The Final Perfect Line

November is coming! November is coming! Writers are frantically preparing for the month of NANOWRIMO. In case you’ve been living under a rock, NANOWRIMO stands for National Novel Writing Month. Since 1999, a simple challenge to write 50,000 words in thirty days has grown to be a non-profit organization supporting and cheering on hundreds of thousands of writers. The push is to finish no matter how unpolished the words. Because until you write the first draft, the perfect phrases, you cannot craft the perfect final line. Prepare for NANOWRIMO Many participants spend October planning the novel they’ll write in November. In the race to prepare, the writers create outlines and character bios and lists of complications and setting details.  That means that advice for the participants fills many October blogs. This blog is not a lot different. In past years, I’ve written advice on how to revise their NANOWRIMO novels. In reverse you can use that advice to build a novel. Read my Re-visioning Your Story posts if you want that kind of writing advice. This year, instead of advice, I share a few last lines as inspiration. The Perfect Final Line He was soon borne away by the waves, and lost in darkness […]

Dirty Little Secrets to Writing a Good Story

In my post Two Secret Rules for Writers, I said the secret was that there isn’t a secret in writing. I may have to take that back. The truth is there are dirty little secrets to writing a good story. One secret? There’s probably no new story under the sun. Why? Are we writers’ incapable of an original thought? Heck no! The originality comes from the blend and the bend of the story as told by that particular writer at that particular time. Stories come from the stories we have consumed (read, heard, or viewed). So they are all a melding of a ton of different things. Study Story To write the best stories one must study the masters. Study the successful stories. What makes them tick? And how can I use that in my story? Pantsers decry outlines and story structure to their story’s detriment. The way the human brain processes story demands a structure we can recognize. You don’t have to start from an outline, but whatever you write must have the parts in it to be successful. Mish-Mash I’ve mixed bits and pieces of Westerns and Space Opera and Thrillers and mythology. Yes, they went into one […]

Do You Know The Secrets of Successful Story-writing?

Yes, there are secrets to successful story-writing but don’t worry, the recipes aren’t hard. The ingredients are classic and simple. The directions aren’t difficult. The execution…well, that part’s up to you. Let’s start with the basic M-R unit. Story equals change…equals cause and effect… equals motivation and reaction. —Dwight V. Swain The Motivation-Reaction Unit Remember the Because-But-Therefore statement I talked about in Because There are Lies, Secrets, and Scars? Now we’re digging deeper into that concept.  The M-R Unit is the creation of Dwight V. Swain and discussed in his book, Techniques of the Selling Writer. The writer who understands the M-R unit will write a successful story. Success may not come in the first draft. But if you understand the M-R unit, you understand one of the secrets of successful story-writing.  In his book, Swain says, “External events have no meaning in themselves, no matter how bland or how violent they may be….They aid in story development only as someone has feelings about them and reacts to them.” Cause and Effect That external event in a story causes the character to have a reaction. Swain calls the event, or cause, a motivating stimulus. The cause, or motivating stimulus,  is […]