Monday, September 20, 2010

The Plot Thickens

Last night, I came across Cornelle DeVille's blog. Like me, his blog is dedicated to "aspiring authors on their journey toward publication." A couple of weeks ago, he posted a recommendation for his fellow aspiring authors to take advantage of a set of YouTube videos posted by Martha Alderson, "The Plot Whisperer." I watched the first video and knew that I had stumbled upon a treasure.

I consider myself a writer aspiring to be an author; there is a difference.  When I was in high school desperately trying to select a college major, my father asked me an easy enough question: "What do you like to do?" The answer was simple (or so I thought). I replied, "Write. I like to write." Up until that point, the only creative writing I had explored was poetry, and my exploration was both private and academically unsupported. My father had encouraged my love of poetry when he discovered my early pre-teen work, but, he could not fathom a "career" as a poet. So, with his direction, I decided to major in English with a focus on journalism. Ah, ha -- a way to make a living writing. And so I took the road most travelled, forsaking my passion.

Fast-forward nearly 25 years and I've come full circle...and the plot does thicken. I write most days in my professional career in public relations. I've been a freelance writer for national publications. I've written broadcast commercial scripts, press releases, features, newsletter articles, proposals, grants, annual reports, and more. I am handsomely compensated for my work; I am also completely detached from my work.

I am finally returning to the place where a young girl dreamed in rhythmic words and phrases to the delight of "herself." I am a creative writer without the benefit of academics to help nurture my craft. So, I'm starting from scratch and savoring every moment!

And thanks to Cornelle and Martha, I will be studying plot over the next few weeks. I watched the first of six videos posted by Martha. She began her "plot whispering" lesson with pre-plotting and character (which helps in the creation of my first character sketch for a YA novel). She offered simple questions to consider: What does your character want? What are they working towards, what's their goal? The goal, she insists must be measurable. OK, I can handle this.

Her first example, to my delight, was the wildly popular Where the Wild Things Are.  In this story, Max's goal is to be a wild thing, to make mischief. Simple.

In response, I offer up three of my characters. Jasmine, who wants to be challenged. Chloe, who wants to stay hidden in her shell. And a little girl who wants to blend in. Believe it or not, I had not thought of any of my characters with goals. That short exercise connected and endeared me to these characters.

How Martha is going to guide me to the next step remains to be seen. Another blogger/author, Janice Hardy, and her Other Side of The Story blog reminds us that "Story is, but plot does." I have stories for each of my characters. I may also have weak plots. Who knows. I am an aspiring author with a passion for telling stories that children will love and a sincere desire to sharpen my writing craft to deliver on a promise. I will always be open to learning; it's a bare necessity.

Thank you for joining me on this journey. I can now honestly say, "I love what I do."

Always, Athena


  1. Thanks for the links, Athena. I'll definitely have to check these out!

  2. You're welcome, Andrea. The YouTube videos are really helpful. Enjoy...happy writing!