Do you ever wonder how to get from a character -- to a plot?
Or do you ever worry that your stories are full of events and action -- and yet readers don't seem to be very engaged?
And what do people really mean when they say your protagonist is "too passive"?
If you would like a simple, clear way to build up a compelling tale, this video is for you.
It shows you why "desire" is the secret ingredient of most good stories.
You can take these ideas and start sketching out scenes immediately.
Or you can go back to your WIP and adding more "desire" back in.
You just need to be able to answer this question: what does my character care about?
As you'll see, this approach is all about creating dramatic scenes in which your protagonist wants something very much, and yet can't quite get it.
In a lively, action-packed scene, or a quiet, emotionally weighty one, "desire" works to clarify to the reader what is at stake.
In a narrative, desire sets the stakes. By making the protagonist's desires more open and more explicit, you will be able to
- keep the reader informed and engaged
- develop exactly who your character is, and how they are unique
- help yourself, as the writer, feel like your draft is staying on track
If you have ever struggled to develop and escalate a dramatic plot, this video may be very helpful for you.
Now let's write!
Teaching should never just be a clever person handing out ideas.
The key thing is to put the ideas to work -- as soon as possible.
So, if you enjoyed the video, and would like to try those techniques out, now it's time to actually get writing: I've prepared a printable worksheet for you to download.
You will sketch out a scene using the video's techniques.
You'll also see an example from me, a sketch of a novel's opening. I made this story up just now -- it's a novel I haven't written yet, about a guitarist with a crush and a secret identity online.
In other words, you'll see an illustration of the techniques from the video.
Click the yellow button, below, to access the printable.
GET THE WORKSHEET HERE:
PS Now, just to let you know what's coming, when you click the link, you'll see a request from me -- I'm asking a small favour in return for sharing my writing and the worksheet.
It's simply this: to help me spread the word. I would love it if you told one other person about the above video.
I am a very good writer, and a very good teacher, but I tend to struggle at advertising, so I would really appreciate a quick share on social media.
What other writers say:
I wish I had taken a class like this sooner.
"With Daniel's scene instruction workshop, I was able to write more quickly and competently. He created a path for writing my chapters. Using his scene maps, I understood the scene I was crafting and how it functioned within the framework of my novel. He created a path for writing my chapters, and I could focus on both the narrative and character arcs simultaneously. I wish I had taken a class like this sooner. I would've been a better novelist and my short story production would've been much larger."
JOHN VURRO // Writer
Daniel’s courses are chock full of useful information.
"Not all good writers are good teachers, but Daniel David Wallace (a talented, thoughtful writer himself) is a terrific instructor. If you can take a class with him, do it!"
JULIA BROWN // Editor and author
Is it weird that I think of him as my literary midwife? Because I totally do.
"Daniel respected my work and vision on a profound level but also had a keen editorial eye and a stroke of literary genius that took everything I’d written to the next level."
TAWNI WATERS // Award-Winning Author of The Long Ride Home & Beauty of the Broken
Why this method works
When I was starting out as a writer, I really worried how to start a novel.
How much information did readers need?
Did I need to begin with a fight -- or with a monologue?
Above all, how could I be interesting?
I studied all kinds of approaches.
I read guides and attended workshops, but I continued to feel confused.
Often, a particular theory would give advice about how to get to page twenty-five, or page one-hundred (the "call to action" or the "inciting incident"), but this didn't help me, because I wanted to know what I should put on page one.
I wasn’t looking for a magic trick.
I knew that every story would be different and unique, but I wanted a more reliable framework for than just "start writing."
Even after I landed an agent for my first work-in-progress, I was still curious about this problem.
I eventually did a PhD in creative writing. I researched narrative form, rhetorical appeals, and the science of skill acquisition.
I came to believe that many, many writers were damaging their stories by not providing their readers with enough meaning and clarity on the page.
Now, fiction is a huge and diverse art form, and this model of "desire" won't work for every kind of story, but chances are, it will probably be useful for your novel-project.
So far, it has worked for many of the writers I have coached.
Join the Seminar
More videos are coming.
During this "novel writing seminar," I'll share techniques and printable worksheets for:
- picking a good narrator for your story
- creating a protagonist who takes action
- avoiding stress and blockages
- knowing when to STOP researching
- building an outline with boxes and arrows
These are the same techniques I've taught to dozens of writers.
It's a comprehensive, free course for aspiring novelists.