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Over 100 hours of classes on inspiration, brainstorming, plotting, characterization, scene creation, editing, pitching, selling, marketing, indie publishing, finding and keeping readers, interviews with the pros and much, much more!
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I remember the first time I got feedback on a story I’d written. “Overwriting.” “Flat characters.” “Unbelievable plot.” “Doesn’t draw me in.” I stared at the rejection letter, baffled. (While wiping my tears). I hadn’t a clue how to decipher the words on the page – let alone fix my story.
But, if I wanted to be published, I had to figure it out. We must learn to step back from our stories, look at them with a critical eye, figure out what a good manuscript looks like, and then use our unique voice to make that happen.
But how does an author look at their book objectively and make it publishable? You start with the Basic Writing Classes and build the right foundation for your novel.
The plot an intricate tangle of external goals and obstacles, twined with internal wants and problems. The want must push the character into the plot, at the right moment, ignited by the inciting incident, toward a goal. But standing in the way of that goal are obstacles, both external and internal, which conspire to cause the hero and/or heroine to take a good look at, and overcome, their problem, through the process of character change.
So they can do something at the end they can’t at the beginning and, well, save the day. Or live Happily Ever After. Preferably, both. We call this the “Push-Pull PLOT.”
When assessing your story, the first stop must be untangling that plot to look at all the pieces to make sure each is solid before re-building. That means an understanding of PLOT structure, how PLOT works in the life of the Character, digging down into Character to understand their unique role in the story, and laying out the story in the right rhythm.
But you can’t stop there.
Beyond creating the right “Push-Pull” PLOT/rhythm of your story, you much create a Character who lives beyond the page through your reader. A character must be at once inspiriting, yet believable. Broken yet brave. Willing to go on the “journey” of the story, regardless of personal cost. And, on that journey, he must face his demons, confront his worst fears…and change. It’s this compelling journey and change that a reader takes with them after the book is finished.
The second step in your journey is diving deep into your character, understanding the key elements that make him tic (We call this the Dark Moment) and weaving this journey subtly into the plot.
We call this The Story Equation and it is the secret to creating a unique and powerful story. In the Novel Academy, you'll learn how to use this powerful method for a unique and compelling story.
However, without compelling SCENES, your story will go nowhere.
The plot is simply the framework; the characters are the players. A great story is revealed scene by scene, in the right rhythm, to give the reader a powerful emotional response (as my friend Randy Ingermanson is known to say.)
Scene rhythm is accomplished by understanding the types of scenes, then understanding how to set them up correctly for powerful execution. A scene must be embedded with the right storyworld, dialogue and action to evoke the emotional response in the character, as well as the reader, it must cause the reader to want to turn the page to the next scene…and it must be shown, not told.
We teach authors how to go scene by scene to analyze and fix their stories – much like a designer might design each room in a house to flow together.
But that’s not all.
Readers are drawn to an author’s voice – the personality plus the prose on the page. Once the story is built, with the correct characters, and the scenes lined up properly, it must be overhauled, word by word, to eke out the author’s voice. This means grappling with grammar principles, and applying word-smithing skills. An author must understand the power of description, how to weave in the right character information (versus backstory), and what overwriting looks like.
They must also learn how to draw out the metaphors to embed the scenes into their reader’s hearts.
This is how you take your writing from good…to great.
But that's STILL not all!
We're not just about CRAFT but building your CAREER.
Susan May Warren is the USA Today bestselling, Christy, RITA and Carol award-winning author of over fifty novels with Tyndale, Barbour, Steeple Hill, Summerside Press and Revell Books. Two time Christy winner, RITA winner, she’s also a multi-winner of the Inspirational Readers Choice award, and the ACFW Carol award. A seasoned women’s events speaker, she’s a popular writing teacher at conferences around the nation and the author of the book, The Story Equation.
She is also the founder of Novel.Academy the school for novelists that builds writing careers!