Tag Archives: Hockey

A Hockey Lesson by Casey Wyatt

Happy Friday! Casey here!

So much snow…..

I read the most interesting quote by hockey legend Wayne Gretzky –  “I skate to where the puck is going to be, not where it has been.”

Now, I probably missed this very cool piece of wisdom because I don’t really follow sports. At all. Other than wondering how the Red Sox are faring, I leave all the sports love to my hubby.

Once I read this quote, it rattled around in my head for days. There are so many ways that this is true for writers as well. The first, most obvious comparison is the question a lot of us ask – should we write to the latest market trends?

For me, that is a big, resounding no. Chasing trends, for most writers, is an exercise in futility. By the time you finish your book and get it published, chances are high, the trend has passed by already. Write what you love.

Instead, I’d rather apply Mr. Gretzky’s wisdom to another lesson in plotting. If you’ve been following along, here is where we’ve been: Initial Premise, Shallow Character Development, Three Act PlottingThe Meat and Potatoes and, GMC (goal, motivation, conflict). Since I addressed GMC last year, please check this post out too (really, it’s an important part of plotting).

However you arrive at your plot points, either on index cards (like I do), sticky notes, Scrivener, outline or whatever – they must be arranged in a pulse pounding, forward moving direction. Like a hockey puck!!

Your job as a writer is to move that story along and chuck anything that doesn’t meet that goal. So like the hockey puck, your job is to see the reader to their final destination – an engaging, page turning story.

<and the crowd goes wild>!!! <Insert your own imaginary victory crowd here>

As stated last week, the reason I use index cards is because they are cheap and I can chuck them without remorse. The other nice thing is they can be pinned on a big board or laid out on a table or floor. And don’t be afraid to number the cards or create categories (like main plot, romantic subplot, back story, etc.) Use different colors of ink or highlighter (whatever floats your boat).

Once, I’m sure I have all the major plot points jotted down, I sort the cards into piles for each act. Then once I have the cards into Act 1, 2 or 3, I order them sequentially. At each pass, I read them and determine if that plot point fits. If it doesn’t I remove it. If I notice something is missing, I may add a new plot point.

If I know something is missing but don’t know how to fill the gap, I keep a running list on a piece of paper. Later, I can add another plot point, either before or during writing.

Keep in mind, that while I think this is what the story will be, it’s not final until I start writing. Nothing is set in stone. I can (and will) modify the plot during writing or editing if warranted.

Now, the fun part (for me anyway). I lay out the cards starting with Act 1 and read through them paying attention to the “action”. Do I have too many scenes with talking in a row? Not enough romance? Do I have try/fail moments? Too much action for long

Seriously? Who can write with so much cuteness nearby?
Seriously? Who can write with so much cuteness nearby?

stretches? Did I remember the black moment? Are all the subplots wrapped up? And my favorite question – how can I torment the characters more?

The beauty of the cards is that I can move things around. I add and subtract plot points as needed. This activity allows me to see the plot as a whole in small, manageable chunks. And if there’s a sagging middle, I’ll see it here.

Overall, this is a great way to visualize pacing and ensure that you’ve cut out plot points that drag. This process can take me days or weeks. Depends on the story and the complexity. When I’m sure I have the plot I want, I take the cards and type them into a synopsis and use it as the basis for writing the story.

If at any point while plotting or writing, you get stuck, make sure  you have your eye on the end point, not just the immediate moment. That way, you’ll make it to your destination, and for a writer, that is typing – “the end.” Or if you are a hockey player – you shoot. You score!!!

What method do you use to order your plot? Anyone have any fascinating quotes to share?

I Dream of a Miracle

Hello, everybody. Suze here filling in for Viv.  For all of you New Englanders currently without power (and that includes me and most of the Scribes), here’s hoping you get your juice back soon!  Start worshipping the Electricity Goddess, wouldja? (I’d give my queendom for a hot shower!)  The storm has thrown us all a bit of a curve, so we’re switching up.  Viv will be back next week, but in the meantime we’re running this vintage post of J‘s.  With all this cold and snow, and hockey season approaching, read on! 

This post is inspired by a movie: Miracle, starring Kurt Russell (dreamy even in appalling 1979 plaid pants) is a movie about the 1980 US Olympic Hockey team.  Have you seen it?  If not, rent it! 

He's cute here, but keep reading!

Now I was not quite 10 years old in February of 1980 and I lived in a house of women.  We were not sports fans – at all.  We certainly were not fans of a brutal sport like hockey.  Tales of this famous team came to me in an odd fashion.  I had a boss back in the early 1990’s who was a small man with a HUGE personality.  I didn’t know much about him personally, but I did know that he played hockey in his spare time.  On his office wall, he had a big, framed picture of a hockey team.  I once asked him if that was his team.  His jaw dropped and he looked at me as if I had just asked him if a picture of Bob Marley was Jimmy Hendrix (this actually happened to me in college – I wasn’t very worldly in the 1990’s).  You know the look, the one where you are talking to someone and you say something and they wonder if you might be from another planet all together.  Or how you’ve lived this long with your head buried in the sand.  I used to get that look a lot. 

Suze prefers Kurt Russell in Bad Boy, Rather than Bad Haircut, Mode
Anyway, Brian The Boss said in a gentle voice suitable for calming skittish horses, “No, that’s the 1980 Olympic Hockey Team.  They beat the Russians…”  OK, so I might be giving away the ending of the movie here, but it’s kinda like the end of Titanic – you know going into it that the boat is gonna sink.

So, until Miracle came out, I didn’t know anything more about the 1980 US Olympic Hockey team.  But I’ve seen it several times recently.  In 1980 (big cold war days filled with troublesome happenings in the US including Iranian hostages, high gas prices and a bad economy) the Soviet hockey team hadn’t been beaten in 20 years and had spanked the US NHL All Star team regularly.  A bunch of 21-year-old kids from rival hockey towns worked harder to build a team than anybody thought was possible.  They had a goal and they wanted it badly.  They didn’t let the nay-sayers, and there were lots of them, get in their way.  They identified the strengths of their opponents and worked to take on those qualities themselves.  They ran drill after drill after drill and practiced play after play.  They stayed focused and fought to achieve their dream.

Does any of this seem familiar to you?  It does to me.  I want to be a best-selling author and I want it badly.  For most people this is an impossible dream.  But, I’m willing to work hard to get it.  I will write the stories I want to write.  I’ll become a marketing expert to push my books out there.  And a publishing expert, as well.  I’ll make my way down every avenue I can find to reach my dream.  I will ignore the nay-sayers and focus on my goals.  And when I beat my personal Soviets to join the Stephenie Meyers, Mary Pope Osbornes and Rick Riordans of the world, I will take a moment to enjoy my reflection in the gold medal achievement.   That’s today’s secret.

What’s your dream?