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Tambra
April 2nd, 2009, 03:57 PM
LESSON TWO<O:p></O:p>


Backstory<O:p></O:p>

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Remember to begin you story at the point where the character’s life has or very quickly experiences a big problem that has stopped their everyday lives. That’s not to say you’re not supposed to know the backstory, you do. The trick is to trickle it in throughout the story and in places where it makes sense and will have the most impact.<O:p></O:p>
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Backstory immediately kills the forward pace of the story, which is why you need to ask yourself does it really need to be in there. If the answer is yes, then make sure your transitions are clear. Do this quickly as you can. Like a flashback, too much of this stops the action in the story.<O:p></O:p>
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Backstory is not something you need to be heavy-handed with. If background must be given, do it later (not at the beginning) but after you’ve pulled the reader in with the action of the story.<O:p></O:p>
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Don’t forget stories begin in media res, in the middle of things. Long passages describing the town, the location or pages of internalization jerks the story to a stop.<O:p></O:p>
To catch the attention of an editor you have a few paragraphs at most and having long detailed description of the beginning of the hero/heroine’s childhood, pets, home etc. won’t get you past the first reader at a publishing house. Always ask yourself, does this piece of information really need to be here? Does it move the story forward or reveal something important about the character?<O:p></O:p>
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What is Plot?<O:p></O:p>


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What is plot? <O:p></O:p>
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This is one of the best explanations of plot I’ve found. Ronald B. Tobias in 20 Master Plots has this definition— “Plot is story that has a pattern of action and reaction.” But Tobias continues, “Plot is a chain of cause-and-effect relationships that constantly create a pattern of unified action and behavior. Plot involves the reader in the game of ‘Why?’” <O:p></O:p>
The reader remembers the events, learns the characters and their relationships between each other all while trying to figure out the ending of the story. <O:p></O:p>
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Here is the definition of story. Story is only curiosity about what will happen. A relating of events, that is distant from the reader.<O:p></O:p>
In plot, the reader is engaged in asking why, while story only arouses curiosity.<O:p></O:p>
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The Tambra Kendall definition: Plot is when a character takes action to resolve the story problem.<O:p></O:p>
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Plot and character are inseparable.<O:p></O:p>

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Plot is the function of character, and character is the function of plot. They are bound together, like a Celtic knot work; you can’t see where it begins or ends.<O:p></O:p>
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To plot we also need a logical connection (action/reaction) as to why a character makes one choice as opposed to another. Just because there is a logical connection doesn’t mean it has to be obvious. This is what is meant by good writing in that is appears to be casual. What I mean is something like, “Uncle always kept his old military pistol in the desk. Aunt hated it, but she could never get him to lock it up properly.”<O:p></O:p>
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Another example: (An old one, but it works!) <O:p></O:p>
If you introduce a shotgun in your story, you don’t have to keep shoving it at the reader. If you place the shotgun in the story, the reader knows it is there for a reason in the plot. Introduce the item so the reader sees notices and goes on. The reader should remember seeing the object earlier when the appropriate time arrives. In this case, the shotgun.<O:p></O:p>
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Plot gives purpose and structure to a novel. <O:p></O:p>
Unified purpose and action is the core of plot. This happens because that happened-cause and effect. The unified purpose is what helps create the whole story: beginning, middle and end. This purpose or goal gives the character motivation and will also bring conflict.<O:p></O:p>
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Tobias goes on to say in 20 Master Plots, “When you ask yourself, what does my character want? You’ve begun the journey of plot. Plot is action, it moves, its dynamic. It is also organized. When you stop and think about it, when you begin plotting a story there evolves an organization of character and the events to develop a complete story.<O:p></O:p>
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In Bickham’s The 38 Most Common Fiction Mistakes, page 23 explains it this way:<O:p></O:p>
Something has changed.<O:p></O:p>
Your character is threatened.<O:p></O:p>
He/she vows to struggle.<O:p></O:p>
He/she selects a goal and starts taking action toward it.<O:p></O:p>
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It sounds simple, but so many of us have trouble getting it right.<O:p></O:p>
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To keep the plot moving forward and the character in action DO NOT give your character what they want right away or the story is over. <O:p></O:p>
By not giving them what they desire, you create tension and conflict. The characters must earn their happily-ever-after. The explanations of why a character decides something in the act of trying to reach their goal should fall in line with the type of character you’ve created.<O:p></O:p>
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Tambra
April 2nd, 2009, 04:12 PM
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When you reach the end of your story that contains the climax and epilogue, be sure the ending ties up all the questions that have been raised. <o:p></o:p>
Remember, the story question is concerned with the external conflict.<o:p> </o:p>




