WIP Coaching: Chloe

The last time I spoke with Gabi, she gave me homework. It was something I’ve never done with my other stories.


This is the kind of homework I did in college. I found this picture and though cool, I could’ve done this exact problem. This problem is easy because there’s only one right answer.  
But with writing, it’s more complicated. I have to figure out the question. Then the answer. Then go back and figure out how to get to the answer.
So my homework will help me focus on how to get everything in between. Here are the things I need to determine.  

-Chloe’s long-term goals
-Chloe’s short-term goals
-Chloe’s character flaws, which keep her from getting those goals
-Who Chloe is at the beginning and at the end (and for all the other important characters)
Additionally, I need to look at my plotting, by determining:
-the inciting incident that puts everything in motion
-the turning points, the crucial moments that change the direction of the story
-the black moment, when everything has fallen apart
-the ah-ha moment, when Chloe figures it out 
Plus I needed to re-write things because I will be sending her my first 40-50 pages instead of 20. It’s a good thing I had two weeks this time, because I never would’ve finished this by the week after Easter.
I’ve got my first 50 pages. I re-arranged and added a new scene. I have most of the goals and now I need to decide how a few of the supporting characters change.
So for other writers out there, do you do things like these? Does it help you?

10 Responses

  1. I have only written one first draft of a novel, but I did have to do all the things you listed. I’m very much a Type-A kind of person and I have to know where I’m going before I start writing. I can be a little more creative (pantser) type in the middle, but I still have to know about four chapters in advance of what I need to write. I used the Novel in 30 Days book to help me fill out those structural parts, and then a couple of different books/methods to get to the character development. It did help me a ton, because I don’t (I think) need to change a whole lot while going through the second draft.

    1. I have yet to figure out what works best for me, but I think you have the right idea. Get the basic plan down and go from there. With my next story, I’d like to try getting my ideas down in an outline and determining all this before I start writing. Just to see how that works for me. I’d imagine I’m somewhere inbetween though, plan a little, pants a little.

  2. I think the fact that there is no distinct answer is the reason I both love and find writing frustrating 🙂 Anything that is so subjective, actually.

    As far as mapping out the things you’ve listed…I don’t. Not before I write. But I could tell you the answer to all of these questions now that I’ve typed ‘the end’.

    Sounds like your getting some great advice though!

    1. I’m definitely learning a lot about things I never considered before. The key in the end is to figure out my balance and how it works for me. But I’ll be able to take this new knowledge back and apply it to all my other stories I’ve written–when I get the time.

  3. I love the way your brain works! I am never this organized with my writing. 🙂 I write by feel and can hardly stand to crack open a writing craft book. They give me a headache. But I do admire people who can work out plot problems this way. Best of luck with your revisions!

    1. Well since this is my first time attempting to be organized, we’ll see how it works. I think it’ll help me better identify scenes that work and don’t. At least I hope.

  4. I am in love with your organization. I think along similar lines. Character arc is a huge part of my plotting. I want to make sure I get my MC’s right! Thanks for sharing your process. It rocks!

    1. I have to admit. I didn’t even think about character arc until recently. Maybe that’s why my current query story isn’t going anywhere. Whenever I hear the words character arc, my mind pictures an actual arc (mathmatical, not boat).

  5. I’m so not an organized writer… I just write what I feel and then piece things together later… I’m TRYING to map things out, learn to organize things visually, it’s helped with my second novel a bit, but it’s still a struggle! Great post!

  6. ALWAYS do something like this.

    I sort of do it in layers, like I write.

    In my first draft I have an idea of starting place, and finishing place, and all I worry about when I write is – what does my character want in this scene, and how do I keep them from getting it.

    When I get near the end I start to look at the more far-reaching goals and my character arc and the story arc.

    One of the greatest pieces of advice on character arc I’ve ever gotten is to make sure that in a given situation your character would act differently in that situation at the end of the book than at the beginning.

    There is a LOT to consider. Great post.

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