Chapter 14 of 24 from Judy Blume

Creating Plot Structure - Part 1

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Don’t be intimidated by the thought of writing an entire book. Judy wants to help you tackle a book scene by scene, beginning with how to find your starting point.

Topics include: Start When Something New Happens • Think One Scene at a Time • Surprises are Everything • Establish Character Before Major Plot Twist

Don’t be intimidated by the thought of writing an entire book. Judy wants to help you tackle a book scene by scene, beginning with how to find your starting point.

Topics include: Start When Something New Happens • Think One Scene at a Time • Surprises are Everything • Establish Character Before Major Plot Twist

Judy Blume

Judy Blume Teaches Writing

In 24 lessons, Judy Blume will show you how to develop vibrant characters and hook your readers.

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Write timeless stories

Judy Blume broke the rules. Her refreshingly honest children’s books were banned by hundreds of libraries—and loved by generations of readers, who bought 85 million copies of classics like Are You There God? It’s Me, Margaret and Superfudge. In her first online class, the award-winning author teaches you how to invent vivid characters, write realistic dialogue, and turn your experiences into stories people will treasure.

Watch, listen, and learn as Judy teaches her first-ever writing class.

A downloadable workbook accompanies the class with lesson recaps, assignments, and supplemental material.

Upload videos to get feedback from the class. Judy will also critique select student work.

Reviews

4.7
Students give MasterClass an average rating of 4.7 out of 5 stars.

I feel like the luckiest human! Being invited to sit with Judy Blume while she tells me all about being a writer? YES PLEASE!!! :)

This class touched my heart. Judy Blume is one of my heroes.

A wonderful masterclass.....informative, endearing, honest.....most enjoyable and transformative in ways of looking at “writers”......permission to write from inner feelings and imagination in realistic settings. Thank you :)

Inspiring from Lesson 1 - I can't wait to start writing again.

Comments

Colleen P.

This lesson was really good for me. I am a dyed in the wool punster. I have read the books about outlining and thought that's what I should do, but I just can't make my mind work that way. In fact, I took apart a story I had written previously with the idea of laying it out in outline form and ended up re-writing a bunch and the outline never got past the first line. Thank you, thank you, thank you. I'll just keep writing and let what comes out be my surprise.

Tracee G.

I think part of this is about being a pantser and recognizing the Divine who gives so many ideas. We all have talent but there are some things that come more naturally to some than others. I'm a pantser and we get such rude and negative thoughts that say, "we" abandon ideas or never finish because pantser simply fly. So there's your proof and so many other pantser out there. Just fly without some road map, or structure, focus on the scene-ry instead. It's hard to convey for her because it just happens so naturally.

Kate C.

So happy to hear about Judy's "messy" writing process. I'm a messy writer, too. Future scenes come to me out of order, and usually that scene or event is extremely important to the story. At that point, I don't know what happened to get my main character to that crucial scene. So I make notes about the scene and go back to where I am in the book currently. When I finally come to where that scene takes place, it's enormously satisfying, a huge milestone in writing the book.

Mia S.

"It's important that the reader really care and be involved with the character before you drop some major something on them, so that they really care what happens. We get to know her, see her go out for a drink with her friend, know what her plans are for the future, we meet her family - we're invested in her when she gets on that plane Even on the plane, we're invested in the book that she's reading and the way that she sees that her life, except for her talent, made her different than her seatmate who was probably her age and was married with two little children. When she goes down, and there really was that dancer who did get on that plane, it's just devastating to know - we knew her, we were invested. A much simpler story, one point of view - we have to know her. We have to know who she is before something happens to her. Maybe that's part of the plot - get to know the character, and then put her in a terrible situation."

Mia S.

"Normally, you've got this scene and something happens in the scene that turns, changes, illuminates, and you go from there probably into narrative, and that's how you pace. Then there'll be another scene and eventually all these scenes add up to a story with a plot, a beginning, middle, and end. When I approach the writing of a book - if I could advise anybody - you can't think of this as a book, because that's so scary an idea; a book, 200, 400 pages, I'll never be able to do that. So I never let myself think that way, I think only one scene at a time, one conversation at a time. If scenes occur to me out of order - and they will - I'll write them in the notebook. 'Oh wait, I'm not ready for this, but let me write it down,' so I don't lose it, I can come back to it if I want to. Often a scene like that will lead you on your way, that's very good - you get a scene somewhere in the middle that comes into your head, you write it down somewhere. There's a lot of editing that goes on - your own, because you realize that. Often I am a messy writer - and that's OK. My editor once saw my office with papers thrown all over the floor, and the rest of my house was very neat, and he said to me, 'I see now, this is where you really let go.' This is what I mean by, you come into that little room, and you're free - free to throw your papers on the floor, to go from this scene to that scene, wherever you need to go - to experiment, try it all out, and that's how you get through the journey. For me, surprises are everything. A good day is when my character surprises me. Not everyone writes this way - we call it 'the writing to find out.' Over the course of the book, in finding out, there are surprises and this is welcome. I don't like surprises in real life, but in writing I like it. Does it really happen? People say to me, 'What do you mean, surprises? You're the one in control.' Did I know that she was going to say she needs a lawyer? I don't think so - that's one of those surprise moments. I tend not to evaluate whether there should be a twist or turn here or there, I just tend to write it, and I don't know if it's working until I see it in writing."

