Premise and Momentum

imagesE88PIKBB

I want to share an exercise with you all that recently helped me better understand drama, momentum and stakes. I’m part of a workshop and we did this exercise in my last class. It really opened up my current work in progress. I hope it helps you guys as much as it helped me!

 

This is an exercise by Bill Johnson, it is NOT MINE! I simply want to share his wisdom. I’ve reworded a few things, but I take no credit. Here is a link to the full essay, which I highly encourage you all to read. Everything below is just a brief overview.

Each character needs to have their own stakes and they all need to be somehow connected in order to drive the story forward. How do you do that?

To create drama, the writer needs to make the reader care about what is going on. That is easier said than done. The best way to do that is to convey
1- What is at stake in the world of the story
2- What is at stake for the individual in the story
3- What is at stake in each individual scene
4- How the outcome of individual scenes and character goals move the story forward.

What’s at stake in the world of the story (the premise) needs to be connected to each character’s personal stakes. If there is drama that the character isn’t emotionally attached to, then the characters can come off as mechanical, acting only to advance the story. If a character doesn’t have forward momentum then they aren’t necessary, not matter how funny/sweet/ wonderful they are. They only interrupt forward movement.

How do you test this? EASY!

1- What is the premise of your story/ book?
2-What is at stake for each of your characters (even the minor ones!)
3- What is the main thing in the way of each character?
4- Locate one scene or character that does not advance the plot and cut them! Your story will open up!

48042-Book-NerdI cannot describe how great this exercise was. Surprisingly, the hardest part for each of us in the class was figuring out what our premise really was. How can you write a book if you don’t know exactly what  you are writing about? Writers tend to do that more often than you’d think, especially in the beginning. It is easy to think your premise is something it’s not. For example, I though my premise was ” Revenge on the bay guy” but after some digging I realized my premise is “Revenge takes more than it gives you”. That is a premise I can craft a meaningful novel around and build characters with.

Good luck guys, and keep writing!jessica grace kelleyt signature

 

Advertisements

So I wrote a book … now what?

No, I’m really asking, now what?

A few weeks ago, I finally wrote the last sentence of the novel I have been writing for the past two years.

Two. Years.

As soon as I finished, I felt an overwhelming sense of pride.

giphy
I was joyful. Ecstatic. I had finally accomplished something that I had dreamed about doing as a little girl, and I was proud of it. So proud! I mean who cares if nothing ever came of it, I WROTE A BOOK!!!!!!! If no one else liked it at least I did, and I was okay with that. So what if I poured two years of precious time and effort into this thing? I didn’t need anyone’s approval, I was a strong independent woman who has accomplished a DREAM!!!!!!!!!!

I WAS A CHAMPION!!!!!! Right? … Right?

Well, yea, I was technically right. But here’s the thing about books. There not worth much if no one reads them. So, how was I going to get people to read it? and enjoy it? As I stared at the 107,000 words I had written ( I know, it’s long) I couldn’t help but think, Now what?

So I did the only thing I could think of. I entered a contest.

I wasn’t under any delusions that I would magically win and suddenly become a best selling Author.  I entered because they promised feedback, and feedback is invaluable. Creating my entry also forced me to look at the first two chapters of my book with a critical eye. It forced me to edit. It forced me to cut. All in all, it made my story better.

So, that was a good start! I took a first step!  I am going somewhere!

And after that first step, I arrived at the same question .

Now what?

So, I’m entering more contests and trying to gather some draft readers. Truthfully I’m just stumbling around, sort of lost. I am taking some time to read other people’s work, because I think a good writer has to be an avid reader . My inbox is jam packed with books, just waiting for me to review them! I can’t wait!  But I am worried this new experience is going to change my ability to critically review.  Will I still be honest about flaws? Will I be too connected to the author’s feelings, and suddenly be too biased?

Great job!!!!...Sort of.
Great job!!!!…Sort of.

Am I going to say “good work” to everything, just because I truly understand the blood, sweat, and tears that went into these pages? I open the first book on my list nervously. It’s written by a favorite author of mine, Kate Avery Ellison (review coming soon!) and I dive into the story.

Thank the book gods, I think I’ll be okay!

I have always enjoyed looking past a book’s surface and focusing on the details. Pacing, world building, and all the technicalities have always held a little magic for me. Suddenly I notice these intricacies more. I can read between the lines so much clearer now.

I am excited to post my next book review. I think it will be one of my better ones.

As far as my own book goes, I’m still stuck on island “next step is unknown”.

Anyone out there have any suggestions? A map? A guide? Anything? If so, please, send me a message in a bottle.  I could use some book direction.

Review of In Dawn and Darkness

in dawn and darkness

I have been waiting for this book.

I love this series. Ellison is probably best known for her Frost Chronicles, but in my humble opinion her best work is The Secrets of Itlantis series. The books are set in a beautiful futuristic fantasy world deep under the ocean, and there are several different cities and cultures that are wonderfully woven together. The book’s main character, Aemi, is flawed (like all good characters are,) but determined. The series has victory, loss, romance, a little comedy, and most importantly a lesson. All of the elements of a good fantasy novel are there. Of course, any decent YA Fantasy book should have all of these elements, so what sets this book apart from the eighty others I have read this year?

The writing.

I love authors who are poetic. I don’t want books to tell me it’s raining, I want them to show me how each raindrop cascades down the glass pane, leaving a trail of sparkling drops behind. I want beauty. I want quotable lines. I want the mundane to sound amazing.

Kate Avery Ellison is a pro at this.

The story is well woven, the plot is thick, and the pacing is on point. None of these things are spectacular, but they are good. The characters have their own personalities, and surprises are revealed as the story moves. It is a solid piece of work. But what sets it apart from other books is Kate Ellison’s specific style of writing.

The book isn’t perfect, which is why I am giving this book a 4.5 start rating. There are a few editorial errors, and parts of the ending seemed rushed. I think the romantic tension could have been more defined. However, the final chapter of this book gave the readers great closure, and the beautiful writing and creative world building make up for the small amount of typos. As far as the romance? Well, I always want more. That flaw is probably my own.

Overall, I loved it! I will be recommending this series to people, especially now that I know it remains strong to it’s end.

To purchase your own copy, click on the Book cover!

4.5/5 Stars!
4.5/5 Stars!