#YABbootcamp Final Check-In (#Winning)!

i survived yabbootcamp

The YA Buccaneers Spring Writing Bootcamp is officially over & I’m a survivor (cue Destiny’s Child)!

As sad as I am about it being over, it was such as great sense of community these past three months, I’ve met so many new friends and made so much progress that all I can say is #Winning. LOL.

  • I got back on my reading horse during May after being completely burnt out thanks to finals (ew, yuck!)
  • I finished multiple drafts of my MS & revisions of my MS, THE DAUPHINE FILES. (It went from NA to YA and from 48,000 to 56,000 words all in 3 months!!!)

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YAYAYAYAY!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

All in All YABbootcamp was such a success. A HUGE thank you the YA Buccaneers & Team Defiance (y’all rock!). Congratulations to everyone, we’re all winners and…

Come on…you knew it was coming 😉

Whimsically Yours,

PnC

Guest Post by Author E.R. Arroyo on Plotting

the offering

Happy Friday! I’m thrilled to have author E.R. Erroyo stop by my blog today to talk about plotting!!

Guest Post for Whimsically Yours

Patrice, thank you so much for inviting me to post on Whimsically Yours on the very special week of my book’s release! The Offering is out and now I’m finally getting to sit back and bask in the glory of publishing my second book. (Secret: It’s not that glorious, another project always waits. No rest for this writer, but I’m happy nonetheless!)

Though no one ever heard of me until I published a book, my writing background is actually in screenwriting. It was not necessarily a successful endeavor but I studied the craft for years and I took away some very valuable lessons and skills that I’ve been able to apply to writing my novels. The most important thing I picked up during my screenwriting stint was plotting.

In scripts it’s all about the plot points, sometimes down to the very page number. A formula if you will. Things can be a bit more flexible in prose, but with the same principles I’ve had pretty good success with writing solid plots that remained fairly set-in even through the various rounds of revisions. So far I’ve never had to do a massive rewrite and I think I owe that largely to my screenwriting roots.

So what do the screenwriters know that we could learn from? I’d love to tell you

I’m going to go out on a limb and say most of us have watched the movie Twilight. I’m not asking for a show of hands, don’t worry! Whether you love or hate this book and/or movie, it’s a great example because the screenplay for the film perfectly illustrates what I want to show you.

When I’m breaking down a plot, I’m looking for five plot points and those set the foundation for my outline. This concept goes right along with the three act structure. Here’s what it looks like:

  • Act 1 = the first 25% of your book/script
  • Act 2 = the middle 50% of your book/script (from 25% mark to 75% mark)
  • Act 3 = the final 25% of your book/script (from 75% mark to end)

Here’s where the plot points fit into that. (Note: Some people call plot points turning points because they change the story)

  1. “Inciting Incident” – What sets the story in motion, this is your story’s ‘hook’ and should occur within the first 10% of your story.
  1. “The Lock In/Change of Plans” – Your character becomes committed to a new course of action that sets the stage for the rest of the story. It’s a game-changer. This occurs at the end of Act 1, roughly 25% through your story.
  1. “The Point of No Return” – Also known as your midpoint. There’s no going back now – the character has fully accepted the new course for better or worse. This occurs in the middle of act two, 50% through the story.
  1. “Major Setback” – This is where everything finally comes to a head and your hero is faced with his/her final challenge. Everything has led to this final series of events. This begins at 75%.
  1. “Climax/Third Act Twist” – This is where you put your final throes, pull out all the stops, and let your characters really have it. This is where you devastate, destroy, and leave your reader on the edge of their seat, worried to death for your character. This is from 90-99% of your story.

So, now that we have that ground work, let’s apply this to the screenplay for Twilight. The script is 103 pages long, so the percentages will be pretty close to the actual the page numbers.

  1. Inciting Incident – Bella sees Edward Cullen arrive at the school cafeteria. Page 10. Bam, there’s your hook.
  1. The Lock In/Change of Plans – Edward stops the van from crushing Bella. Page 24. Now Bella knows there’s something different about Edward and becomes desperate to find out what.
  1. The Point of No Return – Bella has just figured out that Edward is a vampire and confronts him in the woods on page 50. She doesn’t care what kind of danger that puts her in, she’s into Edward and that’s that.
  1. Major Setback – Alice flips out in the middle of the baseball game because the bad vampires are coming. This occurs on page 75. On page 76, Edward admits he shouldn’t have brought Bella along, letting us know she’s in grave danger. Then James, Laurent, and Victoria step out of the woods in all their menacing, blood-sucking glory.
  1. Climax/Third Act Twist – Bella meets James at the ballet studio on page 90. And you know the rest.

As you can see with the page numbers, these plot points are almost spot-on with the formula I mentioned. This is what I love about scripts and I apply this same technique when I’m plotting novels because it’s effective and keeps my stories moving at what is hopefully a good pace. Everything that happens in between those plot points is intended to build toward the next plot point, and ultimately toward the end.

One more example? How about The Hunger Games? Larry Brooks over at Storyfix.com did an excellent break down of the plot of Hunger Games in this post.

