Guest Post by Donna Newton

I can’t tell you how excited I am to acquaint you with the person who has graciously accepted my invitation to guest post today. Some of you may already know her, but for most, she has patiently waited in the wings for this introduction. (Chomping at the bit is more like it! lol)

Donna comes to us from forty-five minutes north of London in a little picturesque village in Sussex, England where she lives with her husband and two children and counts her laptop as part of her loyal group of friends. (Big yawn. Donna, you’ve got to get out more.)

She has been published in numerous magazines and has had a varied, yet somewhat adventurous career and now co-writes T.V. pilots and is involved in the L.A. scene. She says she decided to write her first novel about three years ago and that’s when she first came into contact with Kristen Lamb who took her under her wing. (More like a guinea pig is how Donna puts it.)

Donna is a graduate of Warrior Writer’s Boot Camp and is here today to give us all some important advice that not only helped her, but will also help us to improve our writing skills.

Take it away Donna!

 

Learning To Write The WWBC Way

Hi everyone.

It all started when I met Kristen Lamb.

She stumbled upon the first chapter of my novel which I posted on a blogger site and proceeded to hunt me down. She pointed out where I was going wrong and had offered to help me. Naturally, I jumped at the chance.

We stripped back my story to its very core, and I wrote a background for my antagonist – something I had never done before.

Kristen’s reply after I nervously emailed it across to her was, “Crap, do it again.”

And again I did. Several times in fact. Until finally, everything clicked into place and I had created a psychopathic alter-ego.

I’m very good friends with Kristen now. She has the most amazing way of making you pay for her kindness (See gun in picture! lol). I’ve since written two teleplays and currently adapting one into a novel, plotted my second book, and lead WWBC Team Delta. I apply the Warrior Writer method to every story I plot and wouldn’t consider doing it any other way.

So, without further ado, here is the way to write – Warrior Writer style.

 

Your Story

First and foremost – you must have an idea of what your book is about. Knowing the genre is extremely helpful, and what your protagonist wants and who’s trying to stop he/she from getting it will also make things a lot easier for you.

Log Line

Once you know the basis of your story, you can write that log line. Now, don’t be scared.

They are easier to write if you follow this simple rule:

An ADJECTIVE NOUN (protagonist) must ACTIVE VERB the ANTAGONIST before SOME REALLY HORRIBLE THING HAPPENS (stopping the protagonist from reaching her goal).

You can read more about log lines here at my website.

Backgrounds

A background is a little like a biography. Imagine you were writing your own life story. You’d start from the moment you were born and take the reader up to the current day. Well, a background is the same thing. Write all about your character from the moment they were born, right up to the moment you are about to start your story.

This is a fantastic way to get to know your character, and give you time to flesh them out. Once done, you will have no trouble writing them, or writing dialogue for them.

Backgrounds – Who To Start With

Antagonist – Why? Because they are the biggest problem. Without them in our story, we have NO story.

Protagonist – Yep, you’ve guessed it. Now do the same for your protagonist. Oh, and don’t make them too perfect. Flaws are good! Flaws make us human.

Love Interest and Supporting Cast – Mentors, Minions, Allies and Love Interests all fit under this section. Note: These are characters that aid your main characters. I’m not talking about the guy who shows up in one scene and delivers the post.

Your Story

You need to ‘bullet point’ your story from beginning to end. Walk yourself through your story step by step. It’s better to hit your dead ends now so you can re-plot, rather than get 40k words in and realise you have to axe 10,000 of them.

Start with:

Normal World
Inciting Incident
Turning Point Act I into Act II
Turning Point Act II into Act III
Darkest Moment
Dénouement

Get to this point and voila! You have a story to write.

I know most of you may read this and think “Huh? What a waste of time.” I’ve met people like this and guess what? They are still at the same stage they were a year ago or more. My team mate Piper Bayard and I are living proof—this method works. Agents have requested fulls on both our manuscripts.

It’s like building a house. Do the prep-work: dig footings, add cement, lay bricks, and your building will stand for decades to come.

It was a pleasure being here and I wish you all the best with your writing!

Thank you,
Donna Newton

 

No, thank you Donna Newton!

What a wonderful introduction to Warrior Writers. And what great suggestions that will not only enhance the way we plot, but will also improve our writing ability.

So tell me, what do you think? If you’re like me, it seems there’s no end to what we can learn. Who of us would deny Kristen Lamb’s strong leadership abilities? Her previous students give powerful testimony of her remarkable teaching methods. So are we reaching out and taking advantage of those who have offered to help? If we do, we will all be successful!

