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(reblogged from Sacha Black)

Pace Tension2I always thought being visual and a writer was a massive contradiction. I don’t mean having an imagination. Obviously a writer needs an imagination. I mean, in the way we process information.

See, when I think, or try to work out a problem, like how to prevent the terror tot shoving his finger up his nose in public, I think in pictures and voices. Yes, I hear a voice in my head, but not the kind of voice that whispers violent temptations, although sometimes it might be nice to blame my rage on it… Where was I? Some people think in words or numbers or actions. If you have synesthesia you might even think in colours, senses or feelings.

This has never been a problem for me. It just meant I created mood boards for my story worlds and characters on my pinterest or instagram, rather than filling out character templates and scene plans.

That was until I wanted to check the pacing and tension of my novel.

Once you’re knee-deep wading through the slush of your story, you know as well as I do, you can’t see the commas for the sentences. Let alone step back enough to see the shape of your newly trimmed bush manuscript.

So I set about some research and have figured out my own method, using a Sacha sandwich of pilfered ideas, to help visual writers figure out their uppers from their downers.

But before I launch headlong into visual trickery, I need to caveat what I’ve done.

Story structure takes many forms. All stories build the tension until they reach their big O crescendo ending.

Murder mysteries usually start with a bang, have a gradual build up followed by a spangly-jazz-pants reveal at the end. Fantasy stories, Young Adult in particular tend to have a few more ups and downs spread throughout their stories.

Like anything in fiction, there are as many story structure followers as dark horse structure breakers. But that’s what makes stories interesting.

However, for the purposes of allowing me to wear my scientists white jacket and entertaining my experiment for a while longer, lets accept that most stories need to follow a progressively increasing line of tension.

There are a couple of basic story structures that are easy to follow, Dan Wells gives a great lecture series on the Seven Point Plot Plan which you can see in this YouTube video. If you haven’t watched it, you should.

In the videos he explains the various key points in a story:


Plot Point 1 (conflict)

Pinch Point 1 (more conflict/pressure/shit goes wrong)


Pinch Point 2 (more conflict, shit gets real when we think the heroes going to lose/die/spontaneously combust)

Plot Point 2 (suddenly the hero has the thing/tool/power he needs to win, yay)

Resolution (big fight, hero wins, villains dragging his spanked tail between his legs)

Read the rest of the post here.