I suggest you read his post as it’s more in depth, but here’s the gist:

  1. Inciting Incident – Katniss volunteers in the reaping

 

  1. The Lock In/Change of Plans – Peeta fabricates a romantic relationship with Katniss for the sake of viewer sympathy and Katniss agrees to play along

 

  1. The Point of No Return – Katniss enters the arena

 

  1. Major Setback – After the announcement that there can be two winners, Katniss reunites with Peeta, who is seriously injured

 

  1. Climax/Twist – Katniss and Peeta survive the mutts, defeat Cato, and pull the berry stunt

(Mind you Mr. Brooks’s terminology is different from mine. I recommend you research a number of different sources until you find a set of information that makes sense to you).

How I apply all this information to plotting my own story

First, I start with an empty template like this and fill it in. This is the most basic form of an outline.

1 – Inciting Incident:
2 – The Lock In/Change of Plans:
3 – Point of No Return:
4 – Major Setback:
5 – Climax/Twist:

After I’ve identified those major parts of my story, I expand my outline to include each chapter of the book. I allow myself twenty chapters as a general framework. This may be different if you prefer shorter chapters.

Okay, let’s say I’m doing twenty chapters, I know my second turning point needs to happen by chapter five. Using that idea, I fill in my list of plot points. After that, I make a list of the main “thing” that happens in each of the proposed twenty chapters in between the plot points I have already plugged in.

Chapters:

1 – Inciting Incident (I would put the actual incident here)
2
3
4
5 – Lock In/Change of Plans
6
7
8
9
10 – Point of No Return
11
12
13
14
15 – Major Setback
16
17
18
19 – Climax
20 – Denouement/Resolution

These are my guidelines and not set in stone. It gives me a framework, which is what an outline is meant to be. Often, things change along the way as I’m writing and I rework my outline to accommodate the new ideas, but I always, always have an outline to keep me on track.

In my latest work, The Offering, I have 22 chapters and an epilogue, so obviously the plot points aren’t exactly where I originally planned them to be, particularly in the second half of the book. But I began with the above framework of twenty chapters and adapted as I went along.

On a creative note, I am always willing to go with the flow once I’m finally writing, and I very often get a better idea once I’m in the process that didn’t occur to me during plotting stages. My outline is not meant to be rigid—it’s a guide. I have to have a general idea of where I’m going in order to begin getting there. If the road changes, I go with it.

Here are some of my favorite resources:

I do quite a bit of pre-writing before I ever start. I use my own tailored version of a method called the Snowflake method. You can learn more about it here.

The Script Lab – Plot: Five Key Moments – LINK

The Script Lab – Plot: The Eight Sequences — LINK

Story Mastery Screenplay Structure – LINK

The Screenplay to Twilight – LINK (Mentioned above)

Storyfix – Hunger Games in Nine Sentences – LINK (Mentioned above)

As I said, do your research and figure out what works for you. What I do might not be your cup of tea. I hope this inspires you to think more about how to structure your outlines more purposefully. There are many aspects that go into a great novel, and an outline such as the one I’ve proposed is simply the skeleton of the story. The character arc and development, the emotion, the stakes, the consequences, and the conflict are all necessary as well, but they are built upon the outline/plot.

six stage plotting

Patrice, thanks for having me on your site again!

Hopefully some of what I’ve said has resonated with your readers and I’ll be checking in for comments if anyone wants to start up a convo about plotting! What works for you??

arroyo picAbout E.R. Arroyo

An entertainment junkie, E.R. Arroyo is equally passionate about books, music, and movies. Her favorite title is “mommy” and she loves to dabble in all-natural health, wellness, and homemade beauty products. Her bestselling debut novel, Sovereign, was published in 2012. She can’t wait to share more of her stories, and she loves to hear from readers!

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Additional Information:

Interview with E.R. Arroyo @ Whimsically Yours

Review of SOVEREIGN (book 1) @ Whimsically Yours

My review of THE OFFERING is to come, in the meanwhile here are some buy links in case you’d like to purchase the series:

Don’t forget to share your plotting tips in the comments!
Whimsically Yours,
PnC

If You Like It Then You’d Betta Put a Title on It

Good Morning  Readers,

Welcome to the first of many posts on “How to Write a Book”.  I’m your host…or rather your writer, Patrice, and I am going to show you how its done.  Feedback is always welcome & if you would like me to cover a specific area or answer a question about the book writing process just post in the comments section below 🙂

Disclaimer:

My intention is not to seem like a writer who thinks that just by writing and/or publishing a book they now know everything…this is more of me sharing my experiences, trials/errors, from writing my first book while I am writing a new one.

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(imagine this baby is your book…no pressure)

Titles are extremely important.

Take the title of this post: By looking at this title you can figure out 1) This post has something to do with titles & their importance and 2) because of the pop culture reference it is probably written in a more relaxed style aka not a formal essay.

See how important a title is…by simply grouping together a bunch of words I have cleverly told you the key things you need to know.

Titling your book is no different.  I have heard many varying opinions on this some writers say that knew what the title would be from the moment they came up with the book idea, others didn’t know until after the editing process.  However I believe that it is crucial that you put a title on your book from the very beginning.

