Tuesday, July 31, 2012

3 Things I Learned from EJ Patten

What am I reading now?  Carrier of the Mark (Leigh Fallon)

Annnd . . . what do I think so far?  First of all, what a beautiful, creative cover. And now that I've read the book it's amazing!

I love the Irish flavor to the book and the link to elemental magic. It has great action (but not so much it overwhelms the story) and a satisfying romance between Adam and Megan. They've both had some hard things happen and they have to learn to trust. It's sweet to watch. They're a little awkward but when they decide to go for it, they are both stronger because of the relationship.

The supporting characters are interesting too. I'm glad this is a series so I can see what each of them will do as they try to resolve a greater problem. The book ends at a good point but we know there will be more--can't wait!

3 Things I Learned from EJ Patten
last Friday at the Writers' Workshop

Some things I heard from EJ Patten (The Hunter Chronicles, Return to Exile) in his session about Character-driven Plotting last Friday...

"Ask 5 whys."
          I've always heard that any time you have a character take action you have to know why they would do that. This ensures our plots are valid and believable. Eric said we shouldn't just ask why; we should ask "why?" five times. By following this piece of advice, we can create the depth the story needs to sustain the readers' interest.

"The first action belongs to the Antagonist."
          The action the antagonist takes is why we have a story in the first place. If a protagonist had a problem they wanted to solve or a goal they wanted to reach, it wouldn't be much of a story if they just solved it or achieved it. The antagonist make it a story.

"Subplots arise from character relationships. If you have a sagging middle, you don't know your characters well enough."
          Eric explained that the plot carries interest in the main storyline. However the middle of the story is carried by the conflicting wants and needs of the characters, all the characters. When we know each character well enough, the middle can be used to examine how each character tries to get what they need, while the Antagonist and Protagonist are also working on their goals.
          He gave us 4 Questions to ask each and every character in our stories to get to know them:
          1) Who are they?
          2) What do they want?
          3) How are they going to get it?
          4) What's stopping them from getting what they want?
He said that when we know these answers, we can create a beginning, middle and end for each character making the story a richer reading experience.

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1 comment:

Tera Mecham said...

Great tips, Canda! I always enjoy reading your blog.