Do You Want To Change Your Audience?

Do you want your story to bring your audience to a point of change or to reinforce its current view? Oddly enough, choosing a steadfast Main Character may bring an audience to change and choosing a change character may influence the audience to remain steadfast. Why? It depends upon whether or not your audience shares the Main Character’s point of view to begin with.

Suppose your audience and your Main Character do NOT agree in attitudes about the central issue of the story. Even so, the audience will still identify with the Main Character because he represents the audience’s position in the story. So, if the Main Character grows in resolve to remain steadfast and succeeds, then the message to your audience is, “Change and adopt the Main Character’s view if you wish to succeed in similar situations.”

Clearly, since either change or steadfast can lead to either success or failure in a story, when you factor in where the audience stands a great number of different kinds of audience impact can be created by your choice.

In answering this question, therefore, consider not only what you want your Main Character to do as an individual, but also how that influences your story’s message and where your audience stands in regard to that issue to begin with.

Excerpted from our Dramatica software

Try it risk-free for 90 days at Storymind.com

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Avoid Writer’s Block with “Nonsense”

StoryWeaving – Write Your Novel or Screenplay Step By Step

Step 2: Nonsense!

If you already know what your story is about want to get right to the details, you might want to jump ahead to the “Finding the Holes” step farther down in this path.

But If you could use some additional ideas or are stuck trying to develop the ideas you already have, the next few questions will help you find new material.

If you are really stuck, its probably because you are trying too hard to be creative – a situation often referred to as “Writer’s Block.”

Fortunately, there is a trick you can use to break through Writer’s Block and get your creativity flowing again!

The following technique will help you loosen up and come up with some really off the wall ideas that you may want to incorporate in your story. At the very least, it should give your Muse a kick in the pants. So, even if the ideas themselves aren’t useful, you’ll be inspired to begin again where you were stuck before.

The Nonsense Technique for Overcoming Writers Block

First, write three nonsense words in the space below. Don’t stop to think it over, just jot down the first words that come to mind, as in a word-association test.

Example:

Cat, Running, Green

NOTE: You might want to include a mix of nouns, verbs, adverbs, and adjectives

Write your nonsense words below, then proceed to the next step to turn your nonsense words into an inspiration….

Excerpted from our StoryWeaver software. Try it risk-free at Storymind.com

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Who’s Behind This Blog?

Who’s behind this blog?

Hi, I’m Melanie Anne Phillips – Owner of Storymind.com, creator of StoryWeaver, and Co-creator of Dramatica. I have two grown children, two grandchildren, and recently turned 65.

For 25 years I’ve taught creative writing and story structure, but there’s a lot more to me than that. I’m an avid photographer in the style of Ansel Adams, I hike in the back country of Yosemite, I write philosophy and personal journals (see my author page on Amazon) and I compose music – lots of music in lots of styles. Perhaps the best way to know the person behind this page is to hear a bit of my music, which is the voice of the soul.

ONE OF MY PIANO IMPROV SESSIONS

I find the best way to warm up my compositional skills is a little free-form invention on the fly for a short session. Often a new riff or an interesting chord progression emerges that eventually becomes a whole new song. The key is to walk out fearlessly among the notes, follow the Muse of whimsy and less loose the dogs of serendipity.

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Choosing Your Main Character’s Resolve

The Main Character represents the audience’s position in the story. Therefore, whether he or she changes or not has a huge impact on the audience’s story experience and the message you are sending to it.

Some Main Characters grow to the point of changing their nature or attitude regarding a central personal issue like Scrooge in A Christmas Carol. Others grow in their resolve, holding onto their nature or attitude against all obstacles like Dr. Richard Kimble in The Fugitive.

Change can be good if the character is on the wrong track to begin with. It can also be bad if the character was on the right track. Similarly, remaining Steadfast is good if the character is on the right track, but bad if he is misguided or mistaken.

Think about the message you want to send to your audience, and whether the Main Character’s path should represent the proper or improper way of dealing with the story’s central issue. Then select a changing or steadfast Main Character accordingly.

Excerpted from our Dramatica Story Structure Software

Try it risk-free for 90 days at Storymind.com

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Finding Your Story’s Core

By Melanie Anne Phillips

Every story has a core – that concept at the center that pulls all of the story elements into a cohesive whole, establishes meaning and message, and provides the story with an overall identity.

There are four fundamental kinds of cores, though each has endless variations.

1. Universe stories that are all about a fixed situation people must grapple with, such as being stuck in an overturned ocean liner, locked in a high-rise building with terrorists, being handcuffed to a murder, being the only member of a group with a particular gender or race, having a physical deformity.

2. Mind Stories that are all about fixed mind sets such as exploring or overcoming prejudice, belief in something that defies all evidence to the contrary, an unreasonable fear, a determination to accomplish something even if the reason for doing it has vanished.