1. Titling your book in the beginning signifies that this is something real that you are serious about.

What I mean by that is when you begin to write a book, especially if it is your first book you are much more reluctant to tell other about it; I didn’t begin to tell people about BLOOD OF ISIS until I was finished.  However by having a title on “BOI” it became serious to me.  I was able to tell fellow writers, when asked what I was up to, not just that I was writing (no duh) but that I was writing a book [insert title here].  It also told myself that it was something I was serious about because you don’t go spending time titling something, making sure that title encompasses all that you want the reader to know (with a short glance alone) unless it means something to you.  My title was also on all of my various word documents so whenever I was about to open one, it was little a little voice was saying “hey, you’re writing a book, this is actually happening, you go get em girl, great job.”  (Yeah…that’s how I motivate myself)

2. Titling your book in the beginning gets your “creative juices flowing.” 

With BLOOD OF ISIS, I don’t even remember how I began it, all I know is that it started with a dream sequence (it was horrible & I threw it out but more on that later).  However with THE OTHERWORLDLY CHRONICLES*I began with an opening scene, that later became the prologue (I’m big on prologues, it’s an unfortunate addiction, no BOI does not have one).  It was beautiful, I am still in love with it and for a couple weeks while I was working on BOI, it sat on my computer unopened.  Then one day I opened it, I was so excited, I was finally getting to work on my new story…yep, you guessed it, I drew a blank.  First writer’s block and it was horrible, I think I might have had a Twitter breakdown, oops.

I had no idea what to do or how to solve the problem then the next day I looked at my new manuscript and at BOI and (other than the fact the BOI was “complete”) I noticed that my new MS had no title on it.  it’s actually quite funny because a title had been in my head for the past few day, something about “the otherworld”.  All I could think was…that is whack, what kind of title is that, what is that?  Until I happened upon Kelley Armstrong’s Otherworld Series, a series I had seen in a bookstore years ago.  Then it hit me; my book would be called THE OTHERWORLDLY CHRONICLES.  And guess what???  As soon as I “put a title on it”, the juices began to flow 🙂

*Update: THE OTHERWORLDLY CHRONICLES is no longer a project of mine. The characters/themes/creatures of that WIP gave way to ALEX DE VEGA AND PANDORA’S BOX (MG Sci-Fi Thriller, Complete at 47,000 words).

So…How do you title a book?

All you need to do is break down the essence of your story, even if you only have an idea, you know what your story is about…trust me, if you listen closely, you’ll find it.

One you’ve “found it”, walk away and come back to it a few hours later because once you’ve planted the idea in your head that you want to title your book, the writer inside of you will begin to think about that title even if you are doing something else.  When you get back to your story look at it and write down some of the first things that come to your mind.  With BLOOD OF ISIS it was obvious…the main character, Aziza, the is so important because she is descended from Isis.  However there are too many books out there with the words descendants or children of gods out there, so I thought of something different.  It is Isis’s blood running through Aziza’s veins that makes her the heir of Isis, in addition the necklace she wears, based on a real artifact, is called the Blood of Isis.

Take your time, don’t rush and please put a title on your book, it will help the writing process go smoother 🙂  Oh and one last point: remember this is a working title, meaning…especially if you are thinking of getting an agent, finding a traditional publisher etc…they likely have final decision over your title.  Even if you are planning on self-publishing, you still might need to change your title either at someone else’s suggestion or your own…so don’t get too attached 🙂

…Take it away, Beyoncé (Just make sure you replace the lyrics when appropriate) :

Whimsically Yours,

PnC

The Otherworldly Chronicles

I am currently working on a new book, I hope to have the manuscript completed by the time I finish editing BLOOD OF ISIS  (Genre: Young Adult Contemporary Fantasy).

I was not going to post this here but I figured that there more people who know about it the better that way it is harder for me to stop writing it.

Here is a working description, it will be updated as I revise it 🙂  If you click the title link it will take you to my writer site where you can read the prologue.

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THE OTHERWORLDLY CHRONICLES

Twelve year old Eva Alexandra hates her name.  Her mother is always telling her that it is a “name befitting of a princess”, however Eva Alexandra is no princess.  

In Redwood City, California life is good; the weather is always wonderful and its inhabitants enjoy life in the beautiful port city.  They say that ignorance is bliss, and Eva Alexandra is about to find out how true that really is.  Little does she know it but Redwood City is actually the place where our world and their world meet.  A world where creatures of myth coexist.  Population unknown…Welcome to the Otherworld.

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THE OTHERWORLDLY CHRONICLES (Genre: Middle Grade Contemporary Fantasy) is my newest work-in-progress.  Feedback and/or questions on it are always welcome for they help to keep me on track to complete it.

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Also I will be starting a post series on “How to Write a Book”…I figured it would be interesting for my readers as well as a nice “workshop” type exercise for me.  It will follow my process of writing & completing THE OTHERWORLDLY CHRONICLES…check out the first post: “If You Like It Then You’d Betta Put a Title on It”.

Whimsically Yours,

PnC