Sam Barnett

husband of one, father of two, cyborg, likely cognitive disinhibitionist, technical dude, developing writer enjoying the process


A Pigment of Your Imagination Challenge

Pick a color.

Use it in a flash piece.

Less that 1000 words.

This will be due on the 11th of October and we can discuss it on the 18th.

Also, we are meeting in West Port on the 18th as well.


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Butcher Your Own Cliche

Pick a cliche.

Butcher it to the best of your ability in less than 1000 words.

Post it privately or publicly here before the 13th of September so we can play the game the 20th.

Edit: A little help suggested by Carolyn:

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Take Off Your Pants

I have read Libby Hawker‘s book on outlining. In short, I mostly like it. It gives a great framework to start with when approaching the daunting task of outlining a novel. I was introduced to this book by an online discussion in a group within Scribophile, an online writing and critiquing site. Several of our group are using this book as a guide to plotting, and discussion on the group’s forum brought my attention to it.

I enjoyed her idea that a character flaw driven story arc drives the external arc.  That external arc then assists in building a plot that is kept in check by theme, defined as an underlying and unifying concept. My interpretation of her outlining methodology is potentially flawed and subject to change as I work through the process and hopefully grow more enlightened.

As I read through this book, she walked me step by step through her process with clear descriptions and examples of what she is trying to help me accomplish at any given step. All through the steps leading up to and working through outlining and plotting were clear to me, and I enjoyed the character arc driven insight the book had to offer. This book got more difficult to follow once she was beyond the plotting stage and headed into what she referred to as “Pacing”.

This breaks down for me in an area where I admit I have been struggling with lately – bridging the gap from plot points/tent pole moments to a series of scenes during the outlining. I have been struggling within this part of my own writing journey, so I am hesitant to label this a flaw of the book. This could and is quite likely a result of my own shortcomings to get through this bit of the process.  In this discussion of creating beats from plot points and then scenes from these beats, she discusses the idea of inverted triangles which I am not able to visualize based on her descriptions. After discussing with my writing partner, we think “funnel” might be closer to what the author intended, but I can’t be sure. I hope to gain clarity in the practical application of her ideas as I follow her instructions.

Though not without its flaws, I am glad I purchased this book and hope to learn more as I work through and apply her outlining method to a story idea I am currently working on. While I apply this process in actual practice, I might find I come to understand the areas that were not clear to me. This is, at least, my goal.

As I started working through this process, I found I was flipping back and forth through this book to find the order and explanation of each step. To help myself with this, I put together a template to guide me. I doubt I will use it without the book handy as a companion but find it helpful to have a condensed set of steps to guide me though the outline. I offer my crude templates below.

One is a blank template, and one has a brief guide to the process order with some hint text in the fields. I imagine the blank one being printed out and filled in while flipping through the book, though I am using the guided one in word. I am over writing the hint text as I work though each field.





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The First 20 Hours

Every time I start learning about some specific component or approach to some aspect of writing a novel, I inevitably come across some as of yet unknown and yet to be studied component or approach. Then I go off to study that new approach and find many more concepts and methodologies I am ignorant of. I find myself  feeling like I may never know enough to actually get there.  I get lost in this cycle of blog and craft book reading in a never ending quest to find the secret, this elusive secret that everyone but I must know that will make writing and finishing a novel mere child’s play.

I am trying to move from this self perception of myself as a grossly incompetent hack to at least someone capable of faking it as an actual writer, but it is not easy. It is possible we all feel that way. It is quite possible I may not be alone in my feelings of inadequacy that lead to nightmares of all those around me waking up and realizing I am a total fraud and screaming for my removal from their very presence.

This video, even though it was not aimed at writers in particular, gave me hope that I might get there if I just keep at it.  I just need to practice. I just need to keep writing.

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Group June Flash Challenge

June’s challenge has been decided by the group.

< 1000 words

Must include a fight scene.

Must NOT include any dialogue.


This piece should be posted to the site by the end of the day of June 7th.


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Private Category For Sharing of News and Ideas

We have added this category to the site for ease in communicating less formally with other members of the group.

The other posts in this category will be private. Who else really wants to see that nonsense?

If you have an idea or news for the group that is not for public consumption you can post it here.

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Brandon Sanderson 321 Lecture

I have been working my way through Brandon Sanderson’s 321 Lectures shared on youtube from his class at BYU.

I have been thoroughly enjoying them and thought I would share with the group.

Brandon Sanderson 321 Lecture Playlist on youtube

I think this started with the 2013 summer class when a student recorded the lectures for some other project he was working on. The syllabus for that year’s class can be found here. It doesn’t quite line up with the newer series of videos, but I thought it was nice to have.

Writing About Dragons 2013 Summer Class

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Basic Guidelines on Giving and Receiving Critique

Basic Guidelines on Critiquing:

Critiques are not editing. Don’t focus on missing words or grammar issues unless they are so obvious they interrupt your reading.

Preferably, critiques will include reader feedback such as:
Likes: the reader’s favorite thing about the chapter or what interested them the most
Characters: a statement about the characters in the chapter (if it is a new character, what did the reader think about the person’s personality/actions; if it is a character from a previous chapter, were the actions believable/consistent/developing)
Setting: was there enough/too much, was it understandable/clear/vivid
Plot: did the story move forward/was it paced well
Dialogue: did it make sense/did it develop a character or move the plot
Description: did they match the tone of the story/help tell the story
Hook: was there something that makes you want to start the next chapter
Repeating little errors: was there a repeat common error that interfered with the flow of reading
Guidelines on Receiving Critiques:

Ask for clarification if there is a comment you don’t understand
Don’t defend the writing. No matter how negative the critique is, don’t say it isn’t right or try to explain what the writing meant. 
Writers are not required to follow the critique advice. It’s not wrong to ignore bad advice. It is just feedback from one specific reader. 
If critiques are done in person, it is important to note that groups can fixate on small issues that enjoyment readers will ignore.
*There is about a 2 minute portion where the sound cuts out, it restarts again and I think the information after the silence is important so I thought you should know it ends.

*Note – Louise originally posted this in a page. I moved it to a post to make it easier to find in search and navigation during some reorganization of the blog.

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Dan Wells and the 7 Point Plot Structure Videos

A resource I find myself leaning on when planning out a draft is the 7 Point Plot Structure presented in a youtube series of Dan Wells. He works through the 7 points of plot structure discussing what they are and in what order he approaches them. I particularly like the section where he creates multiple plot arcs and weaves them together.

The series can be found here: Dan Wells and the 7 Point Plot Structure

The Plot Points

  • Hook – Hero has a sad and boring life
  • Plot Turn 1 – Hero becomes a role.
  • Pinch 1 – A bad guy attacks.
  • Midpoint – Hero learns the truth about something, and swears to defeat the villain.
  • Pinch 2 – Companions fall to the villain, and the hero is left alone.
  • Plot Turn 2 – Facing villain, hero discovers the power is in him
  • Resolution – Hero defeats villain.

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Deborah Chester Scene References

I follow Deborah Chester’s blog, and generally enjoy her writing advice.

She has a 7 post blog series on scene parts as of the time of this writing.

I am posting links back to her blog articles here for future reference as I find myself referencing them often.


I noticed she also had some older posts on scenes. I am including links to those as well.

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