Friday, March 02, 2012

Conversations with Barb & Jann



Barb:  Hey, Jann, how’s the story coming? Got it nailed down yet?

Jann:  Well, I can tell you that my brain has been storming, that’s for sure. I have this seed of a story I’ve been wrestling with for months (soon to be a year). My plot and characters are all over the place. For years I have read and listened to some talented writers explain their writing techniques. I’ve tried out several, to the point that I’m totally confused on how to get this story on the page. I was pulling my hair out by the roots, so I sat down and asked myself this question, “which one do I feel most comfortable with?” Answer – The Writer’s Journey by Christopher Vogler. I guess it goes back to the beginning when I joined OCC and the first writing technique I was exposed to was a workshop given by Jill Marie Landis on the hero’s journey. I found the handout Jill gave us breaking down the 12 steps (but can’t locate the one she had completed with one of her books – darn it) and pulled The Writer’s Journey off the shelf and started to reacquaint myself with a tried and true concept. I have to say it’s working.  It’s slow, but working!

Barb:  That’s super, Jann! The Hero’s Journey is a great tool for a lot of writers, but I have trouble using it for some reason. I usually start out with a germ of an idea for a story, a hook of some sort, and think about it for days before I write anything down. When I’m really excited about it and can’t wait any longer, I get out a legal pad and start writing a story blurb or even a short outline. At that point I consult GMC and the three-act structure with its turning points (or plot points), midpoint, etc., to get the characters and story filled out. The three-act structure process seems to work best for me. I guess it’s my love of the movies. I can break down my favorite movies into their three acts, and frequently refer to them for inspiration when I’m stuck.  I believe the best handout I have on the subject is Lou Nelson’s Basic Paradigm Plot Definitions.  She provided it to everyone who attended her “pajama party” at OCC’s birthday bash last October. She included a blank three-act paradigm for everyone to fill out.

Jann:  Barb, I think what we can take away from this is that not one process works for every writer. I say, whatever works for you, go for it.