The Secret to Stumbling Accross Your Plot and Characters

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Workshop Handouts

Best Selling Author, Anna DeStefano

The Secret to Stumbling across your Plot and Characters This fourth and final workshop in Anna's popular writing craft series delves into the psychology and the skill sets required to produce a complete, complex manuscript that's destined to sell. Anna pulls the key points from her Planning, Improvisation/Drafting , and Rewriting workshops into a 50 minute program that highlights the executive "soft" skills you 'll need to get and stay published in a challenging market: Inspiration, Passion, Joy and Determination. Without these, the rest is just busy work...

The Secret to Stumbling...


Best Selling Author Anna DeStefano


The psychology of producing a complete, complex manuscript •

Plan/Draft/Rewrite—The things you know you can do. Really. Anyone Can. In other words, these are NOT the keys to the kingdom. We ALL stumble from there.

A glimpse down the rabbit hole—Inspiration, passion, joy, determination. It's all emotion, once you have the ABCs (P-D-R) done solid

Deconstructing your creative process---What inspires you, what holds you back. My agent and I working on deconstructing the proposal, pitch, selling dynamic. Looking deeper at the comm skills and psychology of getting published. What gets you through the spooky, magical forest and safely back home? Alice in Wonderland/Wizard of Oz. Magical journeys of exploration and discovery.

Stumble with a purpose—What was the that purpose in these two examples? Getting Home. It's all about the journey. It's all about stumbling. So, stumble with growing awareness, purpose and confidence.

To summarize, before we start (here's my analytical list): Writing something as complex as a novel is a journey. A spooky journey. Magic is required, not just craft. And the best stuff often comes when you stumble... Remember, you're stumbling home, so make the most of the journey. Find Anna on FaceBook and Twitter!

The Secret to Stumbling...


Best Selling Author Anna DeStefano


Inspiration—the spooky mystery of writing a novel •

You're going to get lost along the way. You have to lose yourself so story and character can come alive. Resistance is futile. Knowing this is coming makes all the difference in the world. Allow yourself to become part of the process (stumble with determination and purpose), rather than another obstacle.

Be inspired by the spookiness and lack of guarantee that you'll get there. Follow the yellow bricks the little people show you. Eat the forbidden apple. Befriend the talking nut that looks like a scarecrow but can't possibly be one, or the cat with the crazy eyes or the rabbit that should be there. Eat the tea cakes...


Passion—this is the magic that we live for •

You need passion to get through the crusty zone. That's my term for what happens to my general appearance when I'm on deadline. Had to scrape the crusty off to be here today and not scare anyone. Editorial revisions due Monday.

Or think of it as being in labor. Get it out!!! Ask any published author about the drama of getting the story out.. We're all lost at some point, and passion to get the story out and see it living on page is what gets us through. And, the real secret... Most of us need the drama of the process. Not just because it gives us something new to bitch about with our girlfriends when we call, freaked out, in the middle of the night. But because when we feel lost we're more determined to find our way home.

We need the magic, the passion, that comes with being lost in story. Out of control. Unsure... Basically, we're drama queens. Wear your badge with pride. Find Anna on FaceBook and Twitter!

The Secret to Stumbling...



Best Selling Author Anna DeStefano


Joy—in the stumbling (see the magic around you, not the ground you're falling on) •

Don't hate the stumbling. That's hating your story and characters, which is hating yourself, because story/character/whatever—it's all you.

Find joy in playing. Let go and see what's there. See what's you and what's not and where it can take you. Down the rabbit hole, over the rainbow to OZ.

Easy? No, not when you're in pain with a draft or schlogging through revisions and are sure you're going to fail (and we all are). But there is joy there, because you're creating magic and you want to share it with the world.

Find joy, even when things are most difficult, and joy will find you: Magic I can't imagine when I'm struggling through the more painful parts of my writing process. Magic that won't happen if I hadn't reached my goal and find my way home!

Determination—bringing it home •

Put yourself on deadline, even if you're not writing to one. Make yourself work. Learn how to work on your writing/stumbling, even when life is tripping you—picture all the obstacles Alice and Dorothy faced and kept searching.

Some things I've dealt with while working on looming deadline: Hurricane Katrina relief and crisis care Husband lost job for 10 months (1st year on board) Family members in crisis or dying (three this year so far) Industry changing under my feel like quicksand Major health problems that stop you in your tracks And these are the non-writing/writing block things...

Make time for the searching and the journey, but there has to be a ticking clock. You have to keep the goal in mind. Writing The End! No excuses.

Be aware of your journey while it's happening, so you can recreate/improve the creative process the next time. For the next book. Which you'll start as soon as you're rested...except were never really rested...see the drama queen reference above...basically, get back to work!

Fight to find your way home. Find Anna on FaceBook and Twitter!

The Secret to Stumbling...



Best Selling Author Anna DeStefano


To summarize, now that we're done: •

Writing something as complex as a novel is a journey.

A spooky journey.

Magic is required, not just craft.

And the best stuff often comes when you stumble...

Remember, you're stumbling home. Keep your destination in mind, while you stumble and make the most of your journey ;o)


Anna DeStefano Anna DeStefano is the nationally best selling author of classic romance for Harlequin and Silhouette, and contemporary paranormal romantic suspense for Dorchester publishing. She's a two-time Romantic Times Award winner, a Golden Heart winner, and she's won the Gale Wilson Award of Excellence, the Maggie Award for Excellence, and has been a finalist in numerous other awards, including the National Readers Choice awards, the Holt Medallian, and the Book Buyers Best Award. Past President Advisor of Georgia Romance Writers (GRW), a group of over 200 published authors and aspiring writers that meets monthly in Atlanta, Anna is GA Tech honors graduate with 10 years of experience working in Corporate IT, She applies the more analytical side of her personality to studying the craft of storytelling. Her interactive workshops on the writing process—plotting through character, improvisation (drafting), and rewriting—regularly attract standing room-only crowds wherever she speaks. She's presented to over 60 conferences and groups, including the Harriette Austin Writer's Conference at the University of Georgia, the Pacific Northwest Writers Conference, and the Surrey International Writers Conference. Find Anna on FaceBook and Twitter!