (other than you NEED them to be) and also what they think of them.
Need ideas? Look at Despicable Me,  Timothy Zahn’s  Admiral Thrawn, or Wayne Thomas Batson’s Morlan from Sword in the Stars.

Need help flushing out your villain? And even your heroes? Check out:

The Complete Writer’s Guide to Heroes and Heroines (9781580650243)   *I highly recommend this book, I’ve broken the spine on mine.* 

I love it because it gives film versions of the Heroes and Heroines and you instantly connect with who they are talking about. I’m well read, but several books like this one referenced characters I wasn’t familiar with and made it cumbersome to figure out what they were talking about.


World Builder Writers: Look at your Work In Progress and find the plot (this should be able to be stated in a single word or at most three words)

There are roughly 20-30 some plots that writers have recycled since the Greeks (and you thought that recycling was something new)

Tobias, Ronald B. 20 Master Plots And How to Build Them (9781582972398 ) *I highly recommend this book, I’ve worn my copy out*
This book proposes twenty basic plots:

  1. Quest
  2. Adventure
  3. Pursuit
  4. Rescue
  5. Escape
  6. Revenge
  7. The Riddle
  8. Rivalry
  9. Underdog
  10. Temptation
  11. Metamorphosis
  12. Transformation
  13. Maturation
  14. Love
  15. Forbidden Love
  16. Sacrifice
  17. Discovery
  18. Wretched Excess
  19. Ascension
  20. Descension.

Once you have discovered your plot, find  the theme of the story you’re working on, which should be able to be stated in a sentence.
For example:

My plot is  Sacrifice and the theme is Giving up love for material gain will not make you happy.
After you have an idea of the plot and the theme of your book you can start to look at the story and highlight other themes (books usually have more than one)  Keep these posted somewhere you can refer to them from time to time.

Encourage One Another, Scribes! And in the comments below, tell me what kind of writer you are, and which assignment you’re going to take on! I want to know if this helped or not. Make sure to leave feedback and check back NEXT Friday for another skill-building challenge.

  1. Gee says:

    Enjoyed the read, as always, Michelle. Another good book to check out is Vladimir Propp’s “Morphology of the Folk Tale,” wherein he identifies (and analyzes) the “31 narratemes” (or plot elements) that he contends are common to all fiction. This website summarizes Propp’s analysis fairly well, albeit rather briefly:

  2. Megan-Marie says:

    “What we’ve discovered is Shakespeare’s tragedies are actually funnier than the comedies . . .” And villains are simply more interesting than . . . those other guys.

    • Well, that’s because villains by their very nature, have to be more complex than the hero.

      Then there is the subclass of antagonist (Gilad) who is merely set up against the protagonist (Valentine) simply because of the annoyance factor the protag

  3. Galadriel says:

    What about character-first writers?

Be brilliant, be peculiar, be peculiarly brilliant.

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