Tools That Work
For me, structuring my storyline is the hardest task! If someone would just hand me the plot formation, I could whip out the book in no time. Unfortunately, that only happens in a fantasy world, and since I write women’s contemporary fiction… So, I’ve had to seek out methods to make life easier. Randy Ingermanson has developed the well-known Snowflake Method and shares it on his website. He has also created a software program to make life easier. You’ll find both on his site, as well as his free e-zine magazine. Check it out.
I’m going to tout the brilliance of Randy Ingermanson again. I found his book Writing Fiction for Dummies a quick read packed with helpful information on writing your fiction novel from start to finish.
The best source I’ve found for plot and structure is Larry Brooks’ book Story Engineering. I spent three hours on the ferry to Victoria Island in British Columbia pouring over this book after being eviscerated via email by a well-respected agent for lack of structure in my novel. Being the analytical type, Brooks’ instructions were clear and understandable with wonderful samples from popular books and movies.
To get to the heart of your characters, I’ve discovered a wonderful tool called the essential enneagram by Daniels and Price. You can see how different personality types react in real-life situations and where they tend to default when emotionally unhealthy. I’m a psychology major, however, and love to really delve into the psyche of my characters–otherwise they end up being too much like me. Please Understand Me by David Keirsey and Marilyn Bates is an excellent source for using the Myers-Briggs personality assessment to create your characters. And if you find this fascinating but would like to go further, Please Understand Me II: Temperament, Character, Intelligence by David Keirsey is your next step.