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Writer's Digest presents an excerpt from my webinar, "Three Secrets of the Greats: Structure Your Story for Ultimate Reader Addiction."

Joanna Penn of The Creative Penn, one of the Top 10 Blogs for Writers, interviews me about storytelling, writing, independent editing, and the difference between literary fiction and genre, with an impromptu exercise on her own Work-in-Progress.

Editing client Stu Wakefield, author of the Kindle #1 Best Seller Body of Water, talks about our work together on Memory of Water, the second novel of his Water trilogy.






  • By Victoria Mixon

    This is a special midweek post, not part of my regular blog series, to make a long overdue announcement—I’ve been working all summer on the sequel to The Art & Craft of Fiction: A Practitioner’s Manual.

    I call it The Art & Craft of Story: 2nd Practitioner’s Manual, and I expect to release it September 30th.

    That’s in time for all you NaNoWriMo writers to read it and use it for a whole month before you fling yourselves out of your airplanes into thin air. I’m thinking of it as a parachute.

    And for every single one of you who’s ever gotten yourself passionately worked up over the depth and brilliance of your fictional world, dashed to your keyboard to plunge headlong into the splendor of this work, written and suffered and gloried hour after hour, day after day, in your incandescent vision, and come up gasping some weeks or months or even years later to stone-cold writer’s block with the heart-stopping realization you have no idea what you’re doing. . .this one’s for you.

    In The Art & Craft of Fiction: A Practitioner’s Manual I tackled this work we do globally—on all three levels, Developmental, Line, and Copy, with a whole section on how to survive as a writer.

    In The Art & Craft of Story: 2nd Practitioner’s Manual I’m focusing only on Developmental Issues: plot structure and character development, with a large section on storytelling—what it is, how to do it, what readers get out of it and why—plus in-depth advice on revision on a Developmental level, that eternal Pandora’s Box of writing.

    Here’s the Table of Contents:

    INTRODUCTION
    The State of the Industry: Fiction

    PART 1: STORYTELLING

    Chapter 1: Loving in the Time of Cholera with Gabriel Garcia Marquez

    Chapter 2: Searching for Entertainment-Industry Intelligence

    Chapter 3: How Stories are Written

    Accepting the Gullibility of Being a Storyteller
    Reviewing the Definition of a Story
    Reviewing the Defintion of Fiction
    Reviewing the Purpose of Storytelling
    Character Arc/Narrative Arc

    Chapter 4: Relationship & Quest—the Only Two Stories

    Mining Yourself
    Distinguishing Between Together & Alone
    Molding & Being Molded by Relationship
    Aiming Past Ecstasy through Quest

    Chapter 5: Reading with Attention

    Reading for Plot Design
    Reading for Character Development

    Chapter 6: Creating Reader Addiction

    Creating the Basic Tension in Character
    Creating the Basic Tension in Plot

    Chapter 7: Creating Reader Fulfillment

    Touching Your Reader’s Core with Resonance
    Playing Fair with Resonance

    Chapter 8: Graphing in Three Dimensions with (x,y,z)—Theme

    Chapter 9: Drawing a Visual Analogy

    Drawing an Icon
    Applying the Analogy to Storytelling

    PART 2: CHARACTER IS CONTENT

    Chapter 10: Being Mesmerized with Louisa May Alcott

    Chapter 11: Hunting the Ghost Tiger

    Taking the Tiger by the Tail
    Focusing on the Tiger

    Chapter 12: Developing Character

    Differentiating Between Yourself & Your Reader
    Getting What Your Reader Gets Out of Character
    Sucking Your Reader in with Sympathetic Character

    Chapter 13: Condensing & Contrasting Characters

    Condensing Multiple Characters into One
    Condensing Characters for Internal Conflict
    Condensing Characters for Contrast

    Chapter 14: Using Character

    Using Character to Discover Plot
    Using Character to Fuel Momentum
    Using Character to Addict Your Reader

    Chapter 15: Layering Character—Complexity

    Layering with Behavior
    Layering with Confusion
    Layering with the Two Classical Elements

    PART 3: PLOT IS CONTEXT

    Chapter 16: Designing an Impossible Plot with Maria Dermout

    Chapter 17: Beating Your Drum—Introduction to Holographic Structure

    Chapter 18: Designing a Crescendo—Explication of Holographic Structure

    Fatal Ignition
    Backstory
    Three Acts
    Two Plot Points
    One Fulcrum
    Feinting
    The Whole Point

