Good Cats Don’t Race Dumb Dogs

dog.catonstool

Before anyone accuses me of disrespecting dogs, let me say that I’m a dog owner, and I absolutely love dogs. Cats are okay too, and I don’t recommend any cat try to outrun a dog, whether the cat thinks that dog is dumb or not. I’ve heard stories.

“Good Cats Don’t Race Dumb Dogs” is my mnemonic for the building blocks of scene and sequel structure that motivate and change the protagonist to move the story forward, hopefully with a willing reader along for the ride.

Scene:  Goal, Conflict, Disaster

Sequel: Reaction, Dilemma, Decision

While writing, I could never remember those specific terms, although I sometimes got the structure right by instinct and other times relied on a note kept near my computer keyboard. But I wanted a helpful device to recall scene and sequel structure in an instant. A mnemonic about animals was perfect for me.

I’ve read a number of books on the fiction writing craft that refer to or analyze that structure, introduced by Dwight V. Swain in his Techniques of the Selling Writer, I believe. I haven’t read any of his books, but I’m now reading K.M. Weiland’s Structuring Your Novel, and she refers to Swain’s work. Other published authors and bloggers, such as Randy Ingermanson, address the same structure. Sometimes the terms vary, but they have the same meaning.

So what do you think? Will this mnemonic help you remember, as it does me? Do you have a mnemonic for remembering anything else important to your writing?

 

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Writing Goals Are Like Trying to Lose Weight

weight1  I’d like to lose 30 pounds in 3 months. And I’d like to write 30,000 new words in one month (outside of editing).

Would LIKE to.

A cousin of mine can shed 20 pounds–BOOM!–whenever she wants. Often, I’ve seen her at a certain weight, and when I see her again in a month or two, she has a seemingly different body. And she doesn’t exercise. She simply disciplines herself to eat less. I’ve watched her and lived with her at times, so I know that’s how she does it.

Unfortunately, I don’t have the capacity to do anything in big chunks like that. I’m the type to pace myself and take small steps. I don’t want to feel as though I’m starving, so I cut back slightly on total intake and eliminate the worst of the worst foods. I lose a pound every couple of weeks. If I achieve the same results in a year instead of a few months, isn’t that okay?

It concerns me that a woman (or man) might beat herself up emotionally over her struggle with weight. And I worry about some of my writing friends who stress themselves out over their daily writing goals. A thousand or two thousand words per day is an admirable goal, but I wonder what it costs if their lives are already jam-packed with other goals and duties. I’d hate to think they berate themselves when the goal isn’t met.

I admire the highly disciplined. I really do. And there was a time when I was like that– I hit the floor running in the morning and didn’t stop until my head hit the pillow at night. But I’ve learned what I’m comfortable with at this stage of my life. I set my goals at amounts that don’t make me sick or take the joy out of my day. With 300 to 500 words written per day (including weekends), I can write one of my YA novels in 3 or 4 months.

tortoise  Not saying my way is right for anyone else but me.  But I reach my goal  just the same.

Do you have a goal you’re currently trying to achieve? What is your method of attaining it?

cynthia-toney Cynthia