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 Methods, NaNoWriMo, Writing

Can I really do it and How?

Writing a novel, much less 50,000 words in a month, can be a bit daunting. Every year/ NaNoWriMo month I ask myself I can really do it. I ask if I’m ready to commit to a project and to all those hours of writing. Every time, I ask myself “why not?”. Why don’t I just try? What do I have to loose?

Upon making that decision, I tend to start panicking because it means I have to prepare and block off hours of my time to even write. Then I find that I’m going about it the wrong way. While my goal may be 50k words, someone else might be 30k or 40k. It all depends. There was a time where I knew it was going to be a busy week so, I gave myself a different goal.

Campnanowrimo allows you to change your overall goal for the event. So, if you believe that you can only write 35k words then, it’s possible to track that progress. There’s also the option to have a writing buddy in case you want a partner in crime.

Once you decide you’re really going to do it, the next question is “how?”. How are you going to complete set set goal for NaNoWriMo? The answer depends on the person and commitment. Plus, each project is different. You could write an anthology, biography, poems, etc.

First, it’s important to figure out your end goal. How many words are you going to write in the month? Mine will be 50k words. My project will be to finish up the rest of a novel that I’m working on at the moment. I believe that 50k words should be enough to complete the story. That might change and 50k words may not be enough but, for right now, that’s what I have set. Set a manageable goal.

Next, what will you be using? I don’t plan on using any software. The story is posted on Wattpad and I’l be using their site to work on the story. I won’t be posting every day as I finish my daily goal but there is where I’ll have all the chapters. If I’m ever away from my phone or a computer, I don’t mind using pen and paper to write. I don’t find it a chore to type up what I hand wrote.

Third, while this doesn’t seem like a big deal, I feel like I should mention it. Check out the website for the event. CampNaNoWriMo has a resources and pep talks during the event to help writers. They have a twitter account with word sprints and topic starters last time I checked. Plus, when you input your daily goal, the website helps you track your progress and let’s you know how many words you must write to reach your goal in time.

Lastly, I won’t be going into too much detail on how to actually plan (or not) your project for April. That post is for another day. What I will say is that Camp NaNowriMo is about opportunity. It challenges you. Maybe it’s your first time participating maybe it’s your fifth, but overall, we all together to write and I really think that’s amazing.

Thanks for reading. Until next time.

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 NaNoWriMo, Writing

The Passive Voice

As I continue to work on my NaNoWriMo book, I came to the realization that I use a lot of passive words. “He was talking” and “It was snowing” are some of the examples that I mean by passive words. Instead, I should be using “He talked” and “It snowed”. While it’s true that I’m working on a rewrite and there is still time to edit afterwards, I still don’t want to fall into a habit of using “was walking” in my writing.

A good advice for NaNoWriMo is to kill your inner editor and just write. It’s good advice but I’m not going to following that. I’ve found myself going back into my writing and looking for any signs of passive voice. Normally, I would never do this because I don’t have to time to edit. I need to write. However, this year, I’m a bit more confident in my ability to type up 50k words which is the only reason why I’m doing this. Words are coming easier this time around.

So far, I’ve hit my daily word count and have written more than the recommended daily word count amount to hit 50k words. Now, I know all about the passive voice and avoiding it but I still find myself using those types of words/ sentences. It mostly has to deal with the fact that I’m just trying to get everything down and I’m not thinking about how it’s been written.

To be honest, I feel like a part of me is trying to cut down on the amount of editing I have to do when I finish writing the book. So, it could be one or the other or both. Now, when I do edit, I’m not exactly looking for every instances of passive voice. That comes later. At the moment, I’m focused on “was looking” and “was walking” type of words because I feel like those are the ones that stick like a sore thumb.

I also found that rereading what I wrote the day before helps me, not only get inspiration for the day, but also with editing. I read the words aloud and when it doesn’t sound right and if it doesn’t make sense, I go in and make the writing a bit clearer. If I do find passive words in there, I change that as well. However, I don’t edit all the time. If there is something I need to double check or research, I leave a comment to myself. I really try to avoid using the internet because one click and then I’m wasting my time ‘researching’ instead of writing.

Most importantly, I do know myself and the habits, whether good or bad, that I have. So, I try to manage the bad habits like ‘researching’ when I should be writing. So far, I think I have enough self control to only change the passive words that I find. I haven’t convinced myself yet that I need to go back and change a few scenes but that can change. I’ll be vigilante.