    Chapter 19: Layering Plot—Complexity in Holographic Structure

    Main Plot
    Subplots
    Plot threads

    Chapter 20: Hook—Holographic Structure, Act I

    Act I Hook, hook & development
    Act I Hook, faux resolution & climax: Fatal Ignition
    Act I, Backstory
    Act I Conflict #1, hook & development
    Act I Conflict #1, faux resolution & climax: First Plot Point

    Chapter 21: Development—Holographic Structure, Act II

    Act II Conflict #2, hook & development
    Act II Conflict #2, faux resolution & climax: Fulcrum
    Act II Conflict #3, hook & development
    Act II Conflict #3, faux resolution & climax: Second Plot Point

    Chapter 22: Climax—Holographic Structure, Act III

    Act III Faux Resolution, hook & development
    Act III Faux Resolution, anti-faux resolution & climax: Feinting
    Act III Climax, hook & development
    Act III Climax, faux resolution & climax: the Whole Point

    Chapter 23: More Climax

    Pinpointing Your Climax
    Structuring Your Climax
    Making a Scene Out of Your Climax
    Building Total, Complex, Overwhelming Significance into Your Climax

    Chapter 24: Epiphany—Beyond Holography

    PART 4: REVISION

    Chapter 25: Writing and Rewriting with Franz Kafka

    Chapter 26: Vision & Revision: the Story You Need to Tell

    Rethinking Motivation—Character Arc
    Reorganizing Events—Narrative Arc
    Re-ignoring Theme

    Chapter 27: Reshuffling Your Deck—Planning the Revision

    Brainstorming
    Overall Organization
    Scene-by-Scene Arc
    Intuition
    Fun
    Staying in Motion
    Resting When Necessary
    Rewriting Out of Chronology
    Taking Notes
    A Word of Warning about Resolution

    Chapter 28: Spiraling Up the Helix—Multiple Drafts

    First Draft
    Second Draft
    Third Draft
    Nth Draft
    Final Draft

    Chapter 29: Going Beyond the Beyond

    CONCLUSION

    ‘Riding Out the Winter of Our Discontent

    I’ve opened up a discussion on the Amazon page for The Art & Craft of Fiction: A Practitioner’s Manual asking for input on exactly what you’d like to see in this sequel, The Art & Craft of Story: 2nd Practitioner’s Manual. Please—if you have a wish list, put it out there! Now’s the time. I’m sending preliminary ARCs to a few select reviewers in the next couple of weeks, but I can still squeeze in another chapter or two.

    I know I should have been asking you folks for your input throughout the summer. I know. But I’ve been all over the map traveling with my husband for work, and my client load has been huge, keeping me up to my eyeballs in the luxurious world of working one-on-one with you crazy people (you know who you are), so I’ve been slacking.

    I apologize.

    Stop being so damn fun to work with, people! You know who you are.

    And if you’re too excited to wait, everyone on The Art & Craft of Fiction Lab is reading The Art & Craft of Story: 2nd Practitioner’s Manual chapter-by-chapter right now. We’re talking about each chapter. Readers are offering opinions. We’re hashing things out.

    You know you’re always welcome to join us!

    NEXT YEAR: The Art & Craft of Prose: 3rd Practitioner’s Manual

    Subscribe:

    7 Comments

    “The freshest and most relevant
    advice you’ll find.”

    —Helen Gallagher, Seattle Post-Intelligencer

    The Art & Craft of Writing Fiction

    The Art & Craft of Writing Stories


    A. VICTORIA MIXON, FREELANCE INDEPENDENT EDITOR

    VICTORIA’S ADVICE COLUMN

    7 Comments

7 Responses to “The Art & Craft of Story: 2nd Practitioner’s Manual

  1. So excited about this book! I guess I would need to read the first book before the second…another one to add to my fab TBR list. 🙂

  2. Victoria said on

    🙂

    Thanks! I’m excited too. And exhausted.

    You don’t have to read the first one first. They’re complimentary, not consecutive.

  3. Angela Craven said on

    I am half-way finished with reading your first book. It is a wonderful book and I’m getting a LOT out of it. Thank you for writing a second, I’ll definitely buy it.

  4. Victoria said on

    Angela, thank you so much. If you wanted to post a review on Amazon, I would be most appreciative!

  5. RG Pyper said on

    Ah, how thrilling! This is exactly what we need. You have no idea (oh, you actually do, don’t you…) just how desperately this book is needed. You are a gift to the industry. Truly.

    Ever expectantly, RG

  6. Victoria said on

    Thank you, RG. When I calculate what I earn for the hours I put in on these books, it turns out my cats make more than I do, but it’s people like you who make it totally worth it.

