Chapter One Young Writers Conference: 2014 Blog Tour!!

chich1 panner

Happy Friday, Readers! Today, I’m participating in the Ch1Con Blog Tour!!

What’s Ch1Con?

…Seriously? It’s THE coolest writers conference for young writers (middle school through undergraduate)…aka it’s where all the cool kids will be.

This year, the conference takes place from June 14-15 just outside Chicago, Illinois. The team includes CEO Julia Byers, Creative Director Molly Brennan, Associate Online Administrator Kira Budge, Event Aide Lynn Byers, and a number of other speakers and contributors heavily involved in the teen writing world. There will be a number of speakers, including headliner Amy Zhang, whose debut YA contemp novel FALLING INTO PLACE comes out in September and has already received rave reviews for its “complex web of relationships and interactions” (quote via Goodreads) and unique POV.

FYI, Amy’s amazing…You’re going to want to be there. Read my “before the book deal” interview with her (the fame hasn’t changed her one bit)

Oh, and guess what?!?! I’m one of the speakers!! That’s right. I’ll be giving an interactive talk on “Following the Rules: Worldbuilding 101.” It’s open to writers of all genres, and I really hope you’re able to attend. You can register here: http://chapteroneconference.com/register/

Why was the conference started?

Well… There are few events as enjoyable and productive for people in our field as writing conferences. With so many options out there, many specifically designed towards certain genres or groups, writers can almost always find a conference geared towards their needs! Because the teen writing community is a particularly vibrant one, set to determine the future of the industry, it seemed fitting that there be a conference just for them. Thus, a number of teen writers, friends for many years thanks to the wonder of the Internet, came together to create the Chapter One Young Writers Conference, which takes place every summer and brings young writers together to hear from accomplished speakers of their age, complete workshops, and celebrate the influence young writers have on the world. This year’s conference will be the first session open for public registration!

The original conference took place in 2012 with six teenagers in attendance in person and countless others attending via an online live stream.

It was an experiment limited to members of the Scholastic’s Write It community and their friends: Could a group of teenagers from across North America really get together and run their own conference?

The answer soon became apparent: Yes.

And so Chapter One Young Writers Conference was born!

The schedule

Saturday’s sessions will include presentations by up-and-coming young authors and a panel for attendees to ask the speakers anything, from querying tips to OTPs! Sunday’s sessions will focus on workshopping, including Ch1Con’s signature “Roundtable Critique” event. Between sessions, attendees will have the option to participate in literary trivia games and giveaways, with prizes like professional critiques, ARCs, and literary-themed jewelry! (I’ll be giving away some signed swag from author buds and a critique!)

During downtime, all participants are free to explore the wonderful sites in the Chicago area.

The Location

The conference will be held in the Courtyard Chicago Arlington Heights/South Marriot, with sessions from 9am to 4:30pm Saturday the 14th, and 9am to 12:30pm Sunday the 15th. Tickets for transport and room reservations can be bought online, with links on the conference’s Travel page. Registration is now open.

For more information, check out the social media platforms of the conference:
Website: Chapter One Young Writers Conference
Facebook: Chapter One Young Writers Conference
Twitter: @Ch1Con

And don’t forget to follow the rest of the blog tour as it spans a number of writing blogs through the next couple of weeks! Check out Chapter One Young Writers on its social media sites for the full tour information!

Hope to see you there!

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

Interview with YA Author Terah Edun

Hi Readers –Good Afternoon!!!

Today I have with me Terah Edun author of the YA Epic Fantasy Novel Red Madrassa (review to come later today!).

Hi, I’m Terah!

I’m currently a humanitarian aid worker, so that’s what takes up most of my time and energy. I’m young, starry-eyed and a daydreamer who loves to read. I became an author after writing novels for my best friend and growing frustrated at the lack of strong, young women being published in epic fantasy. *cough* There could be five hundred books a year and I still wouldn’t consider it enough. *end cough*

What is your favorite place to write?

I’m pretty easy to please. I need a quiet environment, a desk and my iPhone. I can’t write outdoors. My favorite place is comfortably ensconced in my apartment with a blanket wrapped around me.

What is the first story you remember writing?

It was a story I submitted for an English Arts project in high school about a girl climbing into a mountain cave and discovering a magic lizard. I still have it and the comments from my teacher written across the top in red. She loved it!

When did you first consider yourself a writer?

Hmm when I held the print copy of my first book – Red Madrassa.

If you could be any character from a book, movie, play, or musical who would it be and why?

I’d probably love to be Queen Selenay from Mercedes Lackey’s Arrows of the Queen series. She’s a compassion and loved Queen in Valdemar history.

What is the best piece of constructive criticism you ever received?

Keep writing.

How do you overcome “writer’s block” ? 

I take a break, listen to music, watch t.v., do anything else and then come back to the story fresh.

Coffee or tea?

Chai.

Fun Fact about yourself most people don’t know?

I would love to own a Newfoundland and a Bernese Mountain Dog.

What was the publishing process like for you?

A step at a time. As a self-published author I’ve learned everything on my own with the help of a very supportive writing community. Many times I’ve made mistakes but I’ve learned from each one.

What is some advice you would impart to writers who wish to be published?

There are so many ways to get published nowadays – pick what’s best for you and keep moving forward.

If you could have breakfast with anyone dead or alive, who would it be and what would you eat?

Barack Obama.

What is your favorite movie(s)?

Air Force One and Mulan are oldies but goodies. I’m really looking forward to the release of Beautiful Creatures though.

If you had/have an animal spirit which animal(s) would it be…why?

Probably a crafty fox. 😉

What is your favorite childhood book and/or author?

Hands down the Circle of Magic series by Tamora Pierce.

What is the next book you want to write?

My latest book is Sworn to Raise which releases in March 2013. After that I’ll be writing the sequel to Red Madrassa.

Imagine you are writing your memoir…what is its title?

The girl who tried to have it all and succeeded.

Last words???

I love readers – stop by my website teedun.com

Thanks for joining me today, Terah!  I’m really looking forward to the release of the Beautiful Creatures movie as well:)

–Readers: If you have any questions for Terah feel free to ask them in the comments section below 🙂

Whimsically Yours,

PnC