My mum is a vampire hunter

My mum was the last person I expected to save us. She’s just so timid and small. Who would have thought that she, of all people, was a vampire hunter?

What happens next?

I’ve always been a fan of unlikely heroes and it seems, from that introduction that this mum is the least likely vampire hunter ever.

  • How did you get into danger to start with?
  • How does mum save you?
  • What’s your reaction to being saved by your mum?
  • What happens next?

Do you ever find out…

  • How long has she been hunting vampires?
  • Why she hunt vampires?
  • How she kept this a secret from you?

So many questions raised by this prompt. I can’t wait to see what you make out of it. Drop a link back to this post so I can read your work.

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A Round Robin of Writer Blog Posts

Every now and then I like to publish a list of cool things to read on other people’s blogs. This is not quite one of those posts but there are links to other people’s blogs.

However, there are a few posts on those other blogs, that I have written along with other people’s [psts on similar topics. I did something sort of similar with 5 Writer Blogs you Should Definitely Read.

Author Platforms

Sometimes it seems Author Platforms is all I talk about. I promise this is not the case.

First up, for Author Buzz UKA Comprehensive Guide to Author Platforms really is very comprehensive. Hopefully, it is the most definitive explanation of Author Platforms that will ever be needed.

Other posts on author platforms worth a read:

How is your author platform going? Got any questions?

Scary Stories

I recently published an article titled “The thin line between scary and hilarious” on my own Author Buzz network blog. I took a look at how humour and horror were essentially the same things.

I don’t have a list of other writers blogs with scary stories on them. Maybe because I have not found many indie author blogs with scary stories on them. Other than The Legend of Spicer Cove by L. L. Winder, I got nothing.

Can you recommend an author blog with scary stories on it?

Author Earnings

Talking of scary stories, what most authors earn is scary. Scary low. Ever since Author Buzz published the “The Shocking Truth about Author Earnings“, it has been bothering me that we authors do not earn that much. Here are some other views on the subject.

 

 

What do you think about the state of author earnings?

A character I most regret killing off

As writers, we often form a close connection to our favourite characters. Sometimes though, these characters are destined by plot or by design to die.

As we said in the last prompt (Favourite line that you cut from a story) it is an often repeated truism that:

In writing, you must kill your darlings

That applies just as much to characters as it does to excessive prose.

For today’s platform prompt, tell us about a character you most regret killing off.

Why would I write about that?

I still hold that it is true that there is something wonderful about getting to see inside the editing process of a writer. Never more so than when talking about the characters you would have liked to have kept alive or that you regret killing off.

You never know what will hook a reader into buying a book but if you are willing to share some of your passion for your story, that passion can infect new readers.

We said of sharing favourite cut lines:

There is little or no downside to sharing much loved but ultimately cut moments from a work but plenty of potential upsides. If only because it gives you something to write about on your blog while you edit.

The same is true of sharing favourite characters that you finished off in some gruesome way.

Don’t make this one mistake

There is one mistake you can make when sharing your regret over the death of a character. One mistake you must never make.

That mistake is major plot spoilers. Do not post unmarked spoilers unless you want very unhappy fans.

Without any spoilers, which character do you wish you had not killed off?

Writer’s social and BBQ

Next month Thanet Creative Writers will be hosting a BBQ. The social event is open to anyone but particularly to writers, poets, and book enthusiasts.

This is an opportunity to relax, socialise with like minded people and grab a burger (or whatever floats your boat). You are all invited.

The BBQ will be held on the 22nd of July. That’s next month and a Saturday, in case you were wondering.

The first of what we hope will be an annual BBQ and social for writers, poets, and creatives to enjoy the sun, good food, and great company. (And anyone else who thinks that this would be great company to keep).

There will be an opportunity to donate towards the cost of the BBQ at the event but this is purely optional. We just want to show our fellow writers, poets, and creative friends a good time.

This family-friendly event is open to anyone who wants to come along. Bring your plus ones, bring your kids, bring your smiles.

Find out more by visiting our Facebook event page.

