Weekend Writing Workout (For Those of You Whose Weekend Starts on Monday)

I am officially on vacation until Jan 18th, but didn’t want to leave you empty handed. Middle Grade Mondays will return on Jan 23. In the meantime, be sure to check out the other regular Middle Grade Mondayers HERE.

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So (big pat on back), I finished the final rewrite of The Ruins of Noe for my publisher. Literally, a few days before I was done, something dawned on me. Something I can’t believe I hadn’t noticed during the seven rewrites of the story.

When writing, I often refer back to the HERO’s JOURNEY, which is a great resource when writing fantasy adventure. As a matter of fact, I once used it as my outline for a screenplay.

frrom screenwriting.4filmmaking.com

The Hero’s Journey always begins with the “Call the Adventure.” The hero (or heroine) is presented with a challenge. It can come in the form of a message (news, letter, phone call, email, dream, etc) or a situation (temptation, loss, crime, ultimatum, etc).

Most of the time we have what is called a “reluctant hero.” The hero doesn’t just jump into gear, make a plan, and rush to save the world. She is being asked to face her greatest fears and/or the unknown. This is when we set the stakes for our hero’s inaction. And for readers to really care about our hero, the higher the stakes are the better. In the case of my first book, the stakes are the lives of everyone in the White Forest.

There is a great deal of satisfaction when our hero overcomes this reluctance and makes the decision to take up the challenge. The hero’s doubt also makes him/her more empathetic to us, because who does not have doubts, fears, and insecurities? We want our hero to OVERCOME these as part of his/her arc.

So what did I find missing during my rewrite?

I had Brigitta’s “refusal” to the call (Brigitta is full of all kinds of doubt), but I didn’t actually put in the moment when Brigitta makes the decision to take up the challenge. Granted, your hero can unconsciously make the decision, or be forced into action for having no other alternative, but I wanted Brigitta to make a conscious decision to go on the journey. She does so when she realizes the stakes are too high for her to refuse.


Set your timer for 5 minutes. Start at the top of the page with the following startline: My protagonist refuses the Call the Adventure because . . .

Write, don’t stop, don’t edit, don’t cross out.

When the timer stops, Set your timer for 7 more minutes. Start with the following line: The stakes are so high that if my protagonist refuses the call . . .

Write, don’t stop, don’t edit, don’t cross out.

When the timer stops, Set your timer for 10 more minutes. Start with the following line: When my protagonist finally accepts the Challenge she does so and then . . .

Write, don’t stop, don’t edit, don’t cross out.

Read your exercises, make notes, highlight what makes sense.

See you soon!


  1. Deb Marshall
    Jan 10, 2012

    Congrats on the Secrets of Noe!!

    And lol on the weekend start—for some of us it’s, er…Wednesdays.

  2. Thanks, Deb! The marketing machine is cranking up again.

  3. Astrid Lightly
    Jan 21, 2012

    Good job on your new book!
    thanks so much for coming to my book club today, its any aspiring writers joy to talk to a real life writer. I think the Workouts are a fantastic thing to do, and let me say that you are one of the most organized writers in the way of prep work that I’ve ever had the luck to talk to. I will try to work hard on my writing blog!

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