7 Things to Do When You Want to Give Up (Instead of Giving Up)

 

 

 

 

 

By: Brian A. Klems | April 20, 2017

There are a lot of challenges and rewards to being an author, and one of the greatest (and sometimes brutal) challenges is getting published. I think we’ve all seen people magically picked up by publishers out of nowhere, but my experience is that they usually know someone in the business. For me, it was a slog that took more than ten years and hundreds of rejections from agents and editors.

Then, in the past two and a half years, I signed contracts for fourteen books with three different publishers. Eight of the books are out now, and the rest will be out shortly. When people think that because I started selling books in my twenties I must have somehow cheated to get ahead, I tell them my history: I started submitting to agents and editors when I was in middle school. I was already writing novels then, and despite having a growing readership and being highlighted by the Los Angeles Times at the age of 14, I was still up for years of constant rejection. That’s how hard of a business this is, and it shows that if you want to write, never give up.So, if you’ve been submitting and not getting anywhere, here are some suggestions of things you can do instead of giving up, and all these things can help you on your path to publication.

  1. Revise

One of the most important things I learned — and one of the things I used to resist most — is revising. If your book is being rejected, it might not be because it’s a “bad” book. It might just be it needs some revising, because all books do. For me, revising often means cutting back so that the prose moves smoothly. Don’t say something in a paragraph you can say in a sentence. It sometimes can also mean adding to a scene because its full meaning isn’t there yet. There are freelance editors out there (some of whom worked as professional editors for publishers beforehand) who will help you edit. This can be expensive, though, so there are also options of joining writers’ groups in person or online. You can also talk to people you know who are knowledgeable about your genre, as long as they’re also willing and able to give you good constructive criticism.

  1. Publish elsewhere

Even if you can’t get your book published (yet), that doesn’t mean you can’t publish elsewhere to build up your résumé. When I was in high school, I started writing for a local newspaper. I’d take these articles and send them to bigger places, showing them that I was a professional writer and could work for them, too. By doing this, I eventually worked my way up to writing for MTV, CNN, The Onion, Publishers Weekly and Booklist, among other places. Once agents and editors see that big-name places are willing to hire you, they pay more attention. (A lot of these places I got into initially by writing about manga for them — I have an interest in Japanese comics and they needed people to cover this. Your interests might be what you can sell, which is win-win.) But keep in mind I didn’t reach MTV overnight — I started out with that local paper and kept moving up. Blogging is also a way to potentially get your name out there. It doesn’t necessarily have the same oomph to publishers as a paying market, but if you get enough followers, publishers ought to take heed.

  1. Build a Platform

Publishers and agents often say they want to see a platform. In other words, they want to see you brand yourself and have followers. While working on your book and submitting, find good ways to get yourself known. Publishing elsewhere (see above) can be a useful move for this part, but it’s not limited to that. Some people also use social media to build their own platform by finding an audience there. Other people have gotten attention through important work that they do. This is quite limitless.

  1. Network

Book conventions are a great place to network, because there unfortunately is truth to “It’s not what you know, it’s who you know.” However, I couldn’t afford to travel and go to conventions, and I know many writers have this same issue. So almost all the networking I did was online, and LinkedIn was especially useful. I would ask someone to link with me, and if they did, I’d send a brief and polite message thanking them, telling them a little about myself (a sentence or two will due) and saying I’d be interested in networking. Don’t just make it about you — help them, too. A lot of times I would help publicize work of theirs I admired for one of the places I wrote for, so it’s mutually beneficial. The best business, I believe, comes from helping one another.

  1. Have More Than One Project

I was writing full-time for MTV, freelancing for other publications and submitting a YA novel through my agent . . . when I sold my first book, which wasn’t the YA one. It was actually a book on manga, based on my background reviewing, reporting, adapting and editing manga. Sometimes the things that get you in the door are not the things you expect. Have an open mind and have some fun!

  1. Remember You Are Not Alone

Sometimes after getting rejection letters, it helped to hear from other writers experiencing the same thing. I worked toward being an author every day for years, without break, and it was often exhausting and demoralizing. Believing in yourself doesn’t mean you think everything you write is perfect and you can do no wrong, but it means you know you can make this work. Rejection is not a sign that it will always be rejection. The writers who get published as the ones who don’t give up and who keep bettering themselves, not the ones who get rejection letters.