I was the chosen one but I said “no”

The trope of “the chosen one” is so common that I think we all know what it means. So what would happen if the chosen one took a long look at the call to heroism and then said “nope“?

That’s what this week’s Fiction Friday prompt is all about.

I was the chosen one but I said “no”

  • How did you know you were the chosen one?
  • What were you chosen to do?
  • Why did you say “no”?
  • What form did your refusal to be the chosen one take?
  • What happened as a result?

As always, we’d love to read what you write. If you link to this post, and your system supports sending pings or trackbacks, we will get notified and can come and read it.

The 8-Point Story Arc

Steps

So, you want to write an amazing story? This is how to write amazing stories using the 8-Point Story Arc.

I have to warn you if you read this article it may spoil a lot of “fun” movies for you because you will realise that the movie industry (especially in America) follows this pattern slavishly.

The 8 steps of the 8-Point Story Arc

Unsurprisingly the 8-Point Story Arc has 8 steps. Before we look at the steps in more detail, let’s list them.

Here they are:

  1. Stasis
  2. Trigger
  3. The quest
  4. Surprise
  5. Critical choice
  6. Climax
  7. Reversal
  8. Resolution

A quite guide to the 8-Point Story Arc

The chances are you already follow a similar pattern when writing short stories, or even planning chapters. If you are familiar with “The Hero’s Journey” or the three (or five) act structure yu will see instantly how the 8-Point Story Arc fits almost exactly with these ideas.

Stasis

This is the initial setup. The “how things are” of the world. By the end of the story, this may well have changed, been threatened, or have been disrupted and then restored. Exactly what happens to the initial world setup depends on the type of story you want to tell.

Trigger

In other story theory, this is called the “inciting incident”. Really it is just the thing that causes the story to happen.

In my story, Legend, the trigger happens a few paragraphs in when Malial’s family are kidnapped. You should go read Legend, I think you would like it.

The quest

This is the thing the hero or protagonist needs to go and do to solve whatever the trigger caused to happen. In a romance, this is to win the affection of a love interest. In a classic fantasy, it might be to go and drop the magic doodah in the special fire, or something. You get the picture.

The quest embodies the thing that the characters int he story want or need to do. It is the both the goal and the journey towards that goal. Without a quest, the characters would just be sitting around drinking tea and saying mean things about each other. I actually wrote a story like that once and a quest still popped up anyway.

Surprise

Sometimes called “the twist”, the surprise is something that the character or characters of the story did not see coming. In a good story, the audience should be supprised too.

The surprise is, perhaps, the hardest bit to get right. Too unexpected and it just seems like a “hand of god” moment. Too well telegraphed and it is not at all surprising.

The website changingminds.org has a guide to the 8-Point Story Arc. It says this about the surprise:

To work within the story, it should be plausible and make sense to the reader, at least in retrospect. Surprises should add to the story, increasing the involvement and ultimate pleasure of the reader. A poor surprise makes them feel disappointed and disillusioned.

Critical choice

This often, but not always grows out of the surprise. The critical choice may be an opportunity to give up on the quest or some other profound decision that will forever change the landscape of the story.

The critical choice should lead, logically (in retrospect), to the next surprise. In this way, the story can move between surprise and choice as often as make sense to you, the writer.

Climax

The climax is where those critical choices are building. In a romantic

In a romantic comedy, this is often a sudden and quite expected argument between the lead character and their opposite number. In a buddy movie, this is where the characters finally, and quite formulaically fall out. As I said before, this pattern is slavishly followed by western movie makers.

This should, if nothing else, be the moment of high drama. Unlike movie land, this climax should have been building for a while and be a logical extension of the choices. It should not be an artificial argument between brothers for the purpose of setting up a reversal.

For a different take on what the climax is for, check out the dailywritingtips.com 8-point arc article.

Reversal

In badly written TV and movies, this is where the rather forced argument is resolved by the big gesture.

This is where everything the hero has learned is put to use. The hero integrates the changes that have been building up and undergoes their final transformation into the person they were becoming.

