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Manipulating Lives

Ah yes! The power of it all. A friend of mine traveled from Victoria, to spend two days with me. We’ve known each other for years. She’s written a number of non-fiction books for teachers and is a former colleague when we worked as school principals. But the most important thing is that she adores reading.

She is the perfect partner for a Plot Party. What is that you may ask? Well, for writers it’s an opportunity to get together and brainstorm where a book might be headed. We are creating plots.  Did I explain that I needed help? Oh yes.

I’ve been thrashing around in the mud. My thoughts were rambling and unformed. I didn’t understand my characters. What are their backstories? Why do they do what they do?

We used large sheets of paper (because that’s what former primary teachers tend to do) and we created plot points, important scenes and family trees. As an author I need to see where I’m going. More or less.  This in-depth work was desperately needed. Even though I may not incorporate all of the possibilities that we created, I will have a framework for my writing. And that’s how I write. I admire authors who can write ‘into the mist’ – ‘pantsers’ but it doesn’t work for me.

In order to do this, we utilized suggestions from Blake Snyder’s – Save the Cat and Michael Hauge’s 6 Stage Plot Structure Worksheet. These are screen writing books but definitely assist the novelist too.

In between, good food, mega naps and a lot of laughter, we achieved our goal. A plot-line all set up and ready to go.

And now: All I have to do is write it.




  1. Nice! I also get out the massive paper and washable markers, and make plot graphs while my kids doodle their own worlds on the kitchen floor.
    And I have found screen-writing resources to be invaluable for my genre fiction as it trains me to write visually.

    1. Yes. I love using large sheets of paper. I guess I’m a visual learner. And my screen writing books have been very helpful. Thanks for commenting.

  2. Hi Jodie,
    I love your post, as always written from the heart.
    I read somewhere that writing a book is like giving birth; it’s primal and messy and a wee bit painful.
    It sounds like you had lots of fun. Best of luck with the next stage.
    all the best,

  3. Thanks Jo-Ann. I guess I’m in that ‘no time to waste’ mode.
    Your description of writing a book is spot on. And yet we keep coming back to the page. Demonstrating our obsessiveness, I guess. The weekend was fun. And now onwards to dealing with the writing journey.

  4. It’s always so helpful when you have someone to bounce ideas around with. Using big sheets of paper helps too! Great tool for visualization of the plot and characters.

    1. Having another person to work with really helped out, that’s for sure.
      We truly came up with a number of possible directions that the story could go. And you’re right. I enjoyed using the big sheets of paper. Thanks for taking time to comment.

  5. Well done! Making the swirling thoughts in your mind real on paper. And you had immediate feedback from your good buddy, Mary. Carry on, plot in hand and over 13,000 words behind you.

    I like the picture–symbolic of the work. Should you have dripped a little blood, sweat and tears on the page? Then it would have really symbolic.

    1. You are correct Sharron. A little blood on the page would have been very dramatic! We settled for sweat. No tears, but a lot of laughing. Working with her, gave me a burst of energy, that’s for sure. Thanks for commenting.

  6. I’m glad you had help with the hard parts and can now see the light. I guess we all need to do things the way that makes sense to us – all I know is when you come up with the finished product, it’s stellar!!

  7. Thanks Mimi for the compliment. I’ve certainly discovered that every author I’ve met or read about, certainly has developed their own process over time.
    So, I guess I’ll stick with what works for me. Hope that you don’t have too much smoke up your way. Take care.

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