Be sure to hit the follow buton for future posts! Thank you so much for your thoughts and salutations.

Karen McFarland

A big shout out to Kristen Lamb and all my new classmates in my #WANA1011 class and all others that may grace my presence by visiting this post. Take care and make it a great day!

28 thoughts on “Guest Post by Donna Newton

  1. Donna Newton

    I just want to thank Karen for inviting me over to her ‘house’, and getting the chance to meet all you guys.

    I love reading blog posts but have little time left nowadays to do it. My Blackberry is my life line and I try to read as many as I can while waiting outside the school for my kids.

    Karen, yours is one of the best I’ve read.

    Reply
    1. Karen Post author

      Uh Donna, now you’ve made me blush.

      It was a privilege to have you here and again, thank you for being a most gracious guest!

      As you can see, giving us the tools to write the “WWBC Way” was really appreciated.

      Thank you Donna! You are welcome at my ‘house’ anytime!

      Reply
  2. Kristy K. James

    Thanks for sharing this, Donna and Karen! I’ve known how important it is to do detailed biographies on my main characters (and less detailed histories on lesser characters) for years. And I still find myself trying, sometimes, to skimp because I’m in a hurry to get started. That leads me precisely to…nowhere. In fact, I’m stuck in the middle of a book right now that’s going nowhere fast, so I have to backtrack and get my homework done before I can start making headway again.

    Something else I try to share with other writers is something I read about some time ago. It’s a trick that came in very handy for one of my MC’s, who was set to star in the last book of a five part series. I did not like her at all, which was going to make writing the story almost impossible.

    What did I do? I interviewed her and her sister. Yeah, I know it sounds crazy, but it worked. It took awhile to get comfortable with it, and a bit longer before I found out where she was coming from…and why she was making the decisions that made it hard to like her.

    If anyone is having trouble, it’s another tool to add to your arsenal. 🙂

    Reply
    1. Karen Post author

      Thank you for sharing this Kristy! What a fantastic idea to interview your characters. If you’re crazy, we all must be crazy. I for one am going to take your suggestion and put it to good use.

      Reply
    1. Donna Newton

      Tameri, thank you so much. With regards to the book request – I just have to finish it, lol. Between writing a script (different story) and the novel, it is really difficult to retune. Still, I love it.

      Reply
      1. Donna Newton

        Blimey, you gals are gonna give me a big head 🙂

        I am happy to help anyone, anytime. All you have to do is drop me a line. I have (and still do) get help. We all need it and no matter what we think we know, there is always more to learn.

        Reply
  3. Sheila Seabrook

    Wonderful information, Donna. I need the logline to keep me on track. Otherwise, my protagonist moves through the story without a single goal. And I’m just figuring out structure now. Wow, I wish I’d understood structure about 5 books ago!

    Thank you! 🙂

    Reply
  4. Diane Capri

    Thanks for this, Karen & Donna. Novel structure was the last thing I learned before I was published, and how I wish it had been the first! Would have saved me soooooooooo many useless words and sleepless nights!

    Reply
    1. Karen Post author

      Oh Diane, I feel the same way. But it’s never too late to learn. I’m glad because I’d like to get a decent night’s sleep. 🙂

      Reply
  5. Lynn Kelley

    What a great post, Karen. Thanks for having Donna as your guest.

    Donna, thanks for sharing your techniques with us. I think we all love to hear a success story. Very inspirational! I need to check out your link about log lines!

    Reply
    1. Karen Post author

      My pleasure Lynn. Donna has offered her help to the wana group so don’t hesitate to ask. I know you too will be successful! See you soon!

      Reply
    2. Donna Newton

      I agree with Karen, Lynn. Both yourself and everyone on this thread sounds very ‘open’ to learning, and that is where the success begins….then it’s just a LOT of hard work 😀

      Reply
  6. Emma Burcart

    Thanks for the tips. I have always struggled with coming up iwith the log line. Actually I didn’t even know that’s what it was called. I have always dreaded the question, “What is your book about?” because my answer usually begins with, “Uh.” You have given me something to work with, now.

    Reply
    1. Karen Post author

      I too am grateful for the many tips from Donna and the WWBC! And you’re not alone Emma. I too have something to work on. Look forward to seeing you back soon!

      Reply
    2. Donna Newton

      Hey, log lines are a killer. I like to talk and summing up a whole book in one sentence is really hard for me.

      My current log line needs to be rewritten as my WWBC ‘Delta’ group didn’t know what a Reaper was. I just assumed that because I knew it was the Grim Reaper, everyone would.

      Reply

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