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  1. Hollie

    Pitch Hollie Smurthwaite Pitch

    Title: It's Raining Men Genre: Romantic Comedy Length: 90,000 Author: Hollie Smurthwaite When Sahara chases her dog into the local commune, she discovers magic exists and accidentally bonds a witch-created sex slave to herself. Now she needs to break the spell before the witches find her or she...
  2. Hollie

    Discussion Thank you!

    Thanks everyone for signing up for this class! I'm still around for feedback or brainstorming or to answer any questions. I hope the information I've provided has been helpful to you. If there is anything you want to discuss outside of the lessons, please post it here. Good luck to all of you...
  3. Hollie

    Homework Ex: Leaning into your story

    Ex: Find a scene that's not working for you or one that you've been avoiding writing. Write or re-write the scene concentrating on what you do best: setting, dialogue, tense situations and pair that with the kinds of scenes you like to write: tense, lyrical, humorous, dreamy, surreal, violent...
  4. Hollie

    Lecture Lesson 13: Leaning and Language

    LEANING AND LANGUAGE There are many aspects of writing fiction: language, story, POV, story structure, images, dialogue, setting, character, humor, horror, tension, conflict, and the list goes on. It's far-fetched to expect to be good at everything, and why put that sort of pressure on...
  5. Hollie

    Homework Exercise - Situational Twist

    Exercise: I am setting up this premise, but feel free to use a different one to make it fit with your WIP (work in progress). The point of this exercise is to see how an unusual location or situation can help either liven up a boring scene, add comedic undertones, and develop/show character...
  6. Hollie

    Lecture Lesson 12: Swerving and Shifting Tacks

    SWERVING AND SHIFTING TACKS Sometimes a story goes in an unexpected direction. This can be bad or good. When it's bad, it can be called swerving. Swerving is when something that obviously should be addressed is not. For example, if a character comes slamming into a house covered in blood, the...
  7. Hollie

    Lecture Lesson 11: POV and Pacing

    POV AND PACING Point of View (POV) and pacing are both important considerations. Sometimes POV can be the change that opens everything. Any POV is technically acceptable, though there are upsides and downsides to each. First person singular (I): This is the closest POV. The reader is privy to...
  8. Hollie

    Homework POV and Pacing Exercises

    POV (Choose one of the following): Ex: Take a scene that isn't working and if it's in scene, write it in summary. If the scene is in summary, write it in scene. Remember afterward that you can also hybridize any scene. Ex: Take a pivotal emotional moment in your novel, and blow up the...
  9. Hollie

    Homework Character Twists

    Based on Jac Jemc's exercise: For a new character: Ex: Make a list of what makes you: happy, sad, angry, scared, desirous (pick one for each). Take that list and apply them to a character, except you must switch the category (e.g. what makes you happy makes your character angry). For a...
  10. Hollie

    Lecture Lesson 10: Twists and Quirks

    TWISTS AND QUIRKS Give your characters some quirks! Anita Blake, Vampire Hunter, the protagonist for Laurell Hamilton's very successful series has a stuffed penguin and a penguin mug. A bad-ass vampire killer isn't someone we'd expect to have an affection for penguins, which is what makes it so...
  11. Hollie

    Homework Conflict Exercises

    Ex: For your main characters, including your antagonist (if your antagonist is another person), make a list of their top five priorities (e.g. family, friends, work, hobbies, charities). Take the list and see if you can put any of those priorities in opposition to each other. Write a scene...
  12. Hollie

    Lecture Lesson 9: Character Conflict

    CONFLICT In real life, most people are conflict averse. We hold our tongues and complain to our friends and family later or play the scene over and over again in our minds, wishing we'd said or did something different. Obviously, not every character blurts out their frustrations and anger each...
  13. Hollie

    Discussion An "Unstuck" Newsletter

    Someone forwarded me this today, and I thought I'd share. This isn't about writing, but we can definitely take Melissa's advice! How I Get Unstuck H
  14. Hollie

    Homework Character Fleshing/Fixes

    For a new character: This is an exercise that I learned from Jac Jemc and have found really helpful. Ex: Make a list of what makes you: happy, sad, angry, scared, desirous (pick one for each). Take that list and apply them to a character, except you must switch the category (e.g. what makes...
  15. Hollie

    Lecture Lesson 8: Characters - Primary and Secondary

    Happy MLK Day! Hope everyone has the day off! CHARACTERS - PRIMARY AND SECONDARY Some stories are born out of an idea or a premise. In those cases, it can be easy to forget that fully fleshed characters are an essential part of any great story. A cool situation will get someone to want to...
  16. Hollie

    Discussion Checking In

    We're half way through the class! You guys have been awfully quiet, so I want to check in and see if there's anything you want to talk about. I want to be sure you get what you need from the class, so if there's anything you want to talk through or discuss, you can post here. It doesn't...
  17. Hollie

    Homework Twisting the Location

    Ex: Take a scene that isn't working (possibly low conflict or boring) and change the location or surroundings (e.g. summer with no A/C, winter with no heat, during a thunderstorm, hailing, bad weather in general, in a car that's almost out of gas, in the desert, lost in the forest, etc.). This...
  18. Hollie

    Lecture Lesson 7: Twists and Location

    TWISTS AND LOCATION: Twists: Irony and off-course. People are full of contradictions. Find them for your plot. Find the pressure point or tipping point for your character and go there. Books are about an extraordinary time in your character's life. It's not about how they never stood up for...
  19. Hollie

    Homework Stakes Exercise

    There are a ton of spreadsheets and books written about GMC (Goal, Motivation, Conflict), so I want to focus on stakes. What happens if the character doesn't get what they want? So, take an internal goal and an external goal and make a list of what might happen for both goals if they fail...
  20. Hollie

    Lecture Lesson 6: Stakes and Action

    WHAT THEY DO AND WHY IT MATTERS Something has to happen in your story. Preferably, many things. In most cases, the instrument of action is the main character. There are a few cases with protagonists that aren't the main engines for the story: Swing Time by Zadie Smith, The Great Gatsby by F...