  1. Love Writing

Because being a professional author can be such a challenge, always remember the number one thing: you want to be a writer because you love writing. Now get out there and show them what you’ve got!

Brian Klems, is a contribution writer and author, to Writer’s Digest

 

Emotion vs. Feeling: How to Evoke More from Readers

By: Writer’s Digest, David Corbett, Award Winning Author and Guest Columnist, Author of The Art of Character

The difference between writing emotion and writing feeling is more one of degree than kind. Feeling is emotion that has been habituated and refined; it is understood and can be used deliberately. I know how I feel about this person and treat her accordingly. Emotion is more raw, unconsidered. It comes to us unbidden, regardless of how familiar it might be. Rage is an emotion. Contempt is a feeling.

Both emotion and feeling are essential not only in fiction but in nonfiction. However, given their unique qualities, rendering them on the page requires different techniques.  Both emotion and feeling are essential not only in fiction but in nonfiction. However, given their unique qualities, rendering them on the page requires different techniques.

To accomplish this, the POV character should:

  • Dig deeper: As with emotion, surprise is a key element. You need a starting point that seems unexpected, because nothing shuts off the reader like belaboring the obvious. Instead, seek a second- or third-level feeling in the scene.
  • Objectify the feeling: Find a physical analogy for it (e.g. She felt as though her shame had created a sunburn from within).
  • Compare the feeling: Measure it against other occasions when it has arisen. Is it worse this time? How? Why?
  • Evaluate the feeling: Is it right or wrong to feel this way? Proper or shameful? What would a more refined, stronger, wiser person feel?
  • Justify the feeling: Explore why this feeling is the only honest response for the character.
  • Examine the impact on identity: What does this feeling say about the character or the state of her life? Has she grown or regressed? Does she recognize the feeling as universal, or does it render her painfully alone?

Eliciting Emotion

Emotion on the page is created through action and relies on surprise for its effect. That surprise is ultimately generated by having the character express or exhibit an emotion not immediately apparent in the scene.

  • To create genuine emotion when crafting a scene, identify the most likely or obvious response your character might have, then ask: What other emotion might she be experiencing? Then ask it again—reach a “third-level emotion.” Have the character express or exhibit that. Through this use of the unexpected, the reader will experience a greater range of emotion, making the scene more vivid.
  • Surprise can also be generated through unforeseen reveals and/or reversals. This technique requires misdirection: creating a credible expectation that something other than what occurs will happen instead.

Types of misdirection include:

  • Misdirection through ambiguity: Any of several results might occur.
  • Misdirection through fallacy: Something creates a mistaken belief regarding what is happening or what it means.
  • Misdirection through sympathy: Intense focus on one character lures the reader into overlooking what another might do.
  • To ground a surprise in emotion you must develop a belief that some other emotional outcome—ideally, the opposite of the one you hope to evoke—is not only possible, but likely.

Exploring Feeling

Feeling requires introspection, which thus necessitates identification with the character and empathy for what she faces.  The goal is not to get readers to feel what the characters feel, per se, but to use the characters as a device to get readers to feel something on their own.

This means allowing characters to think about what they’re feeling, which accomplishes two things:

  • It makes the feelings both more concrete and more personal.
  • It creates time and space for readers to process their own feelings. If empathy for the character has been forged, this allows readers to ask themselves: Do I feel the same way? Do I feel differently?

Within such scenes, the point-of-view character:

  • registers and analyzes the emotional impact of what has happened
  • thinks through the logical import or meaning of what has happened
  • makes a plan for how to proceed

Putting Them Together: Writing Emotion and Feeling

A character changes through the emotions she experiences, the refinement of those emotions into feelings, and the evolution in self-awareness that this process allows. This gradual metamorphosis creates the story’s internal arc, providing the character an opportunity to move step-by-step from being at the mercy of her emotions to mastering her feelings. And through the use of surprise and introspection, you provide a means for the reader to traverse an arc of her own, expanding her emotional self-awareness.

