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Thursday, April 4, 2013

May the SWOT Be with You by Leslie Dow

May the SWOT be with you? Ok, I agree that is a pretty awful title but using SWOT to analyze characters and plots can move your story along and help you figure out tough plot problems. Never heard of SWOT analyses? I’m not all that surprised. SWOT stands for Strengths, Weakness, Opportunity and Threats. It’s a tool used by businesses to figure out the best strategy to move forward or get the business out of a jam. It’s a tool also used by people to figure out what they should do next, career-wise.

Simply put, you look at the internal realities and the external situations:
Are you strong where you need to be to win at the opportunity you have? Excellent!
Are you weak where your threats are greatest? Uh oh!
At least that’s what you do if you want to succeed in business. You make sure you are strong enough to meet your greatest threat and win your best opportunity.
What if you want to write a compelling character in an engaging story? Well, matching up a character’s greatest strength against a threat handily defeated by wielding that strength makes for a pretty uninteresting story. Nope, we want a heroine whose greatest weakness is matched against her enemy’s greatest strength. We want to watch her grow and struggle and strive to gain the internal guts and know-how to meet that threat. Now that sounds like fun! I want to read that one!
So lets look at an example we all know:
Luke Skywalker must trust himself (and his control of the Force) to defeat the Empire’s Deathstar.

*click on the blue box to enlarge

Ahhh! Now, it’s beginning to sound like a writing tool, right? Exactly!
We all know that our characters innate weaknesses and strengths drive the best plots. Really great stories track the arc of the characters’ greatest weaknesses as they play out against their adversary’s greatest strengths. We love to see heroes and heroines win against the greatest odds and the most terrible foes.
In SWOT Analysis for Writers, my two week workshop beginning April 15, we’ll investigate how to use this business tool to write stronger plots, concoct more dangerous threats and insert key weaknesses in our heroes and heroines. In week one, we’ll analyze characters with SWOT tools from stories we all know and love, and learn how to apply this fun and visual technique to known plots and characters. Then in week two, we’ll take your stories and characters and SWOT them around, producing stronger heroes and more compelling plots in the process.  
author Leslie Dow, PhD
Bio: Leslie Dow, PhD

My friends say I discovered DNA, cured cancer (all kinds) and then sequenced the Human Genome. They’re pleasantly deluded and like to have people buy them martinis in trendy bars. 
Actually, I help businesses make better stuff or wheedle moody software engineers (If you must..Leslie on LinkedIn). And I write, oh yeah, I do that, too. 
I am the current Workshop Coordinator and WebElf the for the RWA’s Fantasy, Futuristic and Paranormal chapter. I’m a past editor of the RWA’s Silicon Valley Chapter and have done some other stuff involving the web and newsletters. I am also the Director of the most amazing writer’s community in the known Universe: SavvyAuthors. You should join, really.  
I’m in the process of editing my first SOLD novel a category-length romance On the Wings of Love. to Entangled Publishing. YAY! I live on a small La Honda homestead in the Santa Cruz Mountains just up from the Silicon Valley where I am managed by 12 14 indignant chickens, 2 not-so-feral-supposed-to-be-outdoor kitties, 1 neurotic cattle dog, and a Nelson’s Albino Milksnake named Audrey Lou.

Connect with me on:

Join me for a fun and interesting two weeks

SWOT Analysis for Writers
hosted by FF&P
This 2 week course starts April 15th
Sign up HERE


Rechelle Owens, Author of Romantic Fiction said...

Thanks for sharing this strategy. I'd never heard of this process before, but can see how it would help any writer strengthen a WIP.

Leslie Dow said...

You're welcome! It's actually a pretty useful tool for any decision where you have to balance internal strengths and weaknesses against external ones. I've used it to work my way through plot problems and figure out new plots.

Lisa Kessler said...

OH I love it!!! :)

Sounds like an excellent workshop Leslie!!!

Thanks for presenting it!