Plotcasters2018-09-08T20:30:47+00:00

Plotcasters

Plotcasters Podcast: Craft Notes & Story Structure

I’m excited (and terrified) to announce a new podcast – Plotcasters – in which I to share craft notes, lessons on plot structure, and eventually, interviews with fellow writers. Three episodes are posted (3-Act Structure, Sticky Note Plotting Part, & Stick Note Plotting Part B). Feedback so far is been great (and terrifying), and I hope the podcast will be useful (and terrifying) to readers and writers alike.

If you want to check it out, you can find the episodes on iTunes and Listen on Google Play Music. You can also directly access the podcast by going to the website or its Facebook page. We begin the process of integrating needed to I am my website, which will later include gifs, links, clothes, and other shareable media. Feel free to tell all your friends (and even the people that you’re friendly with but actually find terrifying).


The Plotcasters podcast is hosted by Blubrry.

This post my contains affiliate links to products from advertisers who pay a commission for referrals. Please see the advertising policy for more details.

Plotcasters Episode 6: Q&A

Colored version of Sticky Note Plot

With great sticky notes comes great responsibility–to answer questions about stuff that you didn’t make clear the first time! We’ve been taking questions vis the website and Twitter about the details of the Sticky Note Plot, and David has answered them. He likes answering questions, so we may do another Q&A after the next couple of episodes.

Plotcasters is hosted by David Macinnis Gill, author of Uncanny, Soul Enchilada, and the Black Hole Sun series, all from HarperCollins. His website is www.davidmacinnisgill.com

Music:

  • One Minute Surf Boogie by texasradiofish (c) copyright 2016 Licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution Noncommercial  (3.0) license.
  • Blow-up Santa by texasradiofish (c) copyright 2013 Licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution Noncommercial  (3.0) license.
  • Foolish Game by texasradiofish (c) copyright 2014 Licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution Noncommercial  (3.0) license.

The Plotcasters podcast is hosted by Blubrry.

This post my contains affiliate links to products from advertisers who pay a commission for referrals. Please see the advertising policy for more details.

Sticky Note Plot Visuals

(cross-posted from www.plotcasters.com).

There was a request on the Plotcasters twitter feed about what the sticky note plot looks like when it’s on the wall and why the colored stickies are important. Great question! It’s difficult to visualize a physical process just from an auditory podcast, so our team has decided to do some short videos to support the podcasts. In the meantime, I’ve done two screen captures of plots that I’ve done in the past and will explain them below.

The image above is a sticky note wall in progress. It was built using the same color of sticky notes because that’s all I had on hand and I wanted to get the ideas down before they slipped away. The 3-act structure is above the notes, and there are not many ideas yet. Later, I re-wrote the sticky notes and used colored stickies to visually delineate the acts.

This is a screen capture from the recording of a workshop I did. It was the second half of the workshop, and I was explaining how to include a B story in the plot. The acts are separated by colors, and the B story is denoted by smaller stickies. You can see the difference that the colored stickies make. Just by glancing, you can see the 3-acts and the Turn. In a ‘live’ plotting process, you can also see at a glance how many of the scenes get moved from act to act. I like to keep track of the those changes visually. It reminds me to keep the story fluid instead of locking it into pre-conceived notions.

This is the sticky note plot for Toy Story, which I didn’t write of course. In the workshop, I broke down the story to point out the key scenes and to show how the B story drove the main story. It’s fairly neat for a sticky note plot, which can get pretty messy, especially when I start putting strings on the notes to connect story threads.

With questions coming, Episode 6 of Plotcasters will be a Q&A about the sticky note process, the three-act structure I use, key scenes, character development, and just about anything else you’d like to ask about writing. Feel free to leave questions in the comments below or send them via Twitter. We will collect them two days before the podcast goes live and answer as many as we can. Episodes 7 & 8 will be about the B-story.

What the Sticky Notes Look Like

There was a request on the Plotcasters twitter feed about what the sticky note plot looks like when it’s on the wall and why the colored stickies are important. Great question! It’s difficult to visualize a physical process just from an auditory podcast, so our team has decided to do some short videos to support the podcasts. In the meantime, I’ve done two screen captures of plots that I’ve done in the past and will explain them below.

The image above is a sticky note in progress. It was built using the same color of sticky notes because that’s all I had on hand and I wanted to get the ideas down before they slipped away. The 3-act structure is above the notes, and there are not many ideas yet. Later, I re-wrote the sticky notes and used colored stickies to visually delineate the acts.