Thank You, Sergeant Curran, Our Pen-Pal

Reblogged from A Teacher’s Reflections. Jennie teaches far more than Reading, Writing, and Arithmetic! She teaches compassion, empathy, and the caring for those who sacrifice to protect others from danger. Learning to say thank you with humility and gratefulness is part of the greater good of humanity. Thank you, Jennie. Visit Jennie’s blog at https://jenniefitzkee.com/

A Teacher's Reflections

“Thank you.”  Those are the most fundamental words, next to “please”, that shape children’s character.  It is far more than manners; saying the words is one thing, doing the words is another.

My class is thanking Sergeant Curran, stationed in Afghanistan.  We’re doing it the good, old fashioned way; writing letters and drawing pictures.  We are Pen-Pals!

For children, expressing their thoughts in words and drawings is age appropriate and very genuine.  That is exactly what we did for Curran.  After we wrote and decorated our big letter, we drew him individual pictures.

Children need to learn that kindness and thanks matter.  They need to learn about the big, wide world.  They need to learn about other people.  Curran is our Pen-Pal in the big, wide world.  When he was a little boy, his favorite book was Mr. Gumpy’s Outing, by John Burningham.  We love that book!  Curran’s dad…

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DR. SUESS

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An Actual Dr. Seuss Cartoon – 1941

This cartoon is amazing.  You know what history says don’t you?  “History is Bound to Repeat Itself, If Good Men and Women Do Nothing!”

***Remember this? Thousands of Jewish immigrants fleeing from Nazi concentration Camps in 1941 were denied entry in to America and they were returned to Germany where they were put to death in the Gas Chambers. Where is America in times like this – Voting for Hate-filled Promises? Do Really Believe in Democracy?  As a People, do we really believe in the Common Good for Humankind?  I think not.  We don’t even care about saving our planet! So, I guess worrying about the common good is a moot point. I asked myself,

“What does the human good mean?

The Common Good – Ethical Decision Making – Ethics Resources – Markkula Center for Applied Ethics . Commenting on the many economic and social problems that American society confronts, Newsweek columnist Robert J. Samuelson once wrote: “We face a choice between a society where people accept modest sacrifices for a common good or a more contentious society where group selfishly protect their own benefits.” Newsweek is not the only voice calling for a recognition of and commitment to the “common good.”

Appeals to the common good have also surfaced in discussions of business’ social responsibilities, discussions of environmental pollution, discussions of our lack of investment in education, and discussions of the problems of crime and poverty. Everywhere, it seems, social commentators are claiming that our most fundamental social problems grow out of a widespread pursuit of individual interests.

What exactly is “the common good”, and why has it come to have such a critical place in current discussions of problems in our society? The common good is a notion that originated over two thousand years ago in the writings of Plato, Aristotle, and Cicero. More recently, the contemporary ethicist, John Rawls, defined the common good as “certain general conditions that are…equally to everyone’s advantage”. The Catholic religious tradition, which has a long history of struggling to define and promote the common good, defines it as “the sum of those conditions of social life which allow social groups and their individual members relatively thorough and ready access to their own fulfillment.” The common good, then, consists primarily of having the social systems, institutions, and environments on which we all depend work in a manner that benefits all people. Examples of particular common goods or parts of the common good include an accessible and affordable public health care system, and effective system of public safety and security, peace among the nations of the world, a just legal and political system, and unpolluted natural environment, and a flourishing economic system. Because such systems, institutions, and environments have such a powerful impact on the well-being of members of a society, it is no surprise that virtually every social problem in one way or another is linked to how well these systems and institutions are functioning.  https://www.scu.edu/ethics/ethics-resources/ethical-decision-making/the-common-good/

Well, at least 45% of Americans do believe in the Common Good for Humankind!  So, I have hope…..still!

10 Tips For Proof-Reading and Editing!

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Proof-Reading and Editing Tips

These are very informative, yet simple and easy to do. Melissa writes that “I spend most of my work hours editing other people’s work and self-editing my own writing. In fact, I spend more time on self-editing than I do on writing. So, I thought I’d share a few of my favorite tips for self-editing.”

– Melissa Donavan, http://www.writingforward.com

1.Accept Favor Requests for Editing

When a friend, family member, or co-worker asks you to look at a draft, do it. Even if you’re busy, even if you don’t feel like it or have your own projects to write and edit, take it on. The more editing you do, the better you get at it, and that means you become better at editing your own work, too.

