Social Distancing and Writing Accountability #AuthorToolBoxBlogHop

Social Distancing and Writing Accountability

In the wake of the fast-spreading Corvid19 pandemic, we are facing many challenges. As writers, one is the message to practice social distancing. No, really, even the most introverted of us need human contact, especially when we’re told to avoid it.

But, Cheryl, you say, social distancing is what we live for. We’re experts! We could give lessons. You know, if we ever found ourselves in a room full of people who paid to listen to us, which won’t ever happen because, introverts.

social distancing

Ok, I’ve got you. We need our alone time. But we also, cautiously, selectively, need human interaction. Writing groups. Critique groups. Our BWFF (best writing friend forever) reading our work. Once in a while we have to reach out to another human.

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Cool Links 2-22-20 Edition

Cool links 2-22-20 Edition

It’s been <cough, cough> a while since I’ve posted my favorite websites from this week. Cool Links 2-2-20 Edition is now Live! Read about bees, Girl Scouts, Tom Hanks, and French bookstores.

Bees and Girl Scouts

When my daughter chose the project for her Girl Scout Gold Award, she raised ladybugs in our basement to battle an invasive local weed. I guess insects and Girl Scouts are a natural pairing as this article talks about how Colorado Girl Scouts make bee “hotels” to save their wild bees.

cocoparisienne / Pixabay

A Beautiful Day with my Cousin?

The recent Oscars ceremony reminded me of an article about one of my favorite actors, Tom Hanks. He not only played Fred Rogers in A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood, but discovered the two are cousins! Read this article to learn more.


A Tiny Traveling Bookstore

What’s a Cool Links blog post without mention of books? This article takes us to France, where local booklover Jean-Jacques Megel-Nuber takes his home (and bookstore) on the road. Imagine combining the love of books and travel with the sweet addition of making people smile as you pull into their town to sell them books? Win-win-win.

traveling bookstore cool links 2-22-20

Thanks for revisiting some of my favorite websites from the week of 2-22-20 (don’t you love all those 2’s?)

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#TT 19-1/2 Step Plotting Worksheet

19-1/2 Step Plotting Worksheet

It’s #ThrowbackThursday, and we’re in the wayback machine to last June, when the sun shone, the temperatures gladdened our hearts, and we could step out of our homes without bundling up like Randy from A Christmas Story. Enjoy this 19-1/2 step plotting worksheet.

19-1/2 step plotting worksheet

AnnaER / Pixabay

If you’ve always wanted to write a book but didn’t know where to start, this 19-1/2 step plotting worksheet can start you on your writing journey!

1.Pick a genre (more than two can be combined)

  • Romance
  • Suspense
  • Mystery
  • SciFi/Paranormal
  • Historical
  • Action/Adventure
  • Any other genre
  1. Choose a main character, your protagonist.

  • Lawyer/cop/detective
  • Artist
  • Homemaker
  • Sheikh/Tycoon/Billionaire/International Man of Mystery
  • Orphan/Virgin/Bride/Mistress
  • Any other character
  1. Create a setting.

  • A metropolitan city
  • Dude ranch/Yacht/Castle
  • Space, the final frontier
  • Other
  1. Pick a time period.

  • Present
  • Past
  • Future
  • Alternate reality
  1. Define the main character’s goal.

  • To achieve a specific task
  • To find something
  • Save the ranch
  • To find someone
  • Conquer the barbarians
  • Other
  1. Create a plan the character can use to get his goal.

What specific details will accomplish his need?

  1. Define the main character’s motivation.

This doesn’t have to be an external motivation—save the planet or conquer Mt. Everest. It’s a more effective motive, and will resonate deeper with the reader if it’s tied to an internal motivation, even if the character isn’t aware of why he needs to succeed. Maybe he had an awful childhood and wants to prove himself worthy by saving the planet. Maybe he has to climb Mt. Everest because he was responsible for the accident that crippled his mountain climbing brother. Dig deep into your character’s psyche.

  1. Create conflict, the obstacle standing in his way.

This is usually another character, the antagonist, who has an equally important (to him) but opposing goal. Is it another mountain climber who doesn’t want his record broken? Someone saving the environment?

  1. Create a goal and motive for the antagonist.

Does he want to conquer the world? Why? Were his parents worthless bums, and he has to prove he’s better? Or were they successful, and he has lived in their shadow all his life and now it’s time to show he’s his own man? Remember, the antagonist’s reason for acting the way he does (specifically, against the protagonist) must be real and logical, at least to him.

  1. Give the protagonist an ally, friend or mentor.

  • An ally or friend:
  • Acts as a conscience
  • Defines the protagonist’s character and values
  • Acts as a sounding board
  • A mentor gives the protagonist valuable wisdom he will use throughout the trials of his journey
  1. Give the antagonist an ally or helper.

  • Evil henchman
  • Minion

Do not make him stronger than the antagonist

  1. Create an inciting incident.

This is the catalyst that propels the protagonist into the thick of things. This should be an event so overpowering he makes decisions (usually for the bad) he normally wouldn’t.

  1. Create a deadline. This creates urgency and tension.

  • The train is due at 3:10 to Yuma, and the fair maiden is tied to the tracks
  • The bomb is set to go off in the fourth quarter of the Super Bowl
  • Little Johnny will die if he doesn’t have his medicine in 24 hours
  • Other
  1. Character Arc.

The protagonist changes over the course of his journey. He’ll make decisions at the end that he didn’t have the skills for at the beginning.

Write down how you think he’ll change.

What abilities does he need to gain?

How will he acquire them?

  1. Brainstorm key scenes you’d like to include. They might not be in the final version, but could act as a springboard for plot points:

  • Chase scene
  • Love scene
  • Red herrings
  • Climatic fights
  • Interesting plot twist
  1. Conflict and escalating action. The antagonist’s choices should throw him into deeper and deeper water. Find the one thing he’d never dream of doing, and force him to do it:

  • Climb a mountain to save his child when he’s afraid of heights.
  • Walk away from the company he built up over ten years to go to the woman he loves.
  • Speak before a Congressional committee when he’s self-conscious about his stutter.
  1. Tie up all the loose ends and subplots in reverse order they were introduced.

  2. The climax.

The protagonist and antagonist have been going at it for hundred of pages, and it’s come down to the final, big, black moment. It’s do or die, and only one will survive.

How are they going to duke this out? Describe the scene.

What’s really, really at stake for your hero?

What is his blackest moment, the darkest hour before the dawn?

Know the thing that makes him survive.

  1. Resolution. The reader needs a brief resolution, the catharsis to return to the normal world. What will you write to show this?

  • A happily ever after
  • The Hero dies
  • A bittersweet ending
  • An open end, hoping they’ll buy the sequel

19.5 Decide on a title and start working on your next novel. Good luck!

I hope this 19-1/2 step plotting worksheet helps you start writing your book. 

This article is one of many from The Plot Thickens:21 Ways to Plot Your Novel. If you’ve always wanted to write a book and didn’t know where to start, this book is for you!

Available for purchase on Amazon.

The Plot Thickens

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