Barb:Hey, Jann, howâ€™s the story coming? Got it nailed down yet?
Jann: Well, I can tell you that my brain has been storming, thatâ€™s for sure. I have this seed of a story Iâ€™ve been wrestling with for months (soon to be a year). My plot and characters are all over the place. For years I have read and listened to some talented writers explain their writing techniques. Iâ€™ve tried out several, to the point that Iâ€™m totally confused on how to get this story on the page. I was pulling my hair out by the roots, so I sat down and asked myself this question, â€œwhich one do I feel most comfortable with?â€ Answer â€“ The Writerâ€™s Journey by Christopher Vogler. I guess it goes back to the beginning when I joined OCC and the first writing technique I was exposed to was a workshop given by Jill Marie Landis on the heroâ€™s journey. I found the handout Jill gave us breaking down the 12 steps (but canâ€™t locate the one she had completed with one of her books â€“ darn it) and pulled The Writerâ€™s Journey off the shelf and started to reacquaint myself with a tried and true concept. I have to say itâ€™s working. Itâ€™s slow, but working!
Barb: Thatâ€™s super, Jann! The Heroâ€™s Journey is a great tool for a lot of writers, but I have trouble using it for some reason. I usually start out with a germ of an idea for a story, a hook of some sort, and think about it for days before I write anything down. When Iâ€™m really excited about it and canâ€™t wait any longer, I get out a legal pad and start writing a story blurb or even a short outline. At that point I consult GMC and the three-act structure with its turning points (or plot points), midpoint, etc., to get the characters and story filled out. The three-act structure process seems to work best for me. I guess itâ€™s my love of the movies. I can break down my favorite movies into their three acts, and frequently refer to them for inspiration when Iâ€™m stuck. I believe the best handout I have on the subject is Lou Nelsonâ€™s Basic Paradigm Plot Definitions. She provided it to everyone who attended her â€œpajama partyâ€ at OCCâ€™s birthday bash last October. She included a blank three-act paradigm for everyone to fill out.
Jann: Barb, I think what we can take away from this is that not one process works for every writer. I say, whatever works for you, go for it.
Yes, indeed, whatever works for you, go for it! Or, if nothing is working for you – go for it! My husband, a tv writer, says, "Remember, you have to write something before you write something good." What he means is – just write it – do not worry about this and that – just get your ideas down on the page. Then edit, tweak, see what develops and what evolves.
I think there is something to be said for that – just write, and go from there. Like in the movie "Finding Forrester." Sean Connery tells his young protege Rob Brown to write, but the kid sits there at the typewriter thinking. And Sean Connery booms at him to write! Pound those keys!