Posted in Methods, Resources, Writing

Plot Twist – Revisited

plot twist ideas

Plot Twist Ideas

What is a Plot Twist?

A plot twist is a literary device where the author subverts knowledge that a reader already knows or think they have figured out. It’s used to disrupt the flow of the story in a new direction. It’s also used to prevent stories from being predictable.

My two cents

In my writing, I don’t tend to think about plot twists from the start. At times, I don’t think about them at all. It just so happens that as I write, I suddenly think of a twist an include that in the novel. Usually, I think of this as something that just developed from my writing as opposed to purposely knowing I was going to put that plot twist in the story.

I believe that to purposely put in a plot twist, you have to know from the beginning that there is a plot twist. Or at least, had a vague idea of one, otherwise it would seem like the whole idea was shoe-horned in. There’s a fine line between coincidence (and it just happened to turn out that way) and forcing something to happen that shouldn’t. In those instances, the plot twist doesn’t seem natural.

Plot twists aren’t necessary, in my opinion, to make a good story. There might be surprising turn of events but I don’t consider that a plot twist specifically. I feel most plot twist are used in crime/ mystery fiction. Much like romance, there is a certain formula those genre novels follow. IMHO, plot twists are part of that formula.

Whether a novel needs a plot twist or not, is up to the author. Is there such thing as too many plot twists? I would say no but use it sparingly. As a reader, my heart can’t take too many roller coasters so, please be mindful. As an author, I’d use it sparingly when I intentionally use a plot twist.

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Posted in Gamernation News, NaNoWriMo, Writing

Developing that Idea – Method 1

You decided to participate in Camp NaNoWriMo. Awesome. You have an idea of what you’re going to write about. Cool. You’ve mulled it over for some time and you have a a vague story. Yet the question remains, how are you going to get that idea to blossom into 50k words for you? This is where I’ll put my two cents in.

This post will mainly focus on developing the idea for novel writing that can bleed into scripts, novellas, and short stories. To begin, I find it good practice to summarize  your idea into one sentence. I’ll use the following example throughout the post.

A prince must escapes his kingdom to save the world.

It’s not the greatest logline but it will have to do. Now, if this was my idea, the first question I’d ask myself is ‘how?’. How is this going to happen? This is where the three arc structure comes into play.

To summarize, it consists of the beginning, middle, and end. The beginning is where we introduce the character’s normal life before we introduce the big inciting moment. This moment is where the character realizes (somewhat) that their normal life won’t be the same. They are thrust into the new world (act two: the middle). Here they struggle, overcome obstacles, meet the ‘big bad’ that can be an actual enemy, a tough decision, bigger life changing event, etc., before leading up to the end (act three) where they find out the consequences of their decision and we get too see how it all plays out.

How does this look in practice? So in the first arc, I’d introduce the prince and his life. This is where I’ll show the readers his daily life, what he strives for, and what he fears.

A lot of developing the idea process will blend into other areas like character creation, world building, etc. It might seem overwhelming because there’s so much to do, but focus on the idea first. In my humble opinion, I believe that without a well developed idea, the writing can fall through.

So, in my notebook, I’d write down a few qualities of the prince. He’ll be responsible, eager, and stubborn. As mention before, the first arc introduces his world. We find out about the family and all that good stuff.

At some point, he discovers that a family member began a coup so, the youth prince must flee (It’s cliche but, for this purpose, it works). Perhaps during the escape, he learns some information. His aunt must obtain some relic in order to take the throne (or something). So, off the young prince goes with retainers or a bodyguard. That’s act one.

Act two, is the largest part of the story.  This is where the young prince tries to find more information on the relic. Where is it located/ hidden? He’ll probably have to consult with far away people and mystics for that information. During his travels, he has to hide his identity, learn how to survive, and dodge his aunt’s assassins and bounty hunters. All of these are obstacles.

To raise the stakes, the young prince learns that the relic only appears every ten years, on a certain day, under certain stars, and under a tree. That day is technically a week away and no one knows where this relic is. Eventually, they find the location and off they go. A race against time and enemies. You get the picture.

To simplify, what does your character want? How are they going to get it? What can you do to make it more difficult? Or another way. What does you character cherish? What can you do to take that away? Everyone wants something. Start with that and then rock the boat. Make that journey more difficult, think of obstacles.

