Why Writing Practice
This is where the rubber meets the road.
Screenplay or 10 minute play, historical non-fiction or mystical science fiction, mystery, drama, romance and memoir… They are all driven by the same desire: to tell the story of what happened. Yearning to write is a fancy outfit in the store window, it is a shiny car on the showroom floor. It is not yours. Yet. Writing is getting a job so you can afford those things.
Writing is Practice
The goal, your and my goal, is to write our piece. Not read about writing, or talk about writing, but write. We will accomplish this together by writing every time we are asked. Do the short writes. Be amazed at what you produce.
Time is on Your Side
5 minutes will be the amount of time you will invest in each prompt. This is doable. You will see results. You will be encouraged because it is doable and you will see results.
What is not to like?
Trilogy, short story, memoir, screenplay… Many ways to tell the tale yet all good stories share this primal DNA: Good stories have a beginning, a middle, and an end. Why? Because that is how we are wired.
Your Story’s Journey
Why does a story need a roadmap?
This multi-layer approach is based on Joseph Campbell‘s Mythic Journey exploration adapting his 17 stages into 12. As I work to write my memoir I want it to be read like a fiction. Want the reader to be drawn into the relationships so they care about the characters during the action. If readers don’t get hooked on your characters then it is just blah, blah, blah until the last page. Why settle for that? I created this map to guide me through writing, rewrites, and revisions. It is 2 layers deep thus far. Each layer’s prompts and exercises are fashioned to draw out your story. Draw it out in your words, not mine.
Notice on the second map when you hover with your mouse or tap on you phone or tablet it displays more info. When it goes live each line will link you to an exercise to tease out your story in that area. Normal Life has the first layer active now. Give it a try!
This map is a scuba outfit, it is miner’s gear, a camera drone, it is a judgement-free assistant who can help you navigate the trail. Writers of mysteries, memoirs, screenplays, poems, journals, stage plays, and mythic historical fiction have to find their way from idea to finished story. Everyone struggles somewhere along the road and while this map is not a magic wand it is a way to cross the tricky areas with a workable plan firmly in hand.
This is where the characters face their most important challenges. All of the elements which seemed like a slam dunk in the proposal are put into action.
We find characters at odds with each other, with objectives, with themselves. Moral compasses can't be read, characters face their own demons, the joy ride turns into a test of honor, a test of wills pitted against each other, the strength of love, new alliances and an uncertain future.
In movies this takes place during the first few minutes. It sets up the environment, the rules, the characters and their motivations. What the audience agrees to here will support them for the rest of the story.
This is the part of a conversation where the screen pitches you an idea: What if there was a beautiful lush planet inhabited by an evolved spiritual people and the planet contained the rare mineral unobtainium?
And to further complicate things, we will view this through the eyes of a crippled-by-battle derelict who (through some very cool science) would be able to function fully if he works for the man to mine this planet. This guy is enthusiastically onboard for getting his legs back, but he also has a conscience.
Section sounds obvious, but have you ever watched a movie, or tv series, where the end did not make sense -except to get out of the scene. One or more characters you came to know and rely upon acted out of character. You're left scratching your head with questions that steal from your satisfaction.
This can happen because the writer set up a compelling series of events they did not think through to the conclusion. Also, there are a lot of cooks in the kitchen when a movie/tv series is being made. Corporate-directed plot lines defy character-evolved plot lines. And there is the rub.
Play, Act 1 - Characters
This is the set up. Curtain opens and we are presented with the players, their relationships and possibly toward the end of act one an inciting incident. The incident raises the stakes from everyday life to something has got to be done about this. Momentum is built here as well as our investment in the characters. We are invested and we need to know the outcome.
Play, Act 2 - Obstacles & Crisis
This is a furiously busy section where the feathers hit the fan and turmoil reigns. We find out the true mettle of players in fight or flight. A pitched battle of wits defines alliances and those who would betray their friends make their move. Batter up!
Play, Act 3 - Goals & Resolution
Kick this off with big defeats for the bad guys and double down with bigger losses for the villains. Dust settles, good people stand up and dust themselves off. The world akimbo is set straight once again. Look around, these are the players you want to see lead us into the future. Well done.
Your Story's Journey 3 in 1 Map
I made this to help me see the relationship between stories developed as screenplays vs books vs plays.
Writing in Community Builds Strength
Online and/or in-person a good writing group will support you through thick and thin. They will amaze you with their diversity of content and open your eyes to all the colors possible through different voices. And they will listen.
FIND A GROUP
Find a place where writers meet and ask around. I call it the “watering hole” technique. If you were a writer, where would you go? We have a calendar, MeetUp.com may be useful in larger cities.
Take new groups for a spin. Do they have a good location, easy commute, good writing environment, weekly meetings, diverse subject matter… Are they glad to have you?
Perfectly okay if the first couple of groups you try fall short of what you want. Be choosy. The dog that trots about finds a bone. There can be rewards in roving.
ROLL YOUR OWN
Nothing happening near you or none of the groups feel like a fit? Start a writing group yourself!
Three Things to Remember
Writing may put you in conflict with many things you take for granted. Do not despair.
TYPE IT UP
JOIN A WRITING GROUP