Mia S.

"The idea of the word 'plot' makes me very nervous. But I realize that plot is really telling a story, and I tell a story. Maybe the story that I tell is the plot. But if I'm ever asked about how do I come to do a plot, there's something about the word that just intimidates, makes me so uncomfortable. I would tell you, if you asked, that plot is my weak point; and yet I look at the books and realize, 'I prefer to think of [plot] as telling a story - plot for me is a mystery. I start a book on the day something different happens in that character's life. 'Then Again Maybe I Won't,' no idea what I was doing; I sat down and wrote and wrote - there was a terrible problem with the beginning, because it was overdone. We didn't need to know these things. It wasn't the day something different happened in his life, it was just about his life. I had a good editor say to me, 'I think maybe this isn't necessary here,and where you want to start is here.' That of course was the day that something different happened in Tony's life. That's how I approach it now. That journey to get to the end of the book - that journey the character is taking - that must be the plot of the book. But I prefer to think of it as the story that I'm telling, and how do you get from here to here? That's the story. There are certain books that I do keep very careful track of what's going on, very complicated - many characters, different family groups, lots of things happening. Someone other than me could say, 'That's the plot, there it is.' But for me it's the story I'm telling. A scene is where something happens - a scene takes place somewhere, it's between more than one character - two, three, four, however many - and then that scene ends and that's something that you're going to figure out yourself, where that scene ends. You might write and write and keep writing it, and you'll see that, 'Uh oh, that scene really ended here.' That scene is over, and then change pace - you change pace and you're somewhere else. I've always wanted to write a book that was a series of scenes - without the narrative that connects scenes, in most cases. It didn't work for me, I gave up on it very quickly - everything got too complicated."

Crista L.

I began with a very short, cute story. After this lesson, I expanded it and now feel there are plot twists, more characters and a higher-reading level book on my hands! If I'm now writing a book for Young Adults instead of my original idea of writing a children's book, then I have Judy to blame or thank. :)

Tam L.

P.S. Was anyone else stumped by the question in the ASSIGNMENTS about: "You've already created your character's emotional timeline for your novel idea." I don't remember Judy talking about this and I looked through our past assignments for it, to no avail. I get the overall idea, but can anyone point me to further explanation of this Emotional Timeline exercise? I'd like to put it into practice for my current novel project. Cheers!

Tam L.

Hi Classmates! This was an encouraging lesson for me. I love the 'magic' of a character or storyline surprising me! It was encouraging hearing that coming from Judy. And I do write in scenes. This practice came from my early writing days as a drama teacher, and my first writings being scripts. Godspeed to you all! See you tomorrow.

June P.

I'm glad that Judy discussed the fact that she has a problem with plot! This is my struggle as well, I find that my plot keeps changing every time I write. I'm trying to keep the thread the same but it isn't easy!

Transcript

So the idea of the word, plot, makes me very nervous. Plot, no, I think. No, I can't do plot. Don't ask me questions about plot, ever. But I realize that plot is really telling a story, and I tell a story. So maybe the story that I tell is the plot. But if I'm ever asked, you know, about how do I come to do a plot, I can't-- there's something about the word that just intimidates, that makes me so uncomfortable, because I would tell you, if you asked, that plot is my weak point. And yet I look at the books, and I realize, well, I've written all these books, they probably do have a plot, which I prefer to think of as telling a story. So plot for me is a mystery. I start a book on the day something different happens in that character's life. When I was writing Then Again, Maybe I Won't, and, again, had no idea what I was doing, because I started that book the day after I sent Margaret to a publisher, having no idea if it would be accepted or not. So I sat down and I started to write Then Again, Maybe I Won't, and I wrote, and I wrote, and I wrote. There was a terrible problem with the beginning, because it was overdone. We didn't need to know these things. It wasn't the day something different happened in his life. It was just about his life. It was all those things that I said, you write in your notebook. And I had a good editor say to me, I think maybe, you know, this isn't necessary here, and where you want to start is here. And that, of course, was the day that something different happened in Tony's life. And so that's how I approach it now, on the day that something different happens. And that journey, to get to the end of the book, that journey that the character is taking to get to the end of the book, that must be the plot of the book. But I prefer to think of it as the story that I'm telling. And how do you get from here to here? That's the story. Now there are certain books that I've written that I do keep very careful track of what's going on. And In The Unlikely Event was very complicated, many characters, different family groups, lots of things happening. I did keep track. I had like a track notebook, OK. This is what's happening here and here and here. And someone other than me could say, well, that's the plot. There it is. But for me it's the story I'm telling. A scene is where something happens. So, you know, a scene takes place somewhere, and it's between more than one character, 2, 3, 4, however many. And then that scene ends, and that's something that you're going to figure out yourself where that scene ends. Again, you might write and write and write and keep writing it, and you'll see that, uh-oh, no, that scene really ended here. That scene is over, and then change pace. You change pace, and you're somewhere else. I've always wanted to write a book that was a series of scenes. ...