What do you do with all those interesting and informative blog posts, or articles you find, want to read again, but haven’t got time right now? I think I may have the solution for you. [Read more…] about The Minimalists Guide to Storing Interesting Articles
I’ve participated in two writing challenges this week. I find it hard to do one usually, but for some reason my muse was with me this week. I don’t usually share my challenge responses on my own blog, but I thought what the hey, this week I would.
If you would like to be featured like this on my blog, drop me a line.
I first found ‘A Disturbed Girl’s Guide to Curing Boredom’ in DIVA, a magazine for lesbians. It had the tiniest of blurbs (as all their reviews do) about this little book with a rather intriguing title. I absolutely HAD to read it. So I did, and I was an instant fan. His trilogy is one of my favourites… EVER. So it had to make my ‘books that MADE me write‘ list, because it was just that good. [Read more…] about Interview with James Howell – Author of the Disturbed Girl Trilogy
If you are ever at a loose end, and you want some inspiration to write, then my tutor Esther Newton, has weekly writing challenges. You can write as much or as little as you like, and it needn’t take long. Her challenge last week, was to write a ‘Dark Tale’. This is my very quick scramble at a dark tale, let me know what you think.
She ran into my room complaining about the smell again.
“Mummy, Mummy, the bad doggy came again,” she said bouncing up and down on tippy toes clutching her tatty rabbit’s ear.
“It was under the bed this time.”
“Honey, I told you, we don’t have a dog.”
She jutted her bottom lip out and frowned at me with her crystal blue eyes. I bundled her up on to the bed snuggling into her tummy and blew raspberries.
“Eek, stop it, stop it!”
Several locks of her shiny black hair fell on my face. The stench of dog sellotaped itself to my skin. I coughed letting her go and sat bolt upright.
“What’s wrong?” Lala asked smiling and flashing her tummy at me.
But a growing unease had started to settle deep inside me. I had to admit, there had been a lingering smell of wet dog I’d been unable to get rid of for three days, and the cat had been behaving even stranger than normal.
Sometime in the afternoon Sarah bought Tommy over for a play date. The kids screeched playfully chasing each other around the livingroom, whilst Sarah and I sipped at coffees in the kitchen and gossiped.
“Thing is, Sar, it’s been three days, and she keeps saying it,” I slurped at the warm coffee, and rubbed my temple, “do you think I need to take her to a psychologist or something?”
“God, no. She’s a kid. Kids make shit up, Tommy’s best mate is an invisible Asian elf called Gertrude. You’ve got nothing to worry about.”
I nodded politely.
Three short sharp shrieks ricocheted into the kitchen, followed by a silence no parent wants to hear. Sarah dropped her coffee cup and ran.
“Tommy,” she yelped.
I watched the cup fall to the tiled floor and splinter, spilling brown liquid.
I took a slow measured breath, unsure if I wanted to see what was in the livingroom.
“It was the bad doggy,Mummy,” Lala said tears in her eyes.
She was smeared with blood, and her clothes ripped. Tommy lay semi conscious on the floor, chunks of fleshy skin hanging awkwardly off his leg.
“Jesus Christ,” I whispered, “I’ll call a ambulance.”
I ran back to the kitchen and picked up the phone. I noticed the cat shaking in the corner of the room, every inch of her fur standing to attention, rippling in time with her shakes.
What the hell is going on?
When I put Lala to bed that evening she was subdued, and clinging to her bunny.
“I’m sorry, Mummy, I didn’t mean to,”
“Mean to what?” I said tucking the covers under her chin, and kissing her forehead.
She shook her head and rolled over. I knew she was talking about Tommy. But I didn’t know why. It wasn’t possible for a toddler to do that kind of damage to a child’s leg.
The unease I’d felt early in the day felt like an anchor of worry. My whole body ached for an answer. Exhausted I climbed into bed and passed out clinging to the baby monitor.
Scratch. Scratch. Tap.
Scratch. Scratch. Tap.
I woke to an overwhelming stink of putrid wet dog clinging to the air.
Scratch. Scratch. Tap.
The sound of claws scratching across wooden floor boards rattled around my head.
My heart hammered. Fingers tingled. And a heavy knot clung to my throat.
I snuck as quickly and silently as I could to Lala’s room. My breath heavy. Fear throbbed through my limbs.
The door creaked as I pushed it open, breaking the oppressive silence.
Lala’s bed was empty.
Covers strewn across the mattress.
My chest felt tight. I couldn’t breathe. I desperately searched the room flitting my eyes to every corner.
I took a step into the room.
My toes squelched into something warm, furry and wet.
“Lala, come here now.”
A shuffle and scratch of claws came from under her bed.
Reluctantly I shifted my foot and peered at the furry heap on the floor.
I drew a sharp intake of air.
“Oh. My. God. The cat.”
I tore my eyes away, tears streaming down my face.
“Honey, its ok, just come out now.”
Another scratch and scuffle.
I puffed my breath out, and wiped the tears away. I knelt down next to the bed, every muscle screaming at me not to look underneath it.
I had to.
I needed to know.
I pulled the cover up.
The smell of dog was so overpowering I felt sick. The sound of heavy panting and the slathering of jowls filled my ears. Terror prickled at my chest.
It was definitely under there.
Slowly, I peered under the mattress.
It was looking back at me. The only part of her that was recognizable were her crystal blue eyes.
I am a planner, down to my core, and no more so then when planning my novel. I have been toying with trying to understand how much planning is too much, and it’s always a difficulty, particularly for someone who really does love all things planned, structured and organised!
I had been having issues understanding exactly how to structure my novel, how to ensure that it was structured correctly, whether the structure I was creating was even a ‘story structure’ you know – one of the ones you find in an actual book – a published one!
Anyway in amidst my writing strife, I recently discovered the seven-point plot structure, and a lecture by Dan Wells, a pretty successful writer, who has written and published several successful novels.
He talks through the seven-point plot structure in detail with examples of famous stories to make it ’real’. The summary is:
Hook – (HERE 2nd ) If you know your ending – your start is generally the opposite stance – if you end with someone in prison – then they need to start free.
Plot Turn 1 (HERE 4th) introduce conflict here, it’s the point that moves you from the hook to the midpoint
Pinch 1 (HERE 6th) Apply pressure, force the characters into action (often introduces the villain.
Midpoint (HERE 3rd ) this is the exact point in the story where your characters move from reaction, to action. Note it doesn’t have to be physically in the middle of the book.
Pinch 2 (HERE LAST) apply even more pressure – make the situation seem hopeless.
Plot Turn 2 (HERE 5th ) This moves you from midpoint to ending, its where you obtain the final piece of the puzzle in order to get to the end.
Resolution (START HERE) Everything leads to this point – make sure you know what your ending is.
To watch the whole lecture (which I strongly advocate) visit youtube here.
The reason I love this so much, is because it was simple, clear, and only 7 sentences, it gave me such a clear understanding of my story arc, that my head felt clear and able to pad out the subplots, character sheets and all the other faff that comes with planning a novel. Its clear and simple, and forces you to go back to basics – if you can’t write your story into this structure then there’s probably something fundamentally wrong with your novel.
Hope it helps – let me know what you think of it.