  7. Genevieve said on

    Wow, do I want to buy this. I’m also midway through your first book. It has the odd quality of being equally jarring and reassuring by turns. I am really, really looking forward to this next offering.




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Authors


MILLLICENT G. DILLON, represented by Harold Ober Associates, is the world's expert on authors Jane and Paul Bowles. She has won five O. Henry Awards and been nominated for the PEN/Faulkner. I worked with Dillon on her memoir, The Absolute Elsewhere, in which she describes in luminous prose her private meeting with Albert Einstein to discuss the ethics of the atomic bomb. Read more. . .


SASHA TROYAN is a Professor of English at Montclair University and author of the critically-acclaimed novels Angels in the Morning and The Forgotten Island, both Booksense Selections, tragic and beautiful stories based upon her childhood in France. I worked with Troyan to develop her new novels, Marriage A Trois and Semester. Read more. . .


LUCIA ORTH is the author of the debut novel, Baby Jesus Pawn Shop, which received critical acclaim from Publisher’s Weekly, NPR, Booklist, Library Journal and Small Press Reviews. I have edited a number of essays and articles for Orth. Read more. . .


BHAICHAND PATEL, retired after an illustrious career with the United Nations, is now a journalist based out of New Dehli and Bombay, an expert on Bollywood, and author of three non-fiction books published by Penguin. I edited Patel’s best-selling debut novel, Mothers, Lovers, and Other Strangers, published by Pan Macmillan. Read more. . .


SCOTT WILBANKS, represented by Barbara Poelle of the Irene Goodman Literary Agency, is the author of the debut novel, The Lemoncholy Life of Annie Aster, published by Sourcebooks in August, 2015. I'm working with Wilbanks on his sophomore novel, Easy Pickens, the story of the world’s only medically-diagnosed case of chronic naiveté. Read more. . .


SCOTT WARRENDER is a professional musician and Annie Award-nominated lyricist specializing in musical theater. I work with Warrender regularly on his short stories and debut novel, Putaway. Read more. . .


M. TERRY GREEN enjoys a successful self-publishing career with her three sci-fi/fantasy series based on her dual careers in anthropology and technology. I worked with Green to develop a new speculative fiction series. Read more. . .


DARREN D. BEYER is an ex-NASA experiment engineer who worked on every Space Shuttle orbiter but Challenger. In Casimir Bridge, the first novel of his debut sci-fi series, Beyer uses every bit of his scientific expertise to create a galaxy in which "space bridges" allow interstellar travel based upon the latest in real theoretical physics. Read more. . .


ANIA VESENNY, represented by Beverly Slopen Literary Agency, is a recipient of the Evelyn Sullivan Gilbertson Award for Emerging Artist in Literature and has been nominated for the Pushcart Prize. I edited Vesenny's debut novel, Swearing in Russian at the Northern Lights, and her second novel, Sandara. Read more. . .


STUART WAKEFIELD is the #1 Kindle Best Selling author of Body of Water, the first novel in his Orcadian Trilogy. Body of Water was 1 of 10 books long-listed for the Polari First Book Prize. I edited Wakefield's second novel, Memory of Water, and look forward to editing the final novel of his Orcadian Trilogy, Spirit of Water. Read more. . .


GERALDINE EVANS is a best-selling British author. Her historical novel, Reluctant Queen, is a Category No 1 Best Seller on Amazon UK. I edited Death Dues, #11 in Evans' fifteen popular Rafferty and Llewellyn cozy police procedurals, which received a glowing review from the Midwest Book Review. Read more. . .


JUDY LEE DUNN is an award-winning marketing blogger. I am working with Dunn to develop and line edit her memoir of reconciling liberal activism with her emotional difficulty accepting the lesbianism of her beloved daughter, Tonight Show comedienne Kellye Rowland. Read more. . .


LISA MERCADO-FERNANDEZ writes literary novels of love, loss, and friendship set in the small coastal towns of New England. I edited Mercado-Fernandez' debut novel The Shoebox and second novel The Eighth Summer. Read more. . .


JEFF RUSSELL is the author of the debut novel, The Rules of Love and Law, based upon Jeff's abiding passions for legal history and justice. Read more. . .


LEN JOY is the author of the debut novel, American Past Time. I worked with Len to develop his novel from its core: a short story about the self-destructive ambitions of a Minor League baseball star, which agents had told him to throw away. Read more. . .


In addition, I work with scores of aspiring writers in their apprenticeship to this wonderful literary art and craft.

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