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 Resources, Writing

Synopsis: Tricks? Tips?

In a dusty drawer, there lives a story untouched for a very long time.

Well, sort of.

As the projects that I want to work accumulate, I go back to my more “essential” novels. What exactly does this mean? For starters, as I wasn’t able to complete writing The Vampire Prince returns to High School last month, I’ll still continue to write it in my free time. However, in my free “free” I’ve started working on the synopsis for a certain novel I’ve called Clan of Ash.

There’s some history to this story. I’ve actually sent this novel out to agents but without any success. I took a break from it and I’ve gone through it before, checking it for various things. Though the title of this post may suggest it, I’m not planning on sending out this novel right now. However, I’m using the process of writing a synopsis to help me out.

How does this work? Well, a synopsis is basically a summary of your novel that showcases the most important details to an agent. So, what I have done (and doing) is to read over my novel and summarize each chapter. As I’ve summarized, I have realized the details that have struck out to me (those being the most important).

Reading through each chapter and summarizing it, puts into perspective some story details that need to change or that are working correctly. This method makes me a step back and look at the bigger picture.

Not only that, once I’ve finished summarizing all the chapters, I can take a look and pick out what details I want to put into the future synopsis for this novel. Of course, the length of that synopsis depends on the agent’s submission guidelines. However, even if it’s only a page or two at most, you have all the details already in front of you. You can pick and choose what you need.

So far, it has worked for me. Writing a novel synopsis can be so stressful and overwhelming. However, I’ve found that this method works for me. It’s less stressful and I don’t feel so pressured or overwhelmed. So, when I’m ready (aka the novel) is ready to be sent out and I need a synopsis, I’ll know where to look. Most of that job is already completed.

Posted in Writing

Cause and Effect

Cause and Effect Blog postMany years I go, I heard a really good piece of advice. Or maybe I read it somewhere but I can’t remember the exact details. However, I will say that that advice stuck with me even now. It floats around in my head and pops up when I’m writing or reading over someone else’s work.

As I write this, I suddenly remembered that I read about the advice while researching how to write action.  That piece of advice is this “cause and effect”. Something happens before something else. Or another way to say it: there’s an action and then the consequences.

Take a look at the sentence that follows:

“Ron stumbled back as Henry punched him.”

The punch should come first and then the stumbling. At least, that is how I see it. It wouldn’t make much sense that someone would drown before falling into the water either or someone falling before tripping down some stairs.

Action isn’t the only thing that I use this advice for. I also use this when I writing in general. It’s how I create tension and conflict. If a character says something (cause) others will react differently (effect). It’s a fact that there are consequences for everything. Some might be mild, but others aren’t. I find it that this keeps my characters human. It means that they have real emotions and they react like human beings. They aren’t just filling up space. They have purpose.

Plus, I find it helpful to make a list of all the actions and their consequences so that I may, not only remember all the tiny details, but also so that I can bring that into the story along the way. Maybe a character holds a grudge over what was said. I have to remember what was said first in order to further develop that. That list of action and consequences aka cause and effect also helps with plotting. While it might not help for all instances, it can help for some.

For example, the protagonist is part of a special suit unit and they have a job somewhere. They jump out of a transport. Said protagonist suffers a malfunction and is seperated from the group. Now, we have consequences. If the protagonist can’t reboot her/his suit fast enough, they’ll be a pancake. Drama. Tension.

This is just but one example. Another I can think of is when it doesn’t involve actual writing instead. How can that be? The Cause and Effect list that I mentioned can be used before any writing begins.

Maybe you have a story in mind but you don’t know where to start. Write

I’ll use one of my stories for this. It’s has low sci-fi western vibe to it.

My protagonist is in a desert with enough provisions for himself. He comes across another human being, hurt and starving. Now, he has to ask himself  ‘do I help and deplete my resources faster or do I continue on my way?’ Not only is this a great situation to showcase the protagonist’s personality but it builds up to the potential consequences of running low on food. There’s also perhaps the mental trauma of leaving someone to die. In the end, my protagonist does help and now I have a lot of things to work with as the consequences unfold.

So, remember: action and then consequence. Cause and effect.

Posted in Resources, Writing

Unnecessary Characters – Are they necessary?

 

unnecessary characters
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One of the things I try to look out for in my writing is unnecessary characters. Sure, as writers, we must populate the story but when is it too much? How can we identify these unnecessary characters?

I like to use the sexy lamp test. This test doesn’t apply only to the relevance of a female character, it applies to other characters as well. If you can replace a character with someone else – or a lamp in this case – they aren’t necessary. The test can also be applied to your main characters.

If, for some reason, you really want a certain character in the story because they bring something unique then, maybe the character needs more work. Flesh them out. Every character has some sort of motivation that gets them through the day and if after all that, the character still doesn’t work then, cut them. You can always recycle them for later.

 

 

Posted in Resources, Writing

Food Timeline

food history

Now that I’m feeling better, I can put this put. It’s a neat image that I found on Pinterest. The website gives you a timeline on Food, where specific food began, and the start recipes with certain food items. This is a great tool if, like me, gets obsessed over learning if people ate ice-cream during a certain period of time or not.