Say for example you’re in the middle of the story and everything is going smoothly. No. It can’t. Murphy’s Law. Think of what can go wrong and make it happen.

Lastly, you don’t have to have everything planned out right at the beginning. I would suggest starting with the first act of introductions and rocking the boat. This is probably the first five or so chapters in the story. Then, starting thinking about that middle part. How can it get more complicated. Give your character some wins but keep the pressure on. The ending is where you resolve everything.

Ideas may come to mind as you write that are completely different from what you wrote initially. Embrace that. Not everything will go according to plan and that’s okay.

For the next post, I’ll go into starting with the ending and writing backwards. Thanks for reading.

Posted in NaNoWriMo, updates, Writing

NaNoWriMo – Skipping Scenes

Day three and 5k words down, 45k to go. For some reason, it’s getting harder and harder to write those 1,600 or so words each day. It probably has to do with the fact that I don’t usually write the same amount of words each day. I guess it doesn’t help that I’m still working on rewriting Crimson Queen through the month of November or that I’m updating my Wattpad story on a weekly basis. I seem to have put too much on my plate. What can I say? I’m an overachiever at times.

I almost want to count my word count of those stories but I won’t. Personally, I think that would be cheating on my part. It’s just this mentality that I have where all 50k words must be part of one story as oppose to other projects. It’s just my way of thinking. For better or worse, I’m going to keep doing this until I can’t anymore.

Today, however, I will say that I was surprised by my story. Let me explain. As I struggled to continue the story from where I stop yesterday, a different and unrelated scene came to my head. It had nothing to do with the main story. I still don’t know if I’ll include it in the final draft but I’m not worried about that. I just knew that my mind wasn’t as exhausted after a long work week as I thought it would be and proved to me that there were still some creative juices up there. I put these creative juices to good use.

Writing a story doesn’t have to be linear. It is okay to skip around or take a break from the main story. When a story becomes painful to write and pulling out air is the next stage, something has to change. I’ve had this happened to me many times. I’ve gotten so stressed out about continuing the story that I don’t give myself a chance to take a deep breath and step back. Today, however, it was different.

For the second half of my daily writing goal, I typed up an emotionally charged scene between my two main characters. My fingers flew across the keyboard and my wrists started to hurt but I didn’t stop. This scene was important to me and my characters. I had to put it on ‘paper’ before I forgot. While the story didn’t progress much, I got to try an extra seven hundred words just for writing an unplanned scene. The words just poured out of me and I didn’t care if it related to the main story or not. I was skipping scenes and that was fine.

If writing unplanned scenes is something that gets me to write and discover my characters and more of my plot then so be it because eventually, those scenes can link together to become a cohesive story.  Some scenes may not be used but at least I wrote something. I gave the writer and creator inside me an opportunity to create and step away from the story that had started to ‘bog’ me down.

It works with writer’s block too. You’re not sure how the story will progress so why not put your characters in another situation, in another scene, and see what happens? It doesn’t even have to be part of the story. Not really. What if they would have done something completely different at the beginning of the story? Where would they be now? How would the rest of the story work out? Not only do you get distance from the current story and give your mind a break, but it might just help get those creative juices flowing again.

You’re still writing. You’re using those characters and world. Nothing has changed. Not really. It almost feels like writing fanfiction. Almost.

In the end, different methods work for different people. One way may work better for one person than another. It’s all a matter of how you write. Will I be using these extra words towards my daily word count? Yes I will.

Posted in Methods, NaNoWriMo, Writing

Eve of NaNoWriMo

If someone were to ask me if I was ready for NaNoWriMo, I would say no. It doesn’t matter if this was my first time or ten times. I don’t think I would ever be ready to write 50,000 words in 30 days. I’ve done before in the past but it hasn’t been easy. My spare time goes to typing up the daily goal and if I’m lucky, I’ll have enough time in the day to relax before going to bed and getting ready for the next day and all the responsibilities that require my attention.

Thinking back to all my previous attempts of NaNoWriMo (including Camp NaNoWriMo), I have never really written a novel. Not really. I’ve written 50,000 words towards an idea that I really wanted to develop. It’s not a novel until I go in there and try to salvage whatever I can from it. Sometimes, I have to start from scratch. Even though I plan to write the second installation of the Half-Blood series, I won’t be writing a novel. In those 50,000 words, I’m going to try to write something that I can salvage at the end of it all.

