1. If you mean a structure, then apart from it having a beginning, middle and end, no. Tends to vary from story to story. 2. Sure. Writing to a template is big business in thrillers (e.g. James Patterson) and many genre writers develop a familiar style, the way some bands use the same three chords their whole career. It's coming up with the first one that's the tricky part. Milking it to death is where the money is.3. Hard to say. I'm easily bored so the repitition would be a bit hard to stomach, but if there was a demand and lots of money involved who knows.moodMoody Writing@mooderino
Well, there a "classic" structure for plotting that many novels and movies follow (e.g. see Save the Cat by Blake Snyder). I'd wonder if having a magic formula would take away from the uniqueness. On the other hand, it might teach you a lot about plotting. I'd probably try to follow it once and then change it.
Like Andrea, I'm fond of Blake Snyder's Beat Sheet. But I don't follow it to the letter.
Awesome questions ^_^Back when the fame of Harry Potter was spawning off-shoots left and right (or at least, at the peak of it), my friend and I took all the similar middle-grade novels and wrote the ultimate Q&A for someone to write their own using the same formula. Down-trodden kid in a desparate situation loses people close to them, and is abused until they find a different world and that they're very powerful/famous/popular there, and with the help of close friends, conquers all in both places.It was two pages or more, though, so that's just the short version :-D
Thrillers and some horror write to a certain formula. I would love a formula. However, if one existed then everyone would use it, and I would be back where I started. :P
I agree, Blake Snyder's beat sheet is a great reference. Personally though, I find myself using Dan Well's seven-point structure. It's really simple and helps identify natural rises and falls of tension. I also think it's good to be familiar with the classic hero journey, made famous by Joseph Campbell. Do I follow these to a tee? No, of course not. But I view it like grammar. If you don't know the rules, you risk looking like a meandering idiot. If you know the rules so well you can break them, you look like a stinkin' genius.
I am all about the plot whisperer. You have got to check out her You Tube series...it rocks in a big way!!!
Hi, Shelly,I tend to write my fiction as I did assignments for a daily newspaper. I start off with a Word document titled "NOTES" and start brainstorming. Then I start doing research, so that's the first subfolder in my book's main folder. Then I start having Word files and/or subfolders for all the major sections of my plot and my characters.Then the magic starts to happen, as I let my characters talk to me about their problems, their fears and their dreams, so now I have a drafts folder. I start with a pivotal moment and keep building the suspense until I have conflict resolution. And it takes only a couple of years in amongst my day job for all of this to happen. :)I know there are formulaic book series and genres out there, but I'd prefer to look at them only to ask myself what makes these books popular and how can I also capture reader interest while coming up with something fresh. I'm concerned a formula will give me false confidence, when what I really need to be doing is believing in myself and listening to my characters.What a thought-provoking question! By the way, I've left a response to your comment at http://michellefayard.blogspot.com/2011/07/i-just-had-to-ask.html.Michelle
It'd be nice if there was a formula. But then I'd get bored [as I do with books that follow one]. Creativity comes in reinventing it. Yes? That's where we can be original.
Is there a magic formula? Probably not. Maybe the ones that seem formulaic follow some typical pattern. I know those series that get churned out every few months have a pretty specific formula.
I've finally realized that the only formula that works for me is a mixture of a bunch of formulas. I think you have to try each one to feel which one works for you.
I don't know of a formula that works. I'm writing my first YA historical fiction. What has worked for me is writing from personel experiences, researching the time period which adds all kinds of interest and depth, and finding my main story arch. Then I developed my characters and let them goooo! So far so good?
No formulas, but lots of magic, I say. I'm not a big out-liner beyond getting the major points down. I have used a type of "visual" board before, giving each chapter its own column so I can jot down notes and so forth. When I think formulaic writing, I think Harlequin or Nancy Drew--lots of different writers following a set of specific guidelines.
I sometimes wish there was a magic formula, but that's possibly also because I'm a pantser, which means part way through the writing I realize I have no idea what is going on. Panic sets in, flailing ensues, etc. Haha.So yeah, I'd CONSIDER using a magic formula if there were one, but it'd depend on how magic the formula was and if it works for the story I'm trying to tell. :)As some people have said, there are certain series and genres that tend toward a formulaic approach, but they can still retain freshness if the author knows what he/she is doing.
I wouldn't use the magic formula. I would rather do things my own way.
Isn't the whole point of writing to break out of the mold? Do you want a formula so you can make sure you don't use it--sly...Shelly...sly.I used to love Mary Higgins Clark in High school until I realized every story she wrote was the same. Then I got really bored. No formulaic writing please.
I'm part plotter, part pantser. But I'm not really into formulas. The stories kind of evolve for me after doing a very loose outline, and I like that creative process.
Thanks everyone! These comments have been great!
Formulas get boring after a while. I don't like knowing what is going to happen in a book, simply because I know it's following that genre's typical structure. I like to be surprised! "Different" can be very refreshing :)
Eek, I'm afraid I can't help you with this one. I'm a pantser at heart. I don't know anything about outlines. Sorry. Wish I could be more helpful after the lovely comment you posted on my blog.
My mom called me about four months ago with what she viewed as an ingenious idea. We could put our heads together and co-write a series of mysteries that all follow the same format. She continued on to explain the structure, and how so many other famous, well-established authors have used the same technique. From the moment she said format I found myself stifling yawns. Maybe I'm an idiot for shooting her down, but for me it would be torture, completely boring. Magic formula or no, I like my writing experience to be a little more organic.
I use Save the Cat, but I don't write to it. I use it to help me out of writer's block. If I know where I'm going and sometimes have trouble with the what should happen when, the template is nice to refer to. I do like a book with a good structure, so I think it's good to be aware of.Nice to meet you. I'm at laurabwriter.blogspot.com Though I'm only focused on writing these days, my bachelor's was in acting. I WILL return to the stage one day! (when my kids are older :)
I just finished reading Story Engineering by Larry Brooks just an hour ago. It seems that about a quarter of the book was dedicated to that topic. I don't think I'll follow it to the letter, but it gave me some ideas. I've got a few bookmarks on my home computer, I'll send them your way when I get home from vacation.
Oh yeah...think about the stories that have endured and the new classics:The Odyssey, Epic of Gilgamesh, Lord of the Rings, Star Wars...we have a hero, going on an impossible quest, he has early success, then everything falls down around him. His now has to rely on his boys to help him out, he grows, he fights again and this time wins.
Aprilynne Pike did a great Authors' Advisory call on outlining. You should check it out. (I was the interviewer.) ;) I love her system, and it's already what I sort of use. http://authorsadvisory.blogspot.com/2011/04/11-aprilynne-pike-outlines.html
The best examples of story structure are Syd Field's Screenplay and Joseph Campbell's monomyth. Syd Field's book highlights the essential elements of your plot. The Monomyth breaks down all story outlines into 17 steps. George Lucas used Campbell as a consultant on Star Wars. Both changed the way I outline. (note: I am 100% plotter, 0% pantser)http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Monomyth
http://laceydevlin.blogspot.com/2010/07/spreadsheet-plotting.htmlhttp://www.advancedfictionwriting.com/art/snowflake.phpAre these what you are talking about?
Martha Alderson's "Blockbuster Plots," and Donald Maass' "Writing the Breakout Novel."They have great advice for sculpting your plot to reach its maximum potential!
I've just recently got The Novel Notebook by Lynn Viehl that's good for plotting and Scene and Structure by Jack Bickham goes into even more detail. I suppose it depends what genre you write how structured you want to be.
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