Saturday, I attended an Oregon Christian Writers Conference. Today, I want to share a few tidbits from the keynote speaker and award winning romance author Gail Sattler, from Vancouver, Canada.
She shared that plot trumps good writing. Craftsmanship is second to plot. You must cultivate a unique voice; a style with expressions all your own. Don’t let critiquer’s, agents or editors try to dismantle your voice and style. Make you sound like you. Don’t use exact words of critiquer’s if you do make changes. Know yourself, what you’re good at writing. Make it fresh, new, different and keep a tight POV.
Long ago, Gail’s husband found and read the following statement to her and she keeps the copy taped to the door in her writing space. ‘Literature duplicates the experience of the living in a way that nothing else can, drawing you so fully into another life that you temporarily forget that you have one of your own. That is why you read it and might even sit up in bed until dawn, throwing your whole tomorrow out of whack, simply to find out what happens to some people who, you know perfectly well...are made up.’
After Gail’s general morning session ended I trotted up to her and ask if I could copy the statement and share it with this group. She said, “I’ll do you one better.” She tore the statement from the bottom of her printed notes and handed it to me.
The first workshop I choose, entitled, SCENE AND SEQUEL was also taught by Gail.
She explained scene is the high point. Sequel is the aftermath after the scene; the wind down. When you begin your book you need to keep building the scenes higher and higher to the black moment. Make the conflict in the scene match with the scene and then bump it up. You must keep the reader moving. At the close of your book it should be a satisfying ending.
To begin your book you should:
1. Write your plot in three sentences or less.
2. Create a character. What does the character want? Why can’t they have it? What choices do they have?
3. Discover his/her greatest problem. Why can’t the conflict be solved?
4. Have him/her fail. Not all disasters have to be major.
Your story if placed on a graphing chart should show a continual uphill climb with small dips between. Not Severe highs followed by severe lows and/or a knot of squiggles between the points.
Your book should follow this repeated pattern throughout:
Goal - What does the character want?
Conflict - Why can’t they have it?
Disaster - Why can’t the conflict be resolved?
Reaction - Contemplations/decisions
Dilemma - Choices, why are they good or bad?
Decision - Sets goal for next scene.
Do you set your book up with a scene and sequel approach? Why or why not?