While I have experience in writing 50k words in a month, there are some tips that I’ve come to learn that work for me.

  1. Carrying spare paper/notebook. 

I don’t like to limit myself to working on my daily goal only on a computer/laptop. When I get a few moments, I’d like to jot down a couple of sentences here and there. Personally, I like to think about the direction I want the story to go and imagine possible scenes in my head. If end up thinking of a really good scene, I write down a summary of the scene and the key points I want to include just so I won’t forget anything.

2. Time Frame

Choosing a time that I can write is very helpful because I am able to only focus on writing. I’ve never really had to turn my WiFi off but if I had to, I would find an online app that shuts off my internet access until I hit my daily goal. Most importantly, don’t let anyone interrupt your writing time. Once it happens, the ‘golden time’ is subject to change at a moment’s notice. This has happened to me before and I have fallen behind on multiple accounts. Catching up is brutal.

3. Notecards

There are times when I have no idea how the story is going to progress. Writing scenes on notecards have steered me away from writer’s block. I rather have a scene to write than to have nothing. Notecards give me a visual tool to let me rearrange the story as many times as I need without changing anything in the document.

4. Keep Writing

There have been times when I have had no motivation to write. I’ve had to force myself to write. Even if everything made no sense and nothing was coming out like I wanted it to, I kept writing. The goal is to write 50k words. The goal is not to have anything make sense. That comes later. It’s not something you need to worry about now.

5. No Editing

Say no to the voice in your head. Now is the time for creativitity not editing. It’s going to take a few days getting used to it. Even for me but it can be done.

Lastly, for anyone participating in NaNoWriMo, I wish you the best of luck. I’m sure going to need it.

Posted in Methods, NaNoWriMo, Writing

Writing A Sequel for NaNoWriMo

NaNoWriMo is just around the corner and I still haven’t gotten ready for it. I will say that I have decided to work on the second installation of the Half-Blood series simply because the second book needs to be written and I really want to go back to that world. Plus, it helps that I really enjoy making my character’s lives miserable and difficult.

Now, writing a book in a series can be tricky. One piece of advice I read long ago said that the second book needs to be able to stand alone. I took this as meaning that the book has to have its own plot and the story can still work even if someone hadn’t read the first book. K.M. Weiland has a fantastic article about how to write a sequel that’s better than the first.

One of the points the article makes is whether or not there is enough content for a second story. This also includes having new ideas so the second book is entirely different from the first. Without much content to go on or new ideas, writing can be difficult. I often come across this problem when I haven’t developed an idea well enough. Ultimately, that is what it is, an idea.

When I wrote the first book, I didn’t plan to write a series. However, as I revised the first draft and the second draft, and even the third draft, that is when I began to make the world deeper and richer with lore. I can’t really say how it all came together. All I can say is that when I thought of the ending to the series it made perfect sense. I won’t include any spoilers but I can say that I began to think of what needed to happen to get to that ending. As I developed this idea, new content sprung up. I knew I needed to leave some loose-ends in the first story.

Granted, having a story bible really helped out because that way, I could keep track of all the little tidbits of information that I could expand upon at a later time. It did take some planning on my part. I doubt I could add such complexity to the plot without planning it out first.

Another point the article makes: what are the consequences? Loose-ends are rarely tied in a perfect bow. Personally, I find a story more interesting if they are questions left, and as long as they are answered in the second book or down the line, that is fine by me. Since I left loose-ends in the first book and didn’t quite explain too much on something, it left me with the opportunity to expand on it in this book. Plus, thanks to the events of the first book, there are a lot of consequences and domino effects that I have to work with. The one thing I like to keep in mind is that an action has a reaction and that can be said for anything.

Lastly, let’s not forget character arcs. By the end of the first book, one of my main characters, Alastair, has gone through a change but that’s not the end of his character arc. Renelle, my other main characters, also undergo changes but it hasn’t come full circle just yet. Of course, I still have to do a lot to do for other character’s and their arcs.

However, when it has been all said and done, if the first book doesn’t get picked up then writing the second installment could be seen as a waste of time and effort. With this in mind, maybe writing another book is the better idea but even so, I feel that the Half-Blood series needs to be written. It’s begging to be told which is why I will continue to write the series even if it takes a while for the story to be picked up or even if it never does. Luckily for me, I have plenty of novel ideas I can work with.