Creating Your Perfect Story Arc, Personal Anecdote, Writing 101

Phone a Friend!

Hey comrades!

I know it’s been awhile (when have you heard me say that before?) but it’s time once again to talk writing. Today, I want to help you feel more comfortable about sharing your new (or old!) piece with a fellow writer that you trust. We’re calling this episode: Phone a Friend.

I was coming back from my bachelorette party this past weekend in NOLA (YES! It was that awesome.) and my riding companion allowed me to interrupt her social media binge to discuss where I was in my book with like 100 characters, 30 plot lines, and worldbuilding a semi-complicated societal structure. (She’s one of my bridesmaids and best friends. She has been a phenomenal beta reader for me, and she also happens to be an effective, amazing life coach – check out Anna Marie when you get a chance and listen to her podcast. Trust me…she’s worth it!) I then commence to tell her that I’ve been thinking about changing my original format and, instead, focusing each book on one character and that character’s individual subplot while all the books share a progressive, overarching main plot. (Much like my beloved J.R. Ward does in her (insert smack smack noises here) delicious Black Dagger Brotherhood series.

Without missing a beat, she looks at me with a side eye and says, “Wait. I thought that was what you were always doing?” She then breaks down some great advice and offers some suggestions to make it more engaging and enjoyable to my readers. It was invaluable to me. That’s why she’s always one of my go-to’s for advice or for beta reading. However, Anna Marie is NOT my only go-to (which I am sure she is thankful for by the way…). Each writer or creator (of anything) needs a tight unit of trusted, supportive voices to go to for bouncing off ideas, getting a ‘reality’ check, or finding a cheerleader. This group is otherwise known as – the mastermind circle.

Every writer needs a mastermind circle just like every NASCAR driver needs a pit crew.

In NASCAR, the pit crew refuels the car, changes the tires, does any necessary repairs, and makes mechanical adjustments… in seconds. We need the same thing! You need a small group of writers, editors, agents, readers, or some combination of the above that you can trust (people you’ve met networking, friends like mine, fans, or maybe even family members) who are SUPPORTIVE of your work. You must choose those whose number one intention is to be of service to your work, to your visions, and to your goals. They will help you by going the extra mile with critiques on ideas and storylines. They can tell you where there’s a plot hole or too much plot. Occasionally, they can be the ones to tell you when it’s just time to take a break or let go.

Writing is a solitary business by trade, but it is a team sport in practice. The writer is connected to the agent/publisher (if you’ve gone the traditional route), the editors or beta readers, and the final readers. We tell the stories of whole other worlds and our small, individual ones. So, it helps to invite others in and use that help to polish our completed product. I encourage you to seek other writers, some friends, or a writing coach (shameless plug!) to help you through. Don’t be afraid to phone a friend. They may have the answers you’ve been looking for all along.

Tell us in the comments if this resonates with your experiences as a writer or who you go to in your time of need!

As always, I can’t wait to read what you’re writing!

Personal Anecdote

The Art of Progress…

Have you ever considered progress to be an art form?

I do.

One that some of us excel in while others are struggling to find vision.

To explain, let us examine some common, accepted definitions:

“Progress” is the idea or concept that advances or forward movement in any industry, organization, structure, or organism can produce or induce improvement.

“Art” can be described as almost any activity that expresses human imagination, ideas, or technical skills, especially as it relates to the appreciation of beauty or emotional power.

I argue that human progress is indeed a form of art.

“Art,” by this definition (that I conveniently reworded from Google), requires an action. A novel that remains unwritten, a portrait unpainted, or sex abstained are not forms of art. They are ideas, concepts, and possibilities. Art has something to show for itself.

Progress also requires action. Empty blueprints, machines unbuilt, and goals diverted are not considered to be forms of progression. Without the action completed or finished product, there can be no catalyst. Without a catalyst, there is no advancement. Advancement is the birth child of progress.

Here is where I find the crossroads of art and progress:

Progress meets art where human advancement and forward movement express the beauty and emotional power of the human condition and its desire to thrive.

We are born to succeed.
We have the power to choose not to.

I encourage you to choose the destiny you were born to unleash.

This does not disavow us from failure. Failure is a necessary step in success. Without failure, how could we find the areas of our lives that most need to grow or ever experience a desire to change and develop ourselves? The stumbling blocks on the road to progress are as vital as the plotholes in a novel. Without the problems, solutions wouldn’t be created that make life and art better.

I recently experienced a failure in an assignment for school. It was disheartening, but it is pushing me to push harder to realize my goal.
For those of you who don’t know, I have decided to finish my Bachelor’s degree. This time for Creative Writing.

Like any work of art, progress takes time. Sometimes, it happens in cycles of ups and downs. Just like a novel…it takes editing and revision.

I know what some of you who know my background may be asking…

Why, if I am already an educator, business owner, and professional writer, would I pursue this? I have already proven to myself through an entrepreneurial spirit and a stubborn attitude that I could be successful without completing an advanced, formal education.

There are several reasons that I am pursuing this (and, later, another) degree. The simplest answer is… I want to.

I have always wanted to do this. Ever since I was a little girl, I wanted to be Dr. MéShelle, thank you very much with operating on people (and Mrs. Batman- but really who didn’t?). It sounded right to me even before I fully understood what it meant.

And even though I did attend college on a full scholarship, this goal was upended by circumstance, poor decision making, and fear. What if I realized my goal but was still unable to fulfill my purpose or build my dreams? I decided (without realizing) that if there was a chance I could finish school and still fail at achieving what I wanted to achieve in this life… I would rather just fail. So, there was a lost period in my life where there was no progress. My work of art left unfinished.

Thankfully, it was short-lived.

I have a wonderful support system (if you don’t have one – get one!) who believed in me when I wasn’t sure how to do that for myself. Through some additional trial and error (this time purposeful), I wound up pursuing opportunities that would teach me about entrepreneurship and creating a destiny for myself. I proved (to me, at least) that I could create any existence for myself that I desired without the aid of a degree, just through my own tenacity.

But that didn’t mean that my love of learning or childhood desire had left.
So, here I am… a work in progress. Much like a novel still being written.
Just like me, you are the other of your own story. You have the power to affect what goes in the pages.

So, I encourage you today to keep moving forward. Please, progress.

You are a work of art.