Agile Writers is a writer’s club dedicated to helping the beginning writer create a first-draft novel in 6 months.  Greg Smith created the Agile Writer Method as a way of getting from a blank page to a full manuscript. it is based on the writings of experts in the field and years of interaction with writers of all skill levels.  It is the contention of Agile Writers that anyone who has a story to tell can complete a first-draft novel in 6 months using the Agile Writer Method.

"You don’t have to be a great gram­mar­ian or great speller to write a novel. You don’t have to have con­nec­tions in the writ­ing world. What you need to have is a pas­sion for your story idea and a plan to com­plete. You bring the pas­sion, we’ll help you with the plan."

-Greg Smith (2011)
Founder Agile Writers
Creator of the Agile Writer Method

Greg Smith @ Ravencon

UPDATE:

Greg will be presenting:

Friday: 3pm-4pm: “Writing Believable Villains“
Friday 5pm-7pm: “Novel in 6 Months“
Saturday: 11pm: “The Shrinking of American Heroes.”

Greg Smith will appear at Ravencon this April 25–27.  Science Fiction & Fantasy return to Richmond with RavenCon 2014, a week­end cel­e­brat­ing the gen­res of Science Fiction, Fantasy and Horror. (And as we’re play­ing the Edgar Allan Poe angle, we’re Mystery friendly, too!) Join our guests for panel dis­cus­sions and work­shops that can only hap­pen at RavenCon! Workshops, Gaming Room open 24/3, anever expand­ing list of GuestsCharity AuctionThe FuMPGroups and Organizations, lots of great stuff in theDealer’s RoomCon Suite, spon­ta­neous laugh­ter and gen­eral merriment.

Congratulations to Michele Smith who com­pleted her first draft: The Science Fiction “Rizon”. This is the 19th book to be com­pleted in the last 3 years and the sev­enth in 2013. We’re all very proud of Michele for all the hard work she’s done to get her book fin­ished. Congratulations Michele!

Agile Writers at JRW Conference

This annual three-day edu­ca­tional con­fer­ence for writ­ers fea­tures nation­ally and inter­na­tion­ally known authors and ses­sions with lit­er­ary agents. Part of the Virginia Literary Festival. At Greater Richmond Convention Center, 300 N. 5th St. For more infor­ma­tion, pric­ing, or to reg­is­ter, visit James River Writers.

Another Agile Novel Completed

Congratulations to Lavinia Moxley for com­plet­ing her first draft novel “The Hesitancy of the Moon.” This is the 18th first-draft com­pleted using the Agile Writer Method.

From time to time we invite local writ­ers and friends of Agile Writers to con­tribute to our site. Today’s col­umn comes to us from Grace Robinson who is work­ing on her soon-to-be-released fan­tasy novel “The Vanished Reindeer,” part one of the “The Light-Whisperers of Kalevala” tril­ogy. You can catch up with Grace on her blog at StorytellerGirl.

For the basics of plot struc­ture, I always learned “ris­ing action, cli­max, falling action.” What does that even mean?

I learned early on how to write a story with a plot (as opposed to a wan­der­ing nar­ra­tive or stream-of-conscious descrip­tions) mostly from read­ing good sto­ries with good plots. While I even­tu­ally fig­ured out what “ris­ing action,” “cli­max,” and “falling action” were, I never liked using those terms for my own writing.

In case any­one else finds them­selves in a sim­i­lar boat, maybe this illus­tra­tion will help: intro­duce the prob­lem, com­pli­cate the prob­lem, solve the problem.

For an exam­ple, I’m going to use Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings tril­ogy. Granted, this is an excep­tion­ally com­pli­cated story with a huge cast of characters—but this exam­ple of plot struc­ture holds true whether you’re writ­ing an epic fan­tasy series or a short story with only one major character.

1. Introduce the problem

The ini­tial prob­lem is keep­ing the Ring hid­den and get­ting it out of the Shire. Simple solution—travel by night, stay off the road, make it safely to Bree and meet Gandalf. End of prob­lem, right? The char­ac­ters think so, of course, but the reader (or movie viewer) knows bet­ter (espe­cially if they’ve sat down with the 1,000 page tome or the stack of DVDs. This won’t be a short adventure).

2. Complicate the problem

Lord of the Rings offers dozens of exam­ples of this “com­pli­cat­ing the prob­lem.” Gandalf isn’t wait­ing for them in Bree, friends are kid­napped or killed, Nazgul, orcs, and dark wiz­ards pur­sue them, the Ring becomes a near-impossible bur­den, and so forth. Even if your ini­tial prob­lem is some­thing as sim­ple as “boy goes to school with­out his lunch money,” com­pli­cat­ing the prob­lem is what gives the story its plot.

3. Solve the problem

Lord of the Rings is an almost over-the-top exam­ple of “falling action.” The story seems to end about three times, though each “con­clu­sion” wraps things up more neatly and gives the audi­ence a full sense of clo­sure. But as for “solv­ing the prob­lem,” it is a sim­ple act—tossing the Ring into the vol­cano. Problem solved, and all is well again (or will be shortly).

In this case, the solv­ing of the prob­lem matches the ini­tial prob­lem in its sim­plic­ity: keep the Ring hid­den from the bad guy and get it out of the Shire. The solu­tion accom­plishes this, in mir­ror sim­plic­ity: toss Ring into vol­cano. Bad guy can’t get it, and the Shire is safe. The only rea­son the “con­clu­sion” of the story seems to go on so long is because of all of the other char­ac­ters and plot threads (see “com­pli­cat­ing the prob­lem”) that need to be tied up.

On that note, make sure that all of the “com­pli­ca­tions” that are added to the ini­tial prob­lem actu­ally are solved, in one form or another. The ini­tial prob­lem should always be the main prob­lem, even if other com­pli­ca­tions take tem­po­rary front and cen­ter. For exam­ple, the Battle of Helm’s Deep is about Theoden and his peo­ple fight­ing to sur­vive the onslaught of Uruk-Hai—the Ring isn’t part of that par­tic­u­lar plot thread. And yet, it is—it’s because of the Ring and the ini­tial prob­lem that the Uruk-Hai are on their killing mis­sion to begin with.

So if you’re stuck on how to struc­ture your plot or you feel like the plot has got­ten out of hand with aim­less direc­tion, just apply the three-step for­mat to it: intro­duce the prob­lem, com­pli­cate the prob­lem, solve the prob­lem.  Happy writing!