Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Writing Wednesday: A Provost Sentence & A Butcher Question

This is what I look like when I write. 

Seriously. I am black and white. I have several pencils, as well as hands. My tongue sticks out and I perspire like crazy!

One of my favorite little tricks when brainstorming and plotting is the Provost Sentence. I first came across it in Rubie's How to Tell a Story. It helps me with my structure. It helps me to make sure that I have a story worth fleshing out.

Here she blows:

* * * * *
Once upon a time, something happened to someone, and he decided that he would pursue goal. So he devised a plan of action, and even though there were forces trying to stop him, he moved forward because there was a lot at stake. And just as things seemed as bad as they could get, he learned an important lesson, and when offered the prize he had sought so strenuously, he head to decide whether or not to take it, and in making that decision he satisfied a need that had been created by something in his past.

* * * * *
Jim Butcher has his own sentence (I think he stole from a class at some time) which creates a story question.


You just fill in the plot of your story into these sentences.

If I can figure out my plot well enough to write these sentences (succinctly and with some intriguing) then I know I'm on my way to a good story. And when it comes to that point is novel writing that I have to write summaries and queries I feel one step ahead.

Hope this helps :)

P.S. Butcher's Dresden Files are free on Hulu right now. I love these. Purely food for the imagination.


  1. That is great advice Shelly. This thought is along the same lines: Write your query first.

  2. Great idea - you're starting off with a clear preemise that leads up to conflict. Good job!

  3. Fun! I'm contemplating plotting something new right now, so this might come in handy!

    Thanks for sharing on Writing Wednesday last week!

  4. sisters in another life!
    i look like calvin when i write too! shocked hair, gaping mouth, and freaked eyes =]
    great post, as uj!

  5. Awesome post! and Love the Calvin pic.
    I used to be a "sail the boat towards the horizon" writer, and now I've realized I need those tools like that plot sentence, and a (wince) outline/plot map. I prefer to call them plot maps, since I learned outlines in a painfully boring way. The world outline makes me cringe and shudder.

  6. That's really fun and helpful! Once I'm into a story and need to keep going but don't know what happens next, I pretend that I am telling a story to a child and the child says to me, "And what happens Next, Auntie Melissa????" And somehow that takes the pressure off and there I go...

  7. That's a great little tip Melissa. I might just have to use that sometime :)


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