I’ve been a member of Sisters in Crime for nearly three years. It’s a national organization with
many local chapters. Their mission is “to promote the advancement, recognition, and
professional development of women crime writers.” They’ve been so useful, generous, and
helpful in my ‘learning to write’ effort. It’s difficult to cover all the benefits of membership.
Recently, I took advantage of the classes that are available to me as a member of the ‘Guppies’.
[Read — little fishes learning to swim in a big pond.] I had avoided classes there, I think,
because they are all held through group emails. No video presentations, or ‘live’ classes. That did
make it easy to read all the material as the rest of life allowed. And it was plenty to read because
every class member emails a portion of their work. So, you get to learn from the instructor’s
responses, not just to your work, but to all your class members as well.
Over two weeks, we looked at the Story Arc. This was a topic I’d read, attended webinars on,
and watched YouTubes about before. But what was so nice was the reiteration of plot versus
story, the overall story arc versus the major character arcs, and some great references to read on
these topics. I found an overview of potential story arcs in a book from the 90s: Ronald B
Tobias’s, 20 Master Plots: And How to Build Them. An easy read, but with great examples and a
premise that there are basically a limited number of story arcs out there. And that simplified
things a lot. It also helped me as I begin a new story to be more intentional in character creation.
To plan out the interplay of exterior plot with the movement of major characters through their
I’m not quite sure where I got this next reference, because I put a library hold on it weeks ago.
But right as I finished the Guppy class, this library book was available: K.M. Weiland’s Creating
Character Arcs: The Masterful Author’s Guide to Uniting Story Structure, Plot, and Character
Development. I’m only 15% into it, and already have two pages of notes. I love how the
synchronicity of things just shows up sometimes.


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