Leo's Angel Oak Tree

Saturday, July 30, 2011


Well, I'm back home in Texas. YAY! One thing I hate about traveling is my hubby always wants to do these crazy long drives at night.  It makes me nervous for two reasons. One, I get incredibly sleepy at night and he expects me to keep him awake. Two, the crazies come out at night which makes stopping for fuel a really scary experience. However, I see his point, too.  There is a lot less traffic at night and we make really good time.  So needless to say, we made it back safe and sound. Now aren't you glad because today I am revealing Cheryl Klein's three types of plots. 

In her book, Second Sight: An Editor’s Talks on Writing, Revising, and Publishing Books for Children and Young Adults, Ms. Klein says that in all novels you can pretty much narrow down the plot into three categories. The mystery plot, the conflict plot, and the "lack" plot.

The mystery plot is a structure where the MC goes through a quest for an idea.
The conflict plot is a structure where there is a MC vs. MC or MC vs Idea.
The "lack" plot is a quest for fulfillment.  It is often internal.

You must have at least one action plot, says Ms. Klein. So which category best describes your central action plot?

Within one MS, you could have a combination of these plot types. That's where subplots come in.

A subplot is any change that is not central. Every novel should have at least one subplot to give depth and complexity to the novel.


1. List all of your plots and subplots in your novel.
2. Write out how each subplot  contributes to the central action plot.
3. Then ask yourself these questions:

Was the process easy or tortured?
Do any of your subplots serve the same purpose?
Is the connection mostly thematic or emotional? Can you strengthen the action connection? Or cut?

4. Narrow the plot structure to one central action/emotional plot and subplots that clearly contribute to the central plot.

Well, that's it.  I really connected with the "Justify Your Existence" portion of the webinar.  Not only has it helped me in my revision process, but I've also used this technique to critique some of my Beta BFFs manuscripts.  Totally helpful!

I hope you learned something new today about the different types of plots.  Stay tuned for tomorrow's gripping conclusion on this series: Plot Structure & Book Maps!

Friday, July 29, 2011


It's the end of summer for me, which means I'll be heading back to Texas to get ready for the upcoming school year.  But don't fret, I'll still be blogging and writing.  I'll be driving back home today after a great vacay with my hubby, but I wanted to get this blog post up before I left. So, enjoy and the next time I blog will be from home sweet home!


A character-based view of plot means that the plot of your novel is character driven.  And in my humble opinion, it should be.  Characters are the heart of story even though you might have a message you're trying to teach. Ms. Klein says that characters have a lot to do with plot.  Here are some things to consider:

1. Establish a character with a drive of which he or she may not be aware, or something to gain/lose, or both.

2. Story presents character with a situation.

3. Plot should force the character to make decisions.

4. In the new situation, the character's drive is seen.

5. What is your MC's thing to be gained or lost? What does he/she want? What is his/her desire?

6. In a book, something is broken.  The plot should dramatize it.

How does your character drive your plot?

Up next: Day 6: The Types of Plots

Thursday, July 28, 2011


Characters, oh characters! I've been reading a lot of character development lately.  I have some wonderful books about the subject which I will review for you in later blog posts, but today I want to share what Cheryl Klein had to say about characters.

Everyone wants an original character, a MC that stands out from all the others. How can you achieve that when even Nietzsche said, "There's nothing new under the sun"? How do avoid cliche characters?

Ms. Klein gave some tips during her webinar that were very helpful.  I hope you don't mind a list.

1. Make the characters new: Turn the cliche upside down like Suzanne Collins did with Katniss Everdeen.  She made her a hunter (not your typical girl attribute).

2. Give the character an unusual desire.
3. Make the MC the viewpoint character.
4. Give the character a cause readers can root for because it's interesting, morally right, or has high stakes.
5. Give the character some expertise.
6. Makes the character liked by other people or make the character disliked by people the reader also dislikes. For example, most readers dislike the Dursleys (Harry Potter), so the fact that the Dursleys hate Harry makes him more lovable to readers.
7. Have the character take action or show energy.
8. Put the character in pain or jeopardy (anticipated pain)
9. Don't be your character's mother! Let them makes choices you might not make or approve of.
10. Make your MC human. That means flawed, unpredictable, weird, full of secrets. The more complicated you make the character, the more complicated the plot can be.

REVISION TIPS for Characters:

First Impressions: Look at the first ten pages of your WIP.  Which characters appear?  Write out the first ten things the character(s) says or does.  Who is the character based on just that information.  Remember you're painting a picture of that character's personality and value to the story.

Up Next: Character-based View of Plot

Wednesday, July 27, 2011


Let's get to it with an explanation of action plots and emotional plots.

Some writers say to sell novels today, you really need to focus on the action plot. But others say it's better to feel something when you read.  I say you need both, and Cheryl Klein agrees.  She said (in the webinar) that action plot adds the entertainment while the emotional plot adds depth.

So, what is action plot and emotional plot? Well, I'll tell you... (Beware, examples come from Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone, The Hunger Games, and Divergent.  If you haven't read them, there might be spoilers.)

Action Plot: This is a change in circumstances for your character. 

In Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone, it's when Harry goes to Hogwarts. In The Hunger Games, it's when Katniss takes her sister's place at the Reaping. In Divergent, it's when Tris chooses Dauntless.

The Action Plot is when the story moves forward.  Having the characters doing things, not just being idle in the plot, enhances the action plot.

Emotional Plot: This is a change in emotion for your character.

In Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone, the emotional plot begins when Harry feels unworthy to be at Hogwarts and all the fame. In The Hunger Games, the emotional plot begins when Katniss must come to terms with the fact that she might never see Prim, Gale, or her mother again.  When she grabs her mother by the arm during their goodbyes and yells at her to take care of Prim. In Divergent, the emotional plot begins when Beatrice must make the decision to leave her family in Abnegation. It's from this point that Beatrice starts to transition as a character into Tris.

The Emotional Plot is when the protagonist develops internally. Meaning and theme enhance the emotional plot.

Can you identify the action plot and emotional plot within your WIP?  If not, this would be a great way to begin revision.

Stay tuned tomorrow for Day 4: Character Development

Tuesday, July 26, 2011


Today, I'll be continuing my review of the webinar, How to Plot and Structure Your Novel by Cheryl Klein.  Let's talk about the ten Basic Principles of novel writing.

1) Write your story: First drafts are just that. Let the words fly!
2.) On your second draft, tighten up the plot by focusing on your points. Learn about points here.
3.) Identify plot points by changes: Does a change of some kind happen in the course of your book?
4.) The change should happen to the protagonist.
5.) Action Plot & Emotional Plot (more on that tomorrow)
6.) When the change happens, it is the start of the emotional plot.
7.) Plot ends when the change is over or points have been achieved.
8.) When you reach the climax, the book should end within three chapters.
9.) Entertainment comes from the Action  Plot, Meaning comes from the Emotional Plot.
10.) Plot matters only if readers are interested in the character(s) involved.

Monday, July 25, 2011



This is a wonderful idea on how to get the support and encouragement of NANOWRIMO anytime you want it!! It is the brain child of Ali Cross (http://www.alicross.com/2011/02/introducing-ninja-novel-writing-month_03.html).  Please, join the dojo and gets some writing done!! Let me know if you join(in the comments section) and I'll follow you! 

Below is the introduction blog from Ali's Blog:

Introducing: Ninja Novel Writing Month!

YOU are a writing ninja.

You train until your writing muscles are weary and your brain just can't take any more.

Then you train some more.

You often work under the cover of darkness.

You kill your darlings.

Slit the throats of your beautiful, drippy prose.

Slash pages and pages of useless stuff.

And you murder your story. In a totally good way, of course.

But while ninjas often work alone, they train in a dojo, with other ninjas who are all working toward the same goal--ultimate skill and perfection.

I love National Novel Writing Month. I love knowing I'm slaving away next to other worthy writers. Their presence and commitment keeps me going, pulls me through my dark times and pushes me toward the finish line--that magical place called THE END.

But NaNo only comes along once a year, which is really, really sad.

Enter: Ninja Novel Writing Month.

When you're ready to throw some words down, don't do it alone! Grab a badge (from the dojo page), and add your blog to the Mr. Linky on the dojo page. That way, everyone can know who's training at the dojo and writing a novel. (note: NiNo ReMo is coming soon! That's Ninja Novel REVISING month!)
For instance, say you wanted to write a novel in February. You'd post a button on your page and invite others to join you. You'd let me know and I'd add your Mr. Linky code to the dojo page on my site here under the title FEBRUARY NINJAS. That way, anyone can join you, train with you, or cheer you on.

This dojo is always open. There are always ninjas here to write with you--you don't ever have to train alone!
Welcome to the dojo, fellow ninjas!


This week, I will be devoting my blogs to a wonderful webinar I attended by Cheryl Klein of Arthur A. Levine books.  You might recognize the name.  She's the senior editor at AALB (an imprint of Scholastic Books) and was a continuing editor for the last three Harry Potter Books, among many others. She's been featured in Time Magazine and Entertainment Weekly for her work on the Harry Potter series. She specializes in Children's and Young Adult Literature.

Today, let's talk about points.  Ms. Klein says every decision you make as a writer should ultimately be in service of the novel's points. There are three points: The Emotional Point, The Thematic Point, and The Experiential Point.

The Emotional Point: What is the key emotional transformation of your protagonist?

The Thematic Point: What is your protagonist learning?  What question is your protagonist/novel asking?

The Experiential Point: What emotional journey do you want your READER to take?

As you start to revise or begin a new draft, ask yourself these three questions first.  Make them very clear in your mind. 

REVISION QUESTIONS: What is your emotional point? What is your thematic point? What is your experiential point?

To help her authors with these points, Ms. Klein asks them to write an intention letter answering these questions:

1. What do you want to do with the book? or What do you want the book to do?
2. What is the story, briefly?
3. What is the book about?
4. What do you love in the book?
5. What do you suspect (or know) needs work?

You can find more information regarding these points in Ms. Klein's book: Second Sight: An Editor’s Talks on Writing, Revising, and Publishing Books for Children and Young Adults. or by visiting her blog at http://chavelaque.blogspot.com/ or website at http://cherylklein.com/


Monday, July 18, 2011


I had no luck in the month of June and July! First my cell phone crashes, and I had to break down and get an iPhone 4. Love it so far, but time will tell.  Then, my hard drive died in my laptop. I had to replace it then reload everything. The good thing about all of this is that my hubby is a computer genius and told me never to save anything on my laptop hard drive.  So, even though I had a hell of a time with this reload, I didn't lose ANYTHING! *Que the chorus of singing angels!*

So, now that I'm up and running, I'm back to blogging and writing.  I did manage to take a wonderful webinar with Cheryl Klein of Arthur Levine Books.  I will have full details to come.  So, thanks for being patient with me and my world of crashing technology. 

It's good to be back!