How do you start your chapters? Do you start with dialogue? Why or why not?
It depends on the chapter, to be honest, and what happened before it. I start a lot of chapters with dialogue because it gets right to the point. It’s important to set up a scene and let the reader know what’s going on but 99% of the time, that can be done with dialogue. I start most of my first chapters in various WIP with dialogue. It gives the reader a little snippet into the mind of the person they’re about to go on this journey with.
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Write a snippet that starts with this sentence: “I don’t care, we can fix this.”
“I don’t care, we can fix this.” I frantically dug through the ashes, soot scattering into the air around us. The grey remains of charred paper stuck to my eyelashes and filled my lungs with a tar weighing me down. My heart was a block of concrete thrown into the sea.
“Whitney, it’s gone.” Rayn put her hand on my shoulder, attempting to pull me back to reality but I couldn’t accept it.
“No,” I muttered. “No no no.”
A small corner of parchment stuck up from the mess I had made with my ash caked hands. My fingers trembled as I reached for it. The remaining bit of our last hope reduced to nothing more than a shred of defeat.
“We’ll find another way.” Rayn replied. “We always do.”
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Rewrite a snippet but change one thing about it. What happens with the snippet?
I decided to change location. Setting is just as important in a scene as the dialogue and action. Something I like to do with location and put scenes in places that you wouldn’t associate with first. Like a scene out of a horror movie where the protagonist comes face to face with the demon in the baby’s room. A place that is supposed to be warm and safe is tainted with fear.
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Block 20 minutes to write and then tell us what you wrote about.
I wrote a passage for the sequel to my current WIP. It’s a passage where the girls get the lead they’ve been looking for from an old flame of my main character’s. To say old flame is an understatement because she very much still loves him. My protagonist doesn’t hear much of the critical information she’s been given because all she heard was his name. This is an important piece to the plot because as driven and focused as she is, he is her weakness and it’s a weakness that is definitely exploited by her enemies in the days to come.
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What influenced you in a surprising way?
Making pancakes. I was in the kitchen cooking breakfast and I was thinking about how important plot conversations aren’t usually held during the scenes filled with the most action. You want the reader to focus on what is happening or what is being said. So I pictured a couple of my characters making breakfast and I eventually ended up with an important missing puzzle piece in the plot.
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Share a funny bit you wrote recently
“No, like strange things.” The girl tried again.
“Strange things? Like UFOs and pixies?” Rayn jumped in, her head cocked to the side.
“Pixies, Rayn?” I asked, trying not to laugh. “Really?”
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Describe what’s supposed to happen in the second act. What will go wrong and what will go right?
The second act of Elements is supposed to be about the girls taking what they’ve learned and running with it, jumping head first in the pool. What will do right is they’re finally in the pool, finally submerged in the water they’ve been trying to get to for so long. What will go wrong is none of them stopped to check how deep the water they jumped into was.
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Apply the Seven Point Story Structure to a WIP, or to a new idea.
Introducing Dan Wells’ Seven Point Story Structure:
Plot Turn 1
Plot Turn 2
So, to be completely honest, this isn’t a structure that I was familiar with but I love the simplicity. At times, writers can over-complicate things but sometimes the best plot is the simplest. It’s me, I’m writers. This is definitely something I’m going to add into my toolbox.
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Pick an idea and write a short “shopping list” of what will happen in the story.
So I decided to pick the main core of the plot because I can be the most vague about it and it’s what everything that requires so much backstory explanation is built off of.
The two main sisters move to Rifton, Oregon.
The sisters meet Rose.
The sisters meet Lauren.
Rose introduces them to Brooke.
None of them trust each other, some of them hate one another.
They realize they have common ground, a desire to develop/learn about their abilities.
They go through shared trauma together.
They are bonded through their shared experience.
The five of them form the core of their found family.
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Do you use tools for plotting and what are they?
I use spreadsheets, but I use those for literally everything. My tools for plotting are a mix between google sheets and a “shopping list”. A shopping list is where you jot down the main plot points and the order in which they happen. Then I plug that into a spreadsheet and organize the list into chapters and plug in side plot lines and how it’ll all flow together. Spreadsheets help me see the larger picture of how each plot item leads to the next.
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