Monday, November 16, 2009

Nanowrimo, Day 16, Stuck? Make a list.

While I was teaching at the retreat I talked about last post, I kept stressing over and over and over again the usefulness of making lists. Specific, personalized, Top Ten lists.

I am pretty sure there is no story problem that cannot be solved by stopping the hair-pulling and gnashing of teeth, breathing a bit, and then sitting calmly down to make a list of examples of the way great storytellers (YOUR favorite storytellers) have dealt with the particular problem that you are tearing your hair out and grinding your teeth over.

Can’t figure out a great opening? List your Top Ten favorite or most striking opening images.

Your villain isn’t villainous enough? Make a Top Ten Villains list, and take some time to really break down why those bad boys, or girls, turn YOU on. (More here….)

Your story isn’t hot enough? Have some real fun and list your top ten steamiest sex scenes – and/or best kisses. (Warning: try to have some loved one close at hand for later… better yet, make a night of it – rent the movies and... analyze... those particular scenes together. Don’t you just love research?)

Not enough suspense? List your top ten most thrilling suspense scenes (More here)

Top Ten Character Introductions (see here). Top Ten Climaxes (story climaxes, I mean now). Top Ten Heroes and Heroines. Top Ten Inciting Incidents. Top Ten Calls to Adventure. Top Ten Crossing the Threshold/Into the Special World scenes. Top Ten Image Systems (see here).

Are you starting to get how incredibly useful - and fun – this can be?

Make the lists. You’ll be unstuck and on to a whole new level of writing before you know it.


The Screenwriting Tricks workbook is now up in all e formats, including on Smashwords, where yes, you can finally download it as a pdf file or whatever format you want. Any version - $2.99!

- Smashwords (includes pdf and online viewing)

- Kindle

- Barnes & Noble/Nook

- Amazon UK

- Amaxon DE (Eur. 2.40)



Suzannah-Write It Sideways said...

Oooh, I love lists. My husband always teases me that I have lists lying everywhere. They really are useful for getting down thoughts quickly and efficiently,though. Thanks!

L.J. Sellers said...

I make lists like crazy, but I've never made these specific kinds of lists. I see one in my future, though. (NaNo is actually going well for me. I hit 22,000 words today; on target for my own goal.)

Anonymous said...

It was very interesting for me to read the blog. Thank you for it. I like such themes and anything that is connected to them. I definitely want to read more soon.

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Liz Rebellione Valentine said...

Love your books but too bad at my country its so hard to find...~But good job~ And nice post.~

laughingwolf said...

dang alex... thx for opening my eyes to these possibilities

Roz Morris aka @Roz_Morris . Blog: Nail Your Novel said...

I'm a great fan of lists - I make columns of the pros and cons of a particular plot decision, or whether a character should be changed to female. But I'd never thought of making lists of effective passages from other novels - thanks!