I won Jami in her awesome cool blogoversary party and here she is! On my blog! How cool is that? So be nice to her, okay?
I’m tickled to be guest posting with Pauline today. We’ve known each other on Twitter since forever, and it’s cool to visit her online home.
Pauline asked me to write about how and why I started creating all of my worksheets for writers. If you’re not familiar with that page on my website, I have plotting beat sheets to go along with Blake Snyder’s Save the Cat book, Larry Brooks’ Story Engineering book, and a Frankenstein beat sheet combining those two. I also have character arc beat sheets based on Michael Hauge’s work, a romance arc beat sheet based on everything I’ve learned, and worksheets to make sure a scene is necessary.
In short, I’ve gone crazy with MS Word and Excel in a quest to help writers make their stories stronger. And I’m not done yet. Why do I do it?
The easy answer is that although I write by the seat of my pants, I’m a plotter to the extreme in the rest of my life. From the time I was a child, I was the one who would research and plan family trips, and if I didn’t, my parents asked me if I was feeling okay in all seriousness.
Whether my day jobs included process improvement and standardization as part of the job description or not, I’ve always created checklists and process flows and whatnot for my positions. So I guess the real question is, why would I treat this writing gig any differently? *smile*
My addiction to writing worksheets started innocently enough. I’d heard great things about Blake Snyder’s Save the Cat book, and I was using it to revise my first pantsed novel. I found Elizabeth Davis’s Save the Cat beat sheet and loved how it would give me target word counts for when plot events should happen depending on my total word count. Yay!
Hmm, but I also loved Larry Brooks’s Story Engineering beats, and no beat sheet existed for that yet. *shakes internet* Why, internet, why? This should exist! *ahem* Er, yeah, so I created that one myself. Being the pathologically helpful person I am, I decided to share it.
The response from the writing community was gratifying, and it’s only increased as I’ve added more resources. I receive tweets on a regular basis from people thanking me for the worksheets I’ve created. They tell me it’s saving their story. They pass on the links to their friends who they know are struggling. They make the time spent working on all those documents worthwhile.
I know not everyone has the mindset for organizing information or pulling out action-able items from a long narrative. And if my little touch of insanity for organizing and detailing to the nth degree can help other writers, I’m thrilled for the opportunity.
In fact, I’m now asking writers what other worksheets they’d like to see. If I’m qualified to make them, or if I can find a great resource for the information I need, I’m happy to create more worksheets to help writers.
Honestly, I’m kind of an addict now. Last fall, for the first time, I created a beat sheet from scratch, this one for planning and tracking romance arcs. I built it by tapping into everything I’ve learned over the years, and I’m especially proud of it because nothing like it had existed before.
Creating something from nothing… That’s kind of like the thrill we get from forming a story out of a blank page, isn’t it? And as a bonus, I’m helping other writers too. Life doesn’t get any better than that. *smile*
After a magical pocket watch landed her beside Pauline on the scenic route, Jami Gold moved to Arizona and decided to become a writer, where she could put her talent for making up stuff to good use. Fortunately, her muse, an arrogant male who delights in causing her to sound as insane as possible, rewards her with unique and rich story ideas.
Fueled by chocolate, she writes paranormal romance and urban fantasy tales that range from dark to humorous, but one thing remains the same: Normal need not apply. Just ask her family—and zombie cat.
I can’t thank Jami enough for guest blogging today. So please give her some comment love and check out her worksheets. They are awesome. 🙂 Don’t forget comments are cool and they get you entered into my monthly drawing for some AnaBanana goodies. Winner is announced first blog post of the new month.