How’s the writing going?The main National Novel Writing Month is in November, but there are smaller programs in April and July.You’ll find hundreds of other writers sprinting or stumbling along, trying to find their path.I’ve been hearing buzz about Jessica Brody’s Save the Cat!Brody breaks these elements down into fifteen beats, following the methodology of Blake Snyder’s advice for screenwriters.All great novels, Brody argues, reprogram heroes.They transform human beings.And the beat sheet is essentially your reprogramming manual.Brody explains each beat with admirable clarity, and her insights about the challenging second act are especially worth reading.Act two is when your hero tries to solve their problem in all the wrong ways, and it’s also the point in the novel where you get to fulfill the promise of the premise, showing your hero in the thick of the action.Brody lists a number of common ways you can raise the stakes for your hero at the midpoint of the novel and then shows you how to ride the momentum of the midpoint all the way into act three.These analyses are smart and thorough, and they show off the depth and breadth of Brody’s reading.I admire Brody for relying only on novels for her examples, especially since she is working with a methodology drawn from screenwriting.But, she emphasizes, Your beats are not carved in stone.Nor should they be. As you write you will encounter challenges and opportunities, just as you do in life, that will cause your plans to shift.If you are concerned that following these fifteen beats will lead to formulaic writing, don’t be.As Brody points out, there are no new stories under the sun.So just throw that word out the window right now.What is achievable is fresh. It doesn’t take much shuffling to come up with a new way to tell the same story.Go watch Pretty in Pink and then read Grady Hendrix’s glorious ’80s pastiche novel, My Best Friend’s Exorcism, to see what I mean.Only you can write your story, and Save the Cat!This period of the year is always one of my most productive, and I’ve got a lot of exciting professional and creative projects lined up for the next two months before the distractions of summer set in.Maybe it’s time for you to do a sprint too?What could you get done in the next eight weeks if you shuffle your schedule or your priorities?As Browne and King point out, there are always multiple solutions to a given problem, and seeing how other writers clean up cluttered dialogue or a clunky sentence can teach you quite a lot.One of the great gifts of literature is that it allows for the expression of unexpressed thoughts. An actor can convey inner emotion through facial expression, body language, or the way a dialogue line is said.Novelists can do the same thing more deeply and effectively using interior monologue and action tags, so don’t neglect this powerful tool in your arsenal.While you don’t want to overuse this construction, you also don’t want to litter your novel with sentences that awkwardly dance around it.I’d also encourage you to keep filling up your writer’s brain with examples of what to do.Reading hones your writerly instincts and will give you confidence in your own choices.When you are reading, flag any sentence that makes you sit up and take notice.I frequently highlight passages on my Kindle to come back to later, and I also have a secret, antisocial Instagram account that I use to capture passages when I’m reading in print.Roast potatoes are another fraught area.How’s the writing going?My work has mostly been on hold this week as I played tour guide for visiting family.It was a giddy highlights reel of sights and sounds and tastes.But the image that sticks with me is one that I stored away at the very beginning of the week.

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Last-modified: 2022-06-28 (火) 00:40:04 (345d)