Friday, May 2, 2008

The Beginning. The Middle. The End.

Last weekend I attended my ACFW WORD workshop featuring award winning, multi-published author Anna DeStefano. Anna is president of my local RWA chapter, Georgia Romance Writers. She's a busy woman. I don't know how she's found time to write 11 books in 4 years!

Well that's part of what Anna shared on Saturday.

I hooted, literally - hooted, when Anna said early in her pre-published career that she wrote from 10pm to 2am every night. This was while she was working a 50-60 hour work week and balancing the duties of wife and mother. (Her son was a baby, and she mentioned, wasn't sleeping through the night).

My loud hoot, contained, "You're Awesome!" But Anna quickly said she wasn't. I beg to differ.
I've got to get motivated and surely I could manage 10p-2a or even 4a-8a.

Yet I digress. You've read the title of the post, so I'm about to share with you a revelation I had Saturday.

A year ago, Anna spoke at one of our ACFW WORD meetings and touched on this topic. I remember it because she brought her manuscript to show how she revises and she brought her spreadsheets. A year ago, I thought I got it. But I had a lot of learning to do.

I've been revising the same manuscript. The original completed version looks nothing like my last revision. In fact, it's so different, I sometimes wonder if I'm telling the same story that I started out on this journey several years ago. I've tried to put the book down, start something new. Lord knows, I've got a few others pounding my creative door, ready to be researched and written. Yet this one story won't die.

And now I'm determined to revise it right. Revise it good. Revise it to be something I'm proud of so I can send it to the publisher that actually requested it last fall! I mean, I can't get rejected if I don't send it in, right? And I can't put myself on the line and risk the fact they may like it, if I don't send it in, are you with me?

I've read Goal, Motivation, and Conflict by Deb Dixon. I thought I got it. I did get it, but looking back, I only had a nugget of "it." I'm studying The Story Within Guidebook by Alicia Rasley, which touches on GMC and other important facts about the craft. And I think I'm getting what she's saying. Then I sit in on Anna's workshop Saturday and listen as we work through another writer's story on her Beginning, Middle, End spreadsheet for the Hero and Heroine and the whole group experiences an A-HA moment.

It has nothing to do with the 80s band A-Ha, but it's a true A-HA! moment when we finally realize why we're charting the character's Beginning goals and personalities, then watch how it changes toward the middle and finally we see where the character is at the ending with those goals and personalities and relationships which is hopefully where we envisioned the character at the beginning of this crazy journey!

I've been thinking on this concept all week, coupled it with my story, and actually started my own spreadsheet. I realized the conflict between my hero and heroine is really the black moment between them. That's the big scene I'm hoping will draw tears and seeds of regret for my readers, if the darn thing is every published.

I realized I have to have some kind of goal driving the hero and heroine in the beginning, that motivates them to take action to achieve that goal and makes everything fall apart when conflicts big and small get in the way. Then there's the big, black moment and the charge up the mountain to reach the peak of happily ever after.

Have you ever had an A-HA! moment in your writing, revising or reading?

Don't you love A-HA! moments in reading, especially suspense? Share your thoughts.

Nuggets of wisdom are welcome here!


  1. I had an aha moment in Anna's workshop, too, where she mentioned the conflict lock. I remember that term from Bob Mayer's workshop. The hero has to cause conflict for the heroine, and she has to cause conflict for him, so that there's a conflict lock.

    Love that term!


  2. Hi,
    I had a A-Ha moment this week using Anna's chart. It was awesome....Anna's a great speaker and motivational also. Her energy is to be admired. We all have different schedules and have to do what works for us. I just can't think at night. I've tried. Early am is best for me. So I started working from whatever time I get up in the am until a certain time when I get ready. I have two hours some mornings....less that 30 minutes others...