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andyk

What WE tool are you using now?

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This is related to the thread about the best thing you've learned from Writing Excuses, but hopefully covers something different enough to have value of its own.

 

I'm interested to hear what tool you've learned about from Writing Excuses that you're using right now. Why did you pick that, how's it working out for you, and have you run into any problems using it?

 

The one I've been using a lot lately is seven point story structure. I used it because I knew that my pacing needed work and I wanted a structured way of building in highs and lows of tension. Because I'm mostly writing short stories, a single plot arc with a seven point structure pretty much carries me through the whole story. It's definitely improved my pacing, and helped make my story planning more effective and detailed. And I'm a planning type of writer, so that works for me.

 

That said, after half a dozen stories done this way I'm starting to see a drawback. I'm writing a lot of stuff with similar structures. I haven't yet practised this structure enough to vary it much while keeping the underlying value, and I've wound up with several stories that have seven slightly disconnected scenes and map a little too neatly onto that structure. I think this is a limitation in how I'm using seven point, not the structure itself, but it's an interesting trap to fall into.

 

My other big one's Mary's '500 words per person or place' lesson. I've started bearing this in mind because I'm aiming for some short fiction markets with tight word counts. It recently helped me kill a darling and tighten up a plot. I don't have so much to say on this. It's a useful guideline and has its uses in battling world-builder's disease, but I don't suffer from that too much anyway.

 

So, what writing techniques are you folks using at present, whether from WE or elsewhere? Why did you pick  them, and what have you learned?

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I recently started listening to Writing Excuses on a friend's advice. I'm only on season two but am well and truly hooked.

 

I haven't gotten to their discussion on seven point structure yet (though the concept sounds intriguing), but I have published a couple of short stories. If you find yourself repeating...yourself, heed the hosts' warning against letting any story structure (hero's journey, three act, seven point, etc.) dictate too much of your plot and characterization.

 

Since you're a planning writer, go ahead and make an outline. Just be prepared to rewrite it if the characters start going down a more interesting path. Concentrating on economy and flow can also help you break out of a rut.

 

Best of luck!

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