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The Craft: Motivation Reaction Units

September 1, 2017 @ 8:00 am - 5:00 pm

6:00 – 7:30:  The Craft:  Motivation Reaction Units

Grab a cup of joe, maybe a plate from Agia Sophia’s enjoyable menu, sit back, and relax. Catch up with old friends. Make some new ones.  Then…

Last Friday we covered Chapter 1 of Dwight V. Swain’s Creating Characters:  How to Build Story People.  If you have not yet purchased it, please follow the link to the left and do so.  It’s only about $8 used, and $17 new.  The Kindle version is

Tonight, Scotty will be covering Motivation-Reaction Units, a vital component of bringing vibrant characters to life.

Motivation-Reaction Units, or MRUs, are a basic small-scale structure of fiction, on the level of sentences or paragraphs. They’re the micro-structure of the scene. You are already using MRUs, even if you never knew what they were called. They are everywhere in fiction. They help pace dialog and action, and are especially good with high-action, such as a fight scene. However without knowledge of how MRUs work, characters’ actions can become muddled, or seem just a bit off to readers.

Besides the handout, I’ll bring a few examples of how MRUs have been used in published works.

Homework: Please bring two copies of a single page you’ve been working on (double-spaced, etc). Your example should be of two or more characters interacting in some way that is not entirely dialog. That is, include plenty of action.

Side Trails:  We will also be reading short excerpts from two others books, but there’s no need for you to purchase them, as we’re only covering about 2% of either of them each week.  However, in case you’re wondering, they are:

The 101 Habits of Highly Successful Novelists:  Insider Secrets from Top Writers by Andrew McAleer

Writing Down the Bones:  Freeing the Writer Within by Natalie Goldberg

If you haven’t done so already, please purchase the latest version of The First 50 Pages:  Engage Agents, Editors, and Readers, and Set Up Your Novel for Success by Jeff Gerke, and bring it with you to tonight’s meeting.

Finally, if you took my copy of the Gotham Writer’s Workshop on Writing Fiction (yellow, with my name across the top), bring it back.

7:30 – 9:00:  Tre Critique

Tre Critique is  three-member team approach to more dynamic and informative critiques of our work.  By both giving and receiving two critiques each week, the quality of your writing will improve at a rapid pace and reach high quality in the shortest possible time.

Please bring two printed copies of your latest work using the following format:

• 12-pt Times New Roman or other commonly-used font (courier, bookman, garamond, calibri, etc.)

• Up to 6 pages or 1,500 words, whichever comes first.  Please include a short synopsis of the story up to the beginning of your selection.

• 1″ margins, double-spaced lines, and indented paragraphs (no additional lines after a paragraph).

Please number and staple your pages. If you have scene breaks, please show them with a number symbol, asterisk, or tildes centered on a line.

Also, please refrain from discussions during reading and critique periods.  If you’re not participating in the critique, feel free to hang out and write, but keep things “library” quiet until after all critiques are complete.

See you there!


September 1, 2017
8:00 am - 5:00 pm
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Agia Sophia
2902 West Colorado Avenue
Colorado Springs, CO 80904 United States