This is a screen capture from the recording of a workshop I did. It was the second half of the workshop, and I was explaining how to include a B story in the plot. The acts are separated by colors, and the B story is denoted by smaller stickies. You can see the difference that the colored stickies make. Just by glancing, you can see the 3-acts and the Turn. In a ‘live’ plotting process, you can also see at a glance how many of the scenes get moved from act to act. I like to keep track of the those changes visually. It reminds me to keep the story fluid instead of locking it into pre-conceived notions.

This is the sticky note plot for Toy Story, which I didn’t write of course. In the workshop, I broke down the story to point out the key scenes and to show how the B story drove the main story. It’s fairly neat for a sticky note plot, which can get pretty messy, especially when I start putting strings on the notes to connect story threads.

With questions coming, Episode 6 of Plotcasters will be a Q&A about the sticky note process, the three-act structure I use, key scenes, character development, and just about anything else you’d like to ask about writing. Feel free to leave questions in the comments below or send them via Twitter. We will collect them two days before the podcast goes live and answer as many as we can. Episodes 7 & 8 will be about the B-story.

Plotcasters Episode 5

You’ve finished a Sticky Note Plot. What do you do with all these stickies now? In this episode, David explains how he uses Word, Scrivener’s import feature and screenplay template to create a novel beat sheet, then a first draft from the beat sheet.

Plotcasters is hosted by David Macinnis Gill, author of Uncanny, Soul Enchilada, and the Black Hole Sun series, all from HarperCollins. His website is www.davidmacinnisgill.com

Music:

  • One Minute Surf Boogie by texasradiofish (c) copyright 2016 Licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution Noncommercial  (3.0) license.
  • Blow-up Santa by texasradiofish (c) copyright 2013 Licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution Noncommercial  (3.0) license.
  • Foolish Game by texasradiofish (c) copyright 2014 Licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution Noncommercial  (3.0) license.

The Plotcasters podcast is hosted by Blubrry.

This post my contains affiliate links to products from advertisers who pay a commission for referrals. Please see the advertising policy for more details.

Preview Episode 5 of Plotcasters

Itching for the next Episode 5 of Plotcasters? Look for it Friday, Sept 22. Topics will include Stick Note Drafting, in which David explains how to use a completed Sticky Note Plot to create a scene sheet that can be turned into a living outline in Scrivener. A new feature for this episode, What’s David Reading? A look at the craft books and novels David has found useful and engaging since the last episode.

Speaking of this week, look for the first issue of the Plotcasters Newsletter on Thursday. Subscribers of the Plotcasters Newsletter will get an early link to the podcast, along with writing tips that aren’t shared on the website. Want to become a subscriber to the FREE newsletter? Sign up now!

What is Plotcasters?

Thanks for dropping by! Plotcasters is a new podcast by author David Macinnis Gill. David teaches writing at the Vermont College of Fine Arts, where he shares craft techniques for writing novels, short stories, non-fiction, and works specifically for children. He’s developed a story construction method called the Sticky Note Plot that he’s sharing in the first few episodes. Later, the podcast will become a mix of short craft lessons on storytelling and interviews with other authors about their techniques.

You can also look forward to videos, infographics, and short handouts to show you tips that can’t be covered in the podcasts. We will also have a newsletter, giveaways, and market tips for getting your work in front of agents and editors.

Sound like fun? Then stick around!

Plotcasters Episode 4: Key Scenes

Continuing the Sticky Note Plot series, David explains the purpose and use of Key Scenes and how they work in story generation and character development. List of Key Scenes in each Act:

  • Act 1: World As It Is; Inciting Event; Challenge Accepted
  • Act 2B: Journey Begins; The Hero’s Montage (several scenes); False Victory
  • The Turn
  • Act 2B: The Villain’s Montage (several scenes); False Defeat
  • Act 3: Night of Living Hell; Challenge Completed; World As It Will Be

Plotcasters is hosted by David Macinnis Gill, author of Uncanny, Soul Enchilada, and the Black Hole Sun series, all from HarperCollins. His website is www.davidmacinnisgill.com

Music:

  • One Minute Surf Boogie by texasradiofish (c) copyright 2016 Licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution Noncommercial  (3.0) license.
  • Blow-up Santa by texasradiofish (c) copyright 2013 Licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution Noncommercial  (3.0) license.
  • Foolish Game by texasradiofish (c) copyright 2014 Licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution Noncommercial  (3.0) license.