The bullied child stands up for themselves. The coward finally does something brave. The evil uncle embraces the power of good and does the right thing.

The reversal sets up…

Resolution

This is where the story ends. The new stasis is created, the hero can go home. The prince marries the princess. they live happily ever after, or whatever.

The tensions of the story are resolved and the quest is laid to rest.

You get to write “the end” and as a reader, you feel satisfied (assuming the writer did a good job).

How to write a great story

For those of you that like to watch videos, here is a video presentation of the 8-Point Story Arc.

Over to you

Did you find that useful? Had you heard of the 8-Point Story Arc before? Do you, perhaps, use it in your writing or do you disagree with it entirely?

Let us know your thoughts int he comments section or come and chat with me over at the Author Buzz forums.

Hmm, we need a new idea

I am not always the fastest when it comes to realising something just in not working. I’m more of the “must try harder” school of thought.

That said, I can see that my big idea for the grand finish is not being run up too many flag poles for a salute.

I figured combining Reddit (which can be great for traffic) with the final vote was the best option. Reddit, I reasoned, allows anyone to sign up. We can all post our stuff and all vote for a winner.

Like I say from time to time:

I’m moving to theory. Everything works there.

Reddit, for all I think it is great for platform building is not a place you guys seem happy to play.

Maybe, if I had been paying a bit more attention, I might have figured this out sooner.

I am at a bit of a loss as to what to suggest for the final vote. There was so much great content written during the contest that it seems a shame not to have a vote for a winner.

The floor is open. Who would like to take the mic and make a suggestion?

This pen is too dangerous to use

For this week’s (slightly very late) Fiction Friday prompt we have a pen that is too dangerous to use.

For some reason, this prompt got caught in draft and I never hit publish. Sorry.

They say that the pen is mightier than the sword and in this case…

This pen is too dangerous to use

As always, we have some initial questions that come to mind for this prompt.

  • Why is this pen so dangerous?
  • How did you find out?
  • What happened?
  • Where did this pen come from?
  • What are you going to do now?

If you write to this prompt, we’d love to see what you make of it. Drop us a line so we can read your work.

Where are the winners, Matt?

You may well be asking, “where are the winners, Matt?” and with good reason. This is not the post you are looking for.

Back towards the start of this week, I promised to announce the winners for the last week of the writing competition. I have been reading your posts but as for trying o work out winners, well, I might have been more than usually distracted.

Sort of a lot going on

For starters, I have been thinking about non-linear storytelling. When I say “thinking about” I mean seriously working stuff out and pushing the boundaries of what is possible. In essence, I am writing a computer game that requires you to have free-form conversations with characters. That’s a lot of specialist AI. I should really give that a rest for a few days.

Also, a certain person lent me Shaman’s Crossing by Robin Hobb. If you thought Netflix ate up a lot of my time, that is nothing compared to what a good book can do. Blame Simon, for that one.

Also, and this is quite important, the Trustees of our charity voted last month to hold a summer BBQ and social for all writers, poets, readers, and arty types and people who like to hang out with writers, poets, and… You get the picture.

We’ve been working hard to make sure this is a great event. It turns out that it takes a lot more work than slapping up an event and hoping for the best. I’m quite excited about the BBQ now.

The BBQ is taking place on the 22nd of July and you are all invited.

At the same time, I have also been working on Author Buzz and getting things ready to start promoting it hard. If you have any of the following you should sign up (it is free and easy to do) and use your profile (and/or the directory) to let the world know about your thing:

  • A blog or website in any way related to writing (for example, your own).
  • A book coming out (or already out).
  • A club or group for readers or writers.
  • A regular literary event.
  • A bookshop. Bookshops are great.
  • An agency for writers.
  • Anything else writers or readers might find interesting.

A new plan

So my new plan is to use the time slot normally reserved for announcing the next contest (there are no more to announce) to announce the last winners that I pick. This gives you one more week to post your links to Reddit and vote for your favourite entry. Some of you should have 12 links to share.

I hope the small pause is not too disappointing and I promise the wait will be worth it.