2. Know When to Turn Off Your Inner Editor

There’s a time and place for editing, and often, the first draft is not it. Some writers craft sentence by sentence, perfecting each paragraph before moving on to the next. If that works for you, great. But if you spend hours stuck on word choice or sentence structure and you can’t move forward with the project, turn off your inner editor, blind yourself to typos and grammar mistakes, ignore bad writing, and just let your fingers fly.

3. Make Sure You’re Wearing Your Editing Hat

When you edit, make sure editing is really what you’re doing. In other words, be aware that editing is not scouring the text for typos and stray punctuation marks. Editing is when we strengthen story, sentences, and paragraphs. Proofreading comes later. That’s not to say we don’t do a little proofing while editing or that we don’t do a little editing while proofing. I know I do. However, I always do a full revision focused on editing and another on proofreading. For more complex pieces, I do multiple edits and proofs.

4. Edit On-Screen and Track Changes

Many writers and editors swear by the printed page. But that’s a messy and inefficient way to edit. If you start editing on-screen, you’ll adjust to the new format and soon find it’s much easier than marking up print. If you’re making big revisions (as you should during editing) and you’re worried about losing the original text, use Microsoft Word’s feature, Track Changes, which does just what you’d expect — it tracks all the changes you make as you edit. Then you can go through and review every edit and accept or reject those changes individually or collectively later. This is also a great way to edit twice — once to make the changes and again to approve them.

5.If You’re Not Sure, Look it Up (and Know What You Don’t Know)

Your greatest wisdom as an editor is knowing what you don’t know. Having resources in your arsenal is one thing. Using them is something else entirely. Don’t be lazy! Remember that every time you look something up, you learn something new and expand your writing skills. Plus, the more you look things up, the less you’ll need to look them up in the future. Eventually, they become a natural part of your writing process.

6.Keep a Grammar Manual and Style Guide Handy

When you’re proofreading and editing, you need to be meticulous. Don’t cut corners. If you’re not sure about grammar, spelling, punctuation, or context, you need to be able to open up a grammar manual or a style guide, so make sure you have the right resources handy. Be vigilant, be correct, and use good judgment, keeping in mind that sometimes it’s best to bend the rules, but only if you know what the rules are and why you’re breaking them.

7. Run Spell-Check and Grammar-Check First

Before you do anything, run spell-check and use your word processing software’s grammar checking tool (if it has one). Automated checkers don’t catch everything, but they can catch a lot, and that means you’ll have more time and brain energy for manual editing. Also, use the find-and-replace feature, which allows you to quickly find or replace a single error multiple times. For example, many people are still in the habit of using a double space after a period. I always do a find-and-replace to replace all those double spaces with the modern standard: single spaces after every period or terminal punctuation mark.

8. Read Slowly and Out Loud

The most crucial aspect of proofreading and editing is reviewing every single word and examining the written work at the word, sentence, and paragraph levels. Plus, you should be able to assess every document or manuscript in its entirety to check for readability, organization, and flow. This means you’ll have to go over each piece numerous times. To separate yourself from the content so you can better evaluate the writing, read slowly and read out loud. You’ll catch a lot of minor mistakes and typos this way.

9. Listen for Wording and Rhythm

Editing involves more than checking for grammar, spelling, and punctuation. When you read the piece out loud, pay attention to the rhythm. Does it flow smoothly? Do the sentences alternate in length or are there a series of really short (or really long) sentences that have a droning rhythm? Break up some of those longer sentences and join some of the smaller sentences together to give the writing better rhythm and more musicality

10.Pay Attention to Formatting

Formatting is actually separate from editing. This involves things like font (size, face, and other formatting options, such as bold or italics), paragraph and line spacing, and indents. Chapter titles and subheadings, for example, should have the same font and spacing. Citations should be formatted with consistency (and preferably, adhering to a style guide). Keep an eye out for inconsistencies in this area.

BONUS TIP: Review to Perfection

I like to follow a five-step process for editing:

  1. Read the entire text.
  2. Second pass focuses on wording and readability.
  3. Third review focuses on editing for word choice and sentence structure.
  4. Fourth pass is proofreading (check for grammar, spelling, punctuation, and typos). This is where I read out loud, slowly.
  5. Final review and polish.

(I repeat step five until I can’t find anything to improve.)