The Plotcasters podcast is hosted by Blubrry.

This post my contains affiliate links to products from advertisers who pay a commission for referrals. Please see the advertising policy for more details.

Plotcasters Episode 3 Sticky Note Plotting B

https://www.podbean.com/media/share/pb-e89ep-714258
Episode 3: Sticky Note Plotting Process (Part B)

The Sticky Note Plot is a craft process for creating a story structure with character, setting, and action. In this podcast, David Macinnis Gill teels you about the importance of:

  • Vivid settings
  • Having a strong antagonist
  • Identifying key scenes

Music:

  • One Minute Surf Boogie by texasradiofish (c) copyright 2016 Licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution Noncommercial  (3.0) license. 
  • Blow-up Santa by texasradiofish (c) copyright 2013 Licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution Noncommercial  (3.0) license.
  • Foolish Game by texasradiofish (c) copyright 2014 Licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution Noncommercial  (3.0) license.

The Plotcasters podcast is hosted by Blubrry.

This post my contains affiliate links to products from advertisers who pay a commission for referrals. Please see the advertising policy for more details.

Plotcasters Series 1 Episode 2: Sticky Note Plotting

https://www.podbean.com/media/share/pb-p7c4h-712256
Episode 2: Sticky Note Plotting Process (Part A)

The Sticky Note Plot is a craft process for creating a story structure with character, setting, and action. In this podcast, David Macinnis Gill describes:

  • Sticky Note Plot overview
  • Preparing for the process
  • Generating the sticky note plot

Music:

  • One Minute Surf Boogie by texasradiofish (c) copyright 2016 Licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution Noncommercial  (3.0) license. 
  • Blow-up Santa by texasradiofish (c) copyright 2013 Licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution Noncommercial  (3.0) license.
  • Foolish Game by texasradiofish (c) copyright 2014 Licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution Noncommercial  (3.0) license.

The Plotcasters podcast is hosted by Blubrry.

This post my contains affiliate links to products from advertisers who pay a commission for referrals. Please see the advertising policy for more details.

Plotcasters Episode 1 Story Structure–Three Acts and a Turn

Notes for Plotcasters Episode 1: Plot Structure–overview, acts, turn

These are just the main topics covered in the Episode 1 of Plotcasters podcast. Visit the Podcasts section and listen to the full story.

Most stories (those that follow the western aesthetic) have a similar structure: plots have a beginning, middle, and end three x beginning middle and end. That makes a lot of sense doesn’t it. Because you can’t have the middle without a beginning.

  • Act 1 is the set up.
  • Act 2 is the meat of the action, aka the muddle.
  • Act 3 is the ending

In the past, the acts were of equal lengths. Modern readers no longer have the patience for that. In response, writers have shortened Acts 1 and 3 and have expanded Act 2 so that it is half of the novel.Having a long Act 2 means the the muddle is much longer.

Act 1: The beginning of your story. It has specific story elements that need to be included, starting with the setting. Setting is the time, place, and culture of the story, often called “The World As it Is.” There’s a call to action. The hero is given a task. It’s the moment when the character goes into motion.

Act 2: We no longer view Act 2 as one big chunk. Instead, we divide it into three parts. The first part is 2A. The third part is Act 2B. We split 2A and 2B right down the most to create the most important part, the Turn.

Act 2A: Your hero has begun to call the action. They’re on whatever emotional/psychological/physical journey they started in Act 1. They do well. They got friends. They have fun and games they have high jinks and everything was going really well for them so that by the end of today. It looks like they’re going to succeed.

Act 2B: Once they have not succeeded. Once they have failed. Then act to lead is the antithesis of ACT 2A. That’s where everything goes wrong. That’s where this stuff hits the fan. So everything that they get right in the beginning they do wrong. Now the peak that they reached the highest level they crash down from. So that by the end of Act 2 by the end of that to me they are humbled. And almost destroyed. And the thing that destroys them is the Turn.

Act 3: LIke the other acts, Act 3 has specific elements. They vary based on genre expectations and length. Typically, the elements are a promise of self-evaluation by the hero, a final battle with the villain that completes the challenge the hero accepted in Act1, and a return to equilibrium so that the Worlds as it was becomes the World as it will be.

Remember: Plot is the series of actions a character does because of what those actions mean to her or him. The ending has to mean something, too.


The Plotcasters podcast is hosted by Blubrry.

This post my contains affiliate links to products from advertisers who pay a commission for referrals. Please see the advertising policy for more details.