Tag Archives: Lisa Cron

Week Three: Winter 2017 Online Writing Group

It’s the third week of this winter’s writing group!



Week Three Goals:


I had a productive week — but not for my writing. Fortunately, I have a real deadline to force me to make some headway because one of my short stories will be due as a homework assignment next week.

Anne D.: Coming soon…

Anne H.:

I did finish reading and watching Get Shorty, and I’m going to continue this week with reading and making notes on Save the Cat.


Since it’s the beginning of the new semester, I’m going to use this week to do some fleshing out and editing of the most recent two chapters of my novel and see how that goes. Being kind to myself the rest of the week. 😊


I finished my short story! I haven’t submitted it anywhere yet, so I’m behind on that, but since this week will be busier than usual (Cynthia already mentioned that the new semester starts this week), I can do some quick submissions. My goal, other than submitting, is to work on continuing to develop my new course outline.


I was able to get a few pages done this week. It feels like a miracle.
I plan to do this same this week.


It’s been a week of dogged progress, mostly restricted to two stories in the group. My plan for next week is just to keep going.


My Week Three goal is to finish the first week of a Coursera course, Creative Writing: The Craft of Plot.


My Week Three goal will be the same as my Week Two goal (just had one of those weeks at work :/ I’ll blame Friday the 13th and the full moon): to write a first draft of my essay. 


This week’s progress: 5,300 words
next week’s goal:  2,000 words


Week Three Goals: 10 more pages which will include the conclusion (insert panic). Then edit, edit, edit. I believe I will be just a page or two shy of the minimum page requirement but I have some sections where I have just been putting place holders until I could get back around to the topic. I have never been very good at jumping around in my writing, I am a start to finish kind of writer.


This week’s “advice” will be short and sweet.

I’ve written before about Lisa Cron’s book on writing, Wired for Story, and I wanted to mention her advice about protagonists. She says that writers must know what their protagonists want, and why they want it. This is important because the protagonist’s motivation must inform every action they take, every decision they make. And as a writer, you must know why your character wants what they want. Is your main character being honest with herself that she really wants her family to reunite and be happy; but does she really just want to prove her mother wrong in front of the rest of the family? Now, make sure that everything your protagonist does is fueled by that motivation.

Cron also mentions that everything in the story must be put there to give your protagonist an opportunity to act, react, and make decisions. If it’s not purposeful, then it’s just a device for drama, and that’s ultimately not very interesting.

I found this glaringly obvious in a book I just finished reading, Ruth Ware’s The Woman in Cabin 10. The protagonist of Ware’s book was beset by all sorts of obstacles that increased the drama, but none of them really tested her character in any real way. Because she didn’t really have a character to speak of. She was murky from start to finish, so every new complication was just a complication, and I yelled at every decision she made because she was just a dummy doing dumb things and I didn’t care about her.

So, don’t do that! But do read Lisa Cron’s book — it’s full of interesting and straight-forward writing advice that you can use for large and small pieces.

Come back mid-week for Rachel’s guest post, and good writing, everyone!


Cron, Lisa. Wired for Story: The Writer’s Guide to Using Brain Science to Hook Readers from the Very First Sentence. Berkeley: Ten Speed Press, 2012. Print.












Week Three: Winter 2016 Online Writing Group

It’s the third week of our winter writing group, which means we’re almost finished. All of our writers are making their goals and kicking ass.

Updates and Week Three Goals:

  • Anne: I am going to continue with my notetaking from Burroughs and other sources. It is working — I’m getting specific ideas and motivation for my WIP [work in progress]. I’m even having the nerve to say that I have a WIP!
  • Laura: I have to repeat my week two goal, since I focused all of my energy on prepping for the first week of school (this is not an excuse). So this week I’ll figure out what motivates my protagonist, and then I’ll start to organize my plot to make her work for it.
  • Lisa: This week, my goal is to write five more pages. Woo hoo!
  • Matt: I had assigned myself two stories to focus on last week, and I did focus on them, but found that my level of satisfaction with those stories was already fairly high. What was nagging at me was Boring to the Punchline, the second story in the book. Unexpectedly, I had begun to question that story on some fundamental levels, asking myself whether its overall contribution to the narrative was even justified. Throughout the week I was dragged back to it over and over again, writing and rewriting and excising and adjusting balances.  I’m still not sure where I stand with it.
    Over the next week, my “plan” is to focus on the final two stories in the book (Something Old, Something New, Something Borrowed, Wild Africa! and Hang Gliders, Jet Packs, or Very Tall Stilts: a Jack and Pokie Mystery) but reason tells me to expect a series of returns to the second story as well. I’m not sure what is going to happen, but something about Boring to the Punchline is still demanding my attention and apparently I’m too thick to understand what it needs. [I told Matt that sometimes this takes space and some time away from the story to figure out, which is antithetical to what he feels. Anyone else have other suggestions?]
  • Robert: So far I’ve written 3,209 words in the last two weeks. My week 3 weekly goal will be 1750 words again.

I spent some time last week looking over Lisa Cron’s book Wired for Story: The Writer’s Guide to Using Brain Science to Hook Readers from the Very First Sentence (I’ve written about Cron’s book before) and I wanted to share some useful bits she writes about that might help us.

In the second chapter, Cron talks about focus, which she describes as “the synthesis of three elements that work in unison to create a story: the protagonist’s issue, the theme, and the plot” (Cron 27).

As Cron continues to talk about putting a plot together, she says that a writer must choose the events that create the most challenging course for the protagonist (28). I found this quite helpful, even though I’m thinking about a detective novel, which, on its face, seems as though it should be focused on the crime alone. But the best crime fiction I read — written by people like Tana French and Sara Gran — makes sure that the protagonist is affected by the crime and the elements of that crime that come up during the course of the case or the story. This connection makes the stories I enjoy most more literary than just a police procedural; they are deeper than just a case file.

Cron writes that “A Story Is About How the Plot Affects the Protagonist” (31), so that is my task for you all this week: ask and answer the question, how is my plot affecting my protagonist? If there’s something in your story — a big something, a major plot point — that’s not, identify how you can adjust it so that it becomes more of challenge to your main character.

Good writing this week, everyone!

Cron, Lisa. Wired for Story: The Writer’s Guide to Using Brain Science to Hook Readers from the Very First Sentence. Berkeley: Ten Speed Press, 2012. Print.