 

Good Luck with Your Self-Editing!

Point of View

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I believe that in order to tell a story well, it depends most specifically on a point of view. What Point-of-View do you think meets your style of writing most often or does it all depend on the story you are writing? Today’s post includes excerpts from What’s the Story? Building Blocks for Fiction Writing, by Melissa Donovan, chapter six: “Narrative Point of View.”

(The terms story and narrative can be used interchangeably, meaning a sequence of events, real or fictional, that are conveyed through any medium ranging from prose to film. However, when we talk about narrative, we’re often referring to the structural nature or presentation of a story, the manner in which it’s told.)

Point of View in Storytelling

The narrator of a story is the in-world storyteller, the voice that imparts the story events to the audience. Narrative point of view, often called POV, determines the position of the narrator, relative to the story. Points of view include first person, second person, and third person.

If readers envision the events of a story as a movie playing in their minds, then the narrative point of view is best described as where the camera is sitting at any given time. In the case of first-person point of view, the camera is inside the narrator’s head; we see the story through their eyes. In limited third-person point of view, the camera sits on one character’s shoulder; that character is not telling us the story, but we’re close to their perspective of events. In omniscient third-person point of view, the camera is pulled back so it can capture everything in the story objectively.

First Person

In a first-person narrative, the narrator is a character within the story—often (but not always) an active participant. First-person point of view is easily identified by the narrator’s use of I or we. It’s often told from the point of view of the protagonist. The Catcher in the Rye is an example of a first-person narrative told from the protagonist’s perspective. However, first-person narrative can also be relayed by a secondary or tertiary character, such as when the narrator is a witness to the story events rather than an active participant. In the case of a story such as Heart of Darkness, the first-person narrator is relaying a story as told to him by someone else.

The first-person point of view provides ample opportunities to present a narrator with a distinct voice, which flavors the story’s tone, giving it personality and a subjective slant. For this reason, first-person narration can feel more intimate, as if the reader is in a close conversation with the storyteller. First person often feels as if we’re inside the narrator’s head. When executed well, this helps readers forge deep and lasting connections with the character and the story.

First person is ideal for stories that need to explore the narrator’s internal thoughts and emotions. However, first-person narrative comes with interesting limitations, such as when the narrator is not privy to what other characters are thinking, feeling, or doing. Because some stories require that readers know what other characters are thinking and doing, first-person narration is not always appropriate.

First-person narration is frequently used in all genres of fiction and is especially common in the nonfiction categories of memoir and autobiography.

Second Person

Second-person narratives use second-person personal pronouns (you) to refer to other characters or the reader. These stories often feel like the narrator is talking to the reader as if the reader is the main character in story. We tend to see second-person point of view used mostly in instructions (“After you dip the apples in caramel, set them on wax paper to harden.”). This point of view is rarely used in storytelling. Bright Lights, Big City is one of the rare novels written in second person. Here’s an excerpt:

You keep thinking that with practice you will eventually get the knack of enjoying superficial encounters, that you will stop looking for the universal solvent, stop grieving. You will learn to compound happiness out of small increments of mindless pleasure.

Third Person

Third-person point of view is the most common form of prose narrative because it offers the greatest flexibility with access to all characters and full view of the story world and all events taking place. Even limited third-person narratives offer broader access to the story’s full scope than a first-person narrative. Characters are referred to as he, she, and they. There is no I or you. The narrator is not a person but an entity.

Third-person narratives are categorized on two axes: subjective/objective and omniscient/limited.

Third-person subjective allows the narrator to describe characters’ thoughts and feelings using internal dialogue. Third-person objective does not have access to characters’ thoughts and feelings; it only offers an external view of the characters. Many narratives float in and out of subjective and objective, giving readers glimpses of the characters’ thoughts when it benefits the story and keeping the characters’ thoughts hidden when doing so serves the story.

A third-person omniscient narrative has full view of the story and characters at all times. The narrator knows everything in the story world but may choose which details to reveal to the reader. A third-person limited narrative only has full knowledge of one character and can only relay events that character is privy to.

Narrative point of view is an important consideration for any storyteller, because it helps orient readers in the story world by giving them a distinct perspective from which they observe the story events unfolding.

