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I've been reading Tim Ferriss's fantastic book The 4-Hour Chef. Although Tim's book presents as a cookbook, it is instead a manual which teaches the reader how to learn anything rapidly. One learning technique Tim recommends is the creation of a "One-Pager." On one page he attempts to write down the most important concepts he must grasp to master a skill. I have borrowed Tim's idea, and created this One-Pager for fiction writing.
Hope it helps you on your writing journey,
The Theme is the lesson the reader learns from living the story through the eyes of the protagonist. Example: The Grinch: There is more to Christmas than gifts. You should be able to write down the theme of your work. The theme of a story is always tied to the protagonist’s internal conflict.
#2: Interior and Exterior Conflict
Ext. Conflict --> Compels hero to face -->Int. Conflict
The protagonist begins the story with an interior conflict. The resolution of this conflict—or lack of —conveys the theme of the story.'
Every event in the external conflict must impact the protagonist’s internal struggle. Example: Each of the three ghosts who haunted Scrooge forced him to examine his meaningless, miserable life.
The exterior conflict must be overwhelming because the protagonist will not willingly face his/her own interior struggle. Think dragons or robots from the future, not misunderstandings.
If an event does not touch upon the protagonist’s interior struggle the reader will STOP reading.
#5: Other Stuff
Use all five senses. Smell is the most powerful. Use it to evoke memories, to scare, to warn, to indicate joy or bliss, to convey the extraordinary.
Use juicy words.
by Kidd Wadsworth
#3: Show Don’t Tell
Reveal the story—and emotion—through action. Show what each character is doing.
She banged her head against the door. Not: she was frustrated.
He strolled along, lifting his chin, feeling the warmth of the sun on his face. Not: He walked slowly.
Remember: writing “She thought” or “He thought” is telling.
(from Save the Cat! Writes a Novel)
1% Opening Image (Act I)
5% Theme Stated
20% Upside-down world (Act II)
50% Midpoint (stakes go up!)
50-70% Bad guys close in
75% All is lost
80% Dark night of the soul
80+% Breakthrough (Act III)
100% Final Image (Dénouement)
(% indicates location in the novel. For a 120-page novel, 20% is p.24)