Inspired by ABDCE

Nobody ever said writing was easy, and if they did, they didn’t know what they were talking about. Our group met today to write and to wail about the difficulties we’re encountering along the way: the elusive plot element, that character who just won’t behave, and the six months of hard graft of revisions only to find the first draft might have been better.

I always benefit from these sessions–writing can be a lonely occupation–and more often than not I come away with some idea for fixing what’s been troubling me about a scene, or a chapter, and even my novel as a whole.

Screen Shot 2016-02-22 at 1.05.24 PM

(Source: Coursera, Creative Writing: The Craft of Plot)

Today, we also talked about online writing courses. You may be aware that there are many, often free, courses offered by globally-renowned universities. The particular courses we talked about were Creative Writing: The Craft of Plot, from Wesleyan University, and How Writers Write Fiction, from the University of Iowa.

For me, plot is a challenge. I love setting and character, but the plot, well that’s the reason for taking the Wesleyan course. It was a joyous revelation that much of what is going  wrong in my stories can be addressed by a simple ABDCE.

Note the order of those letters.

A means action, B means background, D is development, C is climax, and E is ending. One of Wesleyan’s course assignments was to write 400 words with the ABDCE sequence, according to this prompt:

“Begin a scene where someone wants a concrete physical object more than anything else in the world. Now include each of the five key components of a scene as you’re writing. Write for a few minutes, then give that character a disease where they learn they have only 24 hours to live. This is your first significant rising action. Write some more, then give that character a choice between that object and an antidote. This is your second significant rising action. Finish the story with a conclusion. Your final story should not exceed 400 words.”

Try it, it’s fun!

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