Writing the Middle

In both the private IWOSC workshop and the screenwriting classes I teach, we’ve been talking about how you create ideas for the middle. How do you create the obstacles and challenges your protagonist needs to face?

One of the ways is to use clustering or mind mapping focussing on a particular word that would resonate in your story or from your theme, or even a personality trait of your protagonist or antagonist.

Another way to develop ideas is by looking at your protagonist’s and/or antagonist’s moral, ethical, or religious code that he or she lives by and figuring out who is breaking what part of the code and what the outcome is for the characters.

I’ve posted another idea using Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs at http://www.thewriterscompass.com/2012/02/creating-ideas-for-the-middle-act/. Let me know if these help you get through that middle act in your writing–or if they don’t.

WARNING: SHAMELESS PLUG HERE – in The Writer’s Compass: From Story Map to Finished Draft in 7 Stages, starting at page 63, “Stage One – Developing Ideas,” there are pages and pages of ways to create ideas that can help you to develop your story. Also available are 10 creative writing exercises that will help you to kickstart your writing that are sold on this website as an ebook for $2.49 on the “Look Here for Freebies and eBooks to Purchase” page.


Video Presentation of The Writer’s Compass

September 15, 2011, my 45-minute lecture at the Pepperdine Payson Library was videotaped and can be accessed for free here. http://itunes.apple.com/us/itunes-u/nancy-dodd-the-writers-compass/id499064657. The lecture discusses story mapping and the 7 stages.


Guidelines for Getting & Giving Feedback


Guidelines for Getting & Giving Feedback


Updated February 2012, Guidelines for Getting & Giving Feedback offers information on The Big C – Criticism. This ebook includes 10 Guidelines for Giving Feedback, 10 Guidelines for Getting Feedback, and 10 Tips for Moderating Critique Groups. Sample Writers’ Group Agreement and Writer’s Critique forms are also included.

Finding the Muse

10 Creative Writing Exercises

$2.49 Click here to purchase

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To purchase this ebook, click here to link to The Writer’s Compass website, scroll down the page to “Finding the Muse” and add to the shopping cart.

These are original, unique, and thought-provoking exercises written to both stimulate new ideas for your stories and to enrich the direction of your creativity. They are designed to build your ideas from inception and expand them into a scene. The exercises also work well in a group setting as a warm-up writing exercise or as a group writing exercise.

The Hero

In the heat of the Vietnam War, two American soldiers, morally polar opposites, find themselves struggling to get back to the landing zone. One injured during battle, the other determined to be the hero his father wanted him to be, fights against time to carry the wounded man out. Both learn what it means to be “the hero.” This short story is 4200 words.

VIDEO: VIEW FOR FREE 37-minute film set in Afghanistan. Produced by Kevin Sizemore; stars Kevin Sizemore, Anthony Griffith, Roy Cummins; directed by Shawn Fornari; written by Nancy Ellen Dodd. at http://www.spike.com/video-clips/j9hp28/the-hero.

footstep in sand

My Father’s Footsteps

My Father’s Footsteps

4-Minute VideoVIEW FOR FREE

Starring Cliff Shiepe, Sophia Cash
Written by Nancy Ellen Dodd
Cinematography by Steven Fraasa


Photo by: Hannah Gunnell

Do It For Me

An inspirational poem especially for writers


After a particularly difficult rejection, this inspirational poem came to me while walking on the beach


Pepperdine Payson Library

September 15, 2011

45-minute presentation on story mapping and the 7 stages