Monday, May 18, 2015

Top Ten Lessons Writers Can Learn from Mad Men

  1. Go epic or go home.
  2. Ground your story in time and place.
  3.  Let the girl who can't find love find it right under her nose. 
  4.  When your heroine must choose one thing or another, let her figure out that there's always a third option that may let her live her life on her own terms.
  5. Never underestimate the power of a French woman.
  6. To paraphrase Chekhov, if there's a (smoking, smoking, smoking) gun on the wall in Act One, someone better die of lung cancer by Act Three.
  7. Every story needs a trickster named Roger.
  8. Sometimes, in story as in life, the most annoying character gets to fly off into the horizon in a Lear jet.
  9. Give your hero his “om”  epiphany.
  10. End with theme. It gets them every time.

Copyright Paula Muiner 2015

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Monday, May 11, 2015

The 90,000-word Sweet Spot

Right now, when it comes to word count, it's all about 90,000 words. Virtually every book I try to shop by a debut author that's any longer than that--regardless of category--receives the same response from editors. In short, it's just too long. "No more than 90,000 words" seems to be the editor's mantra these days. So I've asked several of my clients shorten their stories--and am happy to say that we've won contracts when I shopped the shortened versions, often to the same editors who complained about the length of the original stories.

How to reach that 90,000-word sweet spot? Here's a neat trick I came up with that's proved useful for my clients and that may work for you as well.

Here's how 90,000 words (which is 360 pages at 250 words per page) breaks down by act:

Act One: 90 pages (22,500 words)

Act Two: 180 pages (45,000 words)

Act Three: 90 pages (22,500 words)

With that in mind, write out your  basic storyline in Major Plot Points only: Inciting Incident, Plot Point 1, Mid-Point, Plot Point 2, Denouement.  (If you need more information on plot points, take a look at my book Plot Perfect. )

Now, using the word counts by act as a general guideline, cut anything you can cut to the word counts outlined above. Anything that does not get you from plot point to plot point MUST GO.
Happy cutting!

Copyright Paula Munier 2014

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