YOUR NOVEL BLUEPRINT, by author Karen Wiesner

 

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I found “Your Novel Blueprint” on Writer’s Digest,  it is a book by Karen Wiesner. It  is a very useful and very complete guide from start to finish.  I am posting the first couple of pages and then a link to her article (10 pages) and also her book  can also be purchased there.  Read the article and then see if it is for you. I loved it.

You can find Karen Wiesner on Writer’s Digest http://www.writersdigest.com/online-editor/your-novel-blueprint

Writing a novel and building a house are similar when you think about it. For instance, most builders or homeowners spend a lot of time dreaming about their ideal houses, but there comes a time when they have to wake up to the reality of building by analyzing what they expect from a house, and whether the plans they’ve selected will meet their needs. Architects argue that it’s better to build from the inside out.

This is where a home plan checklist comes in handy. This list assembles the key considerations to keep in mind when deciding on a plan, including what are called external monologues, relating primarily to the outside of a house and its environment, and internal (interior) monologues. (The word monologue, in building, refers to a single facet of overall composition on the inside or outside of a house, such as flooring material or landscaping aspects.) Writers spend a lot of time dreaming about their ideal story. Eventually they have to face reality and analyze whether or not the story will work. Authors, too, usually build from the inside out—in other words, they know what they want at the heart of their stories and they build around that.

This is where a Story Plan Checklist becomes essential, because it targets the key considerations necessary when building a cohesive story that readers will find unforgettable. The checklist has basic external and internal monologues.  Monologue, in writing, refers to a single facet of overall composition concerning the internal or external elements, such as conflict and motivation. Generally, these are composed individually in free-form summaries, but they need to develop and grow cohesively.

The Story Plan Checklist can ensure cohesion between character, setting and plot. This checklist connects all the dots between internal and external conflicts, and goals and motivations, thereby guaranteeing the cohesion all stories require. In its most simplified form, a Story Plan Checklist—which you can find an example of at writersdigest.com/article/first-draft-finish-novel—includes free-form summaries (or monologues) covering each of the following:

PART I: THE BASICS

  • Working Title
    •    Working Genre(s)
    •    Working Point-of-View Specification
    •    High-Concept Blurb
    •    Story Sparks
    •    Estimated Length of Book/Number of Sparks

PART II: EXTERNAL MONOLOGUES

  • Identifying the Main Character(s)
    •    Character Introductions
    •    Description (outside POV)
    •    Description (self POV)
    •    Occupational Skills
    •    Enhancement/Contrast
    •    Symbolic Element (character and/or plot-defining)
    •    Setting Descriptions

PART III: INTERNAL MONOLOGUES

  • Character Conflicts (internal)
    •    Evolving Goals and Motivations
    •    Plot Conflicts (external)

I call this list a Story Plan Checklist not only because of its correlation with a home plan checklist, but because if you haven’t considered each of these areas, written something solid about them and checked them off, your story may not be fully fleshed out and cohesive enough. Sooner or later, the basic structure will begin to fall apart.

While you’re in the beginning stages of forming a story plan, sit down and figure out some of the working details (which may change throughout the process).

TITLE AND GENRE SPECIFICATION

First, come up with a preliminary title. All you need here is something to reference the project. While you don’t want to lock in your genre too early (stories evolve in unpredictable ways), get started with genre specification. For now, list all the genres this story could fit into.

POV SPECIFICATION

Now, start thinking about what point of view you want to use for your book. It’s very important to start your Story Plan Checklist with this because the identities of your main characters will play a huge part in your characterization and, subsequently, each of the areas you’ll be summarizing on your checklist. Most stories spark with a character who may end up becoming your main character. Your best bet for deciding which character’s viewpoint to use: In any scene, stick to the view of the character with the most at stake—the one with the most to lose or gain.

HIGH-CONCEPT BLURB

The high-concept blurb is a tantalizing sentence—or a short paragraph with up to four sentences (one or two is ideal)—that sums up your entire story, as well as the conflicts, goals and motivations of the main character(s). It’s no easy task. Here’s a simplified explanation of what your sentence needs to contain:

A character (the who) wants a goal (the what) because he’s motivated (the why), but he faces conflict (the why not).

Or you can simply fill in the blanks—whichever works best for you:

(name of character) wants (goal to be achieved) because  (motivation for acting), but she faces  (conflict standing in the way).