Character is Action<o:p></o:p>
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Character is action. How do you accomplish this? Does this mean you have to change the genre you write to suspense or thrillers? No, it doesn’t. <o:p></o:p>
To have a character in action, you turn their normal world upside down. <o:p></o:p>
This is where your story begins, the moment of change, of threat to their peaceful world. Using the character charts/profile from the last lesson, you’ll have an idea of how this person you’ve created will react to threat.<o:p></o:p>
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Start with the threat and the character’s response to it. By shaking up the character’s norm, this will bring out the internal and external GMC and begin the process of plot. <o:p></o:p>
The threat doesn’t always have to be life threatening. You can make the change unpleasant. Tossing in something to mess up the character’s status quo doesn’t always mean a life and death threat. Knowing your character gives you the tools that will knock them off kilter, disturb their ordered world.<o:p> </o:p>
Events such as marriage, divorce, abuse, fear of heights, kids, being fired from a job, tragedy from the elements…all signify change in a person’s life. I’m sure you can think of many more. Any of this would affect how the character views their world. These elements can also be a threat to the character.<o:p></o:p>
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Jack M. Bickham says, “Nothing is more threatening than change.”<o:p></o:p>
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What keeps readers turning the pages, waiting to buy our next book? Readers are hooked by characters they can care about and the action this character takes to achieve the story goals. They want to find out what happens. <o:p></o:p>
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An active character is a character who wants something so desperately they will take action to get it. It also will make the reader turn the pages to discover what will happen to your hero and heroine. Passive characters bleed into the white page. Readers want to be entertained and by providing interesting, three dimensional characters this will happen.<o:p></o:p>
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We draw upon our experiences to create plot. This is why writers look for universal plot themes when they write. It’s okay if you don’t know what the universal theme is of your book. For romance, many times it is love conquers all.<o:p></o:p>
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Plot<o:p></o:p>

Action creates plot. <o:p></o:p>
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Without tension/conflict, you have no plot. (Jack Bickham) <o:p></o:p>
Without action there is no character, and without action there is no plot. (Ronald B. Tobias, 20 Master Plots, page 55).<o:p></o:p>
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Debra Dixon from: GMC –Goal, Motivation and Conflict:If your character doesn’t take action right now, the urgency fizzles. The pace halts and you risk the reader putting down your book and never picking it up again.<o:p></o:p>
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In romance novels falling in love is a conflict the character wants to avoid. Falling in love should impact the goals and choices of the hero and heroine. Romance is conflict.<o:p></o:p>
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Why can’t they fall in love? Will this affect the character internally, externally or both? This is an important element to the plot as romance writers. This adds lovely, sexual tension not to be confused with the actual act of sex itself. The push/pull between the hero and heroine that sizzles the pages.<o:p></o:p>
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The character profile/charts in the last lesson will help you see what elements will affect the character and give you ideas on how to add plot to the story.
<o:p> </o:p>Character Decisions<o:p></o:p>
When a character is making a decision; be sure you have consequences for the actions they take. This starts the character on the road to personal change. By the end of the story the main characters should grow, become better than they were at the beginning of the book.<o:p></o:p>
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The difference between Plot and Story<o:p></o:p>
Tobias from 20 Master Plots: Plot involves the reader in the game of why? Plot is not story. Story only makes the reader curious of what will happen next.<o:p></o:p>
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