3. Physics stories that are all about activities such as a trek through the jungle to obtain a lost treasure, the attempt to build the first self-aware artificial intelligence, a race across a continent in the 1800s, the effort to find a cure for a virulent new disease.

4. Psychology stores that are all the the thinking process, such as trying to come to terms with personal loss, grappling with issues of faith, overcoming addiction, growing to become a true leader.

Which of these four kinds of cores best describes what you want your story to be about and how you want it to feel?

By picking a core, you will have a central defining vision for your story that will keep it on track during development, and your completed story will come across with a powerful unified impact on your readers or audience.

The “Core” concept is part of the Dramatica Theory of Narrative Structure

Read the Dramatica Theory Book for Free in PDF

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A World About Inspiration for Writers

Inspiration can come from many sources: a conversation overheard at a coffee shop, a newspaper article, or a personal experience to name a few.

And, inspiration can also take many forms: a snippet of dialogue, a bit of action, a clever concept, and so on.

One thing most inspirations have in common is that they are not stories, just the beginnings of stories. To develop a complete story, you’ll need a cast of characters, a detailed plot, a thematic argument, and the trappings of genre.

But how do you come up with the extra pieces you need?

In the questions that follow StoryWeaver will help inspire you, even if you can’t come up with an idea to save your life!

Learn more about StoryWeaver at Storymind.com

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Writing Con Men, Shady Businessmen, and Seedy Politicians

Characters, as with real people such as con men, shady businessmen, and seedy politicians, will often use statistics to paint a false, yet plausible, picture.

For example, one such character might state that 12% of all high-school dropouts were beaten by their parents. What he doesn’t say is that 12% of high school graduates were also beaten by their parents.

By not providing statistics for the whole group, there is no comparative, and a causal relationship between beatings and dropping out is inferred.

To build your characters, read the news, see these techniques used in life and then apply that in fiction to believably drive your story forward .

Melanie Anne Phillips – Storymind.com

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Message and Context

The message of a story comes from context. It is context that eventually convinces Scrooge that his way of looking at the world is incorrect. Yet, before he was shown the bigger picture, his personal experience presented quite a different picture.

The Influence Character in a story (the ghosts, in the case of A Christmas Carol) presents that alternative context, shifting their argument, act by act, as the Main Character tries to maintain his conclusions by side-stepping.

Eventually, the Influence Character will chase the Main Character’s reasoning around the block until there is nowhere left to side-step and he or she must face that bigger picture.

At that point – the point of climax in the personal journey of growth for the Main Character – he or she will either accept or reject this new context (either change or remain steadfast in their views) in a leap of faith, and the ramifications of that choice will determine if the story ends in success or failure.

To help with creating these context and developing the progressive conflict between the Influence Character and the Main Character, we developed Dramatica: the world’s only writing software with a patented interactive Story Engine that cross-references your answers to questions about your story to create a template for perfect story structure.

You can try it risk-free for 90 days at our web site at Storymind.com

Melanie Anne Phillips

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About Your Story’s Title

A writing tip from Dramatica Story Structure Software

What’s in a name?  Having at least a working title will help you start your story, even if you ultimately change the title.

The title of your story may or may not have dramatic significance.  In some cases, the meaning of the title may become apparent only during the course or even at the end of a story.  There have even been stories in which the final understanding of the message is only achieved when the title becomes the last piece in the puzzle.

Consider the value of these example titles such as The Verdict (which refers to the story’s climax), Alien (which refers to the subject matter), and The Silence of the Lambs (which refers to the Main Character’s personal problems).

Whether or not a title plays into the story itself, it will always frame the first impression it has on your readers or audience.  To illustrate this, imagine all the other titles the original Star Wars movie might have had.  In actuality, Star Wars was originally titled The Adventures of the Starkiller, then Episode One of the Star WarsAdventures of Luke Starkiller, and even The Journal Of The Whills.  Now, of course, it has been renamed Star Wars Episode IV: A New Hope.  Clearly, you can immediately feel the impact a change in title has on the reader/audience first impression of your story.

Also from Storymind…

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The Four Stages of Story Development

A writing tip from StoryWeaver Story Development Software

Authors differ in many ways in how they approach the creation of a story, yet there are four stages in the process through which each author must travel:

1.  Inspiration

2.  Development

3.  Exposition

4.  Storytelling

In the Inspiration section, you come up with your basic ideas for your Plot, Characters, Theme, and Genre.

In Development, you flesh-out these ideas, adding details and making all the bits and pieces work together in harmony.

In Exposition you determine how to reveal your narrative to your readers or audience over time, story point by story point.

In Storytelling you establish your style, pacing, and voice.

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