Learning the Steps (from The Dance of Character and Plot) by DiAnn Mills

» Posted on Jul 26, 2013 in Blog | Comments Off on Learning the Steps (from The Dance of Character and Plot) by DiAnn Mills

This week I’m hosting  Elizabeth Goddard with Riptide (US. only for drawing) and DiAnn Mills with The Dance of Character and Plot (non-fiction). If you want to enter the drawings for the books, please leave a comment on one of the post during the week with your email address. I will not enter you without an email address (my way to contact you if you win). If you don’t want to leave an email address, another way you can enter is to email me at margaretdaley@gmail.com. The drawings end Sunday (July 28th) evening. 

71NsIvFXMvL._SL1500_Learning the Steps by DiAnn Mills

Every art form has its learning curve, and novel writing is no exception. Many people want to pen a novel, but few of them want to learn the steps to create a story that is exciting, entertaining, and publishable. A choice few writers are willing to make the sacrifice of time and effort to reach their dream. Are you one of chosen few? If so, continue on!

The joy of novel writing begins first with an idea, a burning passion to show a character struggling to achieve a worthy goal or solve a problem. The story keeps the writer up at night … thinking … plotting … wording dialogue. But before the story fills the pages of a book, the writer must learn the craft. That discipline may be frustrating when the writer is filled with story, and I’m not saying, “Don’t write,” but learn the craft along the way. A writer can always edit as he/she adds knowledge to her craft.

Where do you begin after the idea? I recommend characterization. Who are your hero (heroes) and villain? The study of character never stops. Writers are constantly building on the psychology and motivation of character. Much of the work begins before penning the first chapter, but much more about the character is learned through the writing process. Think of characterization like getting to know a new friend. The process takes time: asking the right questions, observing the person in action, and studying their unique personality. Many times a writer finishes a novel and heads back to editing only to discover the character at the end of the book is not the same as at the beginning. Sometimes that’s simply character growth, and other times it’s because the writer didn’t know the character very well.

 Plot or the story idea or storyline of a novel. It’s the sequence of events with twists and turns that the character encounters along the road to reaching his/her goal. Character and plot are a blend, each building on the other.

Genre is another important part of the novel beginning. What type of story best reveals your character and how he/she journeys toward the goal? Establishing the genre effects particulars about the characters, setting, word choice, dialogue, emotion, symbolism.

Setting is another aspect of novel writing that writers often neglect. The key is to always place your character in a setting that is antagonistic—always working against your character. Don’t ever make life easy for your character because the tough situations are what produce growth and positive change.

Dialogue is a powerful way to build conflict and tension. Readers demand confrontation from their characters, and what better way to show this stress than through words tossed like grenades.

Emotion is what causes your reader to keep turning pages. This tool of fiction is revealed through word choice, body language, sensory perception, showing a story, and symbolism. A writer who masters emotive conflict is on her way to a retailer’s shelf.

These concepts weave a story into a vivid, unforgettable story that is certain to entertain. Understanding the techniques of novel writing is a requirement for the beginning writer and one the advanced writer understands the learning curve never stops. In The Dance of Character and Plot, I show the writer, through explanation and technique exercises, how to create a story from idea to self-editing.

I challenge you not to give up on your story writing dreams. By commenting on your determination, you’ll be entered in a random drawing for my new nonfiction book The Dance of Character and Plot.

DiAnn Mills


The Dance of Character and Plot – June 2013

THE SURVIVOR – Zondervan – March 2013