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Two Questions

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robinbird79
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Two Questions

Post by robinbird79 » Mon January 30th, 2012, 4:08 pm

Two rather random questions I haven't been able to work out on my own. :)

1. I do my writing on M. Word and I was curious if there was any particular way I needed to set a page up (margins, font size, separating chapters, etc) or to just keep typing.

2. I have all the major events for my WIP figured out but I'm having a hard time filling in the time between these plot advancing events. Any suggestions?

Thanks (and hope my questions were clear!)!
Currently Reading: Crown in Candlelight, R. H. Jarmen

http://almostcrazymommy.blogspot.com

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MLE (Emily Cotton)
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Interest in HF: started in childhood with the classics, which, IMHO are HF even if they were contemporary when written.
Favourite HF book: Prince of Foxes, by Samuel Shellabarger
Preferred HF: Currently prefer 1600 and earlier, but I'll read anything that keeps me turning the page.
Location: California Bay Area

Post by MLE (Emily Cotton) » Mon January 30th, 2012, 4:50 pm

If you are using Word, you can pretty much do it any way that works and just re-format the whole thing when you are finished.

Agents, etc want 1" margins, standard fonts (like Times New Roman, Arial, or Courier New), double-spaced, with a header or footer with your name and the document. Each will have different requirements, so I figure I will re-format the MS to whatever each wants and work in my own preferred format.
I prefer to see on the screen what I would be reading on the page of a 'real' book. So I use Georgia as my standard font (less compressed than TNR, and NOBODY prints a book in Courier New) and I set up the pages so the text comes out similar to a 6" x 9" trade paperback, which is to say a 4" x 6.5" block of text-- 2.25" margins all around.
This has the added advantage that you can save the page in pdf format and tell adobe acrobat to print it as booklets. I make them 10 sheets each, or 40 pages (4 pages to the sheet), so the stack isn't too deep to staple through the centerfold. This holds and reads like a normal-sized book, which makes it easier for your test readers, not to mention yourself. I just discovered that acrobat will do this automatically, and since then I have cut-and-pasted no end of documents into little 5.5" x 8.5" booklets. You do have to have a 2-sided printer, tho.

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Matt Phillips
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Post by Matt Phillips » Mon January 30th, 2012, 8:23 pm

[quote=""robinbird79""]
2. I have all the major events for my WIP figured out but I'm having a hard time filling in the time between these plot advancing events. Any suggestions?

Thanks (and hope my questions were clear!)![/quote]

I think one thing that's been helpful for me to keep in mind is to avoid filler at all costs. Every scene should result in a change in the protagonist's situation and move the plot forward, even if only in a small way. That can come from new information, a change in the characters' relationship prompted by (and shown in) dialogue, any number of situation-altering actions, etc. It can also come from the protagonist's reaction to any of those changes.

Two of the most helpful pieces of story structure guidance I've ever gotten are the following:

- In every scene, the protagonist needs to have a goal that connects directly to his/her overall quest or the conflict he/she needs to resolve. Each scene also needs to present a change in circumstances for the character, whether big or small, that hinders (usually) or helps (sometimes) the character move toward that goal. If you can identify the goal (connected to the larger conflict/quest), complication, and resulting change for the protagonist in each scene, that tells you the scene contributes to moving the plot forward. Read Robert McKee's Story and Jordan Rosenfeld's Make a Scene for more on this.

- The other thing that's helpful to remember is to make sure each scene involves character actions appropriate for that part of the story arc. Story structure can vary widely, obviously, but the vast majority of successful stories are some variation on the classic three-act structure. Your scenes in the first quarter or third or so need to set up the major conflict/quest for the protagonist. In the second act, which includes the second and third quarters of the story, the character needs to (first) react to the quest/conflict, experience a major shift in the conflict at the midpoint, then take a more proactive stance toward the conflict in the third quarter of the story. Finally, from the three-quarters mark or so onward, the character has finally acquired the final "missing piece" - whether an ability, piece of information, or whatever - allowing him/her to move toward a final confrontation and resolution, either success or failure in dealing with the major conflict.

This structure tells you - roughly - where to put your major plot points and how the character's mission changes throughout the story arc. A great resource on this is Larry Brooks's Story Engineering. Larry also has a lot of great info at his blog, http://www.storyfix.com.

Good luck!

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robinbird79
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Post by robinbird79 » Wed February 8th, 2012, 1:36 am

[quote=""Matt Phillips""]I think one thing that's been helpful for me to keep in mind is to avoid filler at all costs. [/quote]

This is what I'm so afraid I'll end up doing. Everything I write I second guess and think it sounds...like filler. :)
Currently Reading: Crown in Candlelight, R. H. Jarmen

http://almostcrazymommy.blogspot.com

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bevgray
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Post by bevgray » Wed February 8th, 2012, 12:49 pm

What helps me is to write the narrative as it comes. Sometimes, it's almost an extended outline with a lot of white space between. Then, as you go back and start editing, you begin to fill in things. Sometimes things happen later in the narrative that I'm not expecting so those blank spots make very good bridges to capture information or characters that have an impact on that later chapter.

The biggest trouble for me is if I plan too much in detail, edit too soon, backtrack to get that scene I wrote "just" right, I tend to get bogged down and it becomes a real bear to extricate myself (back in December, I spent three grueling weeks on a single chapter). I know better but I was obsessed.

I keep the format simple. Manuscript margins, Times New Roman 12, etc. Formatting, proof-reading, editing are separate tasks that should be treated as such since each requires a different discipline.

I once worked with a gentleman who would sit and just stare out a window for three or four days. He wouldn't write down a thing or type it out (pre-PC days). When he did start to work, he'd bang furiously on the typewriter for a couple of days and would turn out work that was pretty flawless; save for the occasional typo or grammatical oopsie.

The trick is to figure out what works best for you. Anything that holds you back or interrupts your narrative flow may indicate that the process is not sympatico with the way your creative imagination works. It can take time to figure out your own methodology. As far as I know, there is no right or wrong way.
Beverly C. Gray
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LoveHistory
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Post by LoveHistory » Wed February 8th, 2012, 4:25 pm

I type my manuscripts in whatever the set-up already is and use either Times New Roman or Century Schoolbook font in 12 pt.

I don't worry about filler at all during the first draft. That's what editing is for. After the draft is done, and I've taken some time to clear my head, I can cut anything that's not pertinent to the story.

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fljustice
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Post by fljustice » Wed February 8th, 2012, 4:38 pm

[quote=""robinbird79""]I have all the major events for my WIP figured out but I'm having a hard time filling in the time between these plot advancing events. Any suggestions?[/quote]

It's perfectly okay, maybe even preferable, to skip the "filler" between plot advancing events. Use a transitional sentence, "Six months later..." or chapter headings "Rome, August 410" to clue the reader to a time jump. I just finished a book on Kublai Khan where the author clued the reader about time jumps by having the Kublai reflect/remark on the growth of his son somewhere in the first pages of a chapter (covered twelve years from toddler to teen this way!)
Faith L. Justice, Author Website
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