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.

The Final Contest: The Big Vote

Well, we are finally here. You have written, comments, and voted you way through twelve weeks of platform building themes designed to prompt you into establishing your authorial platform. Well done.

This week instead of writing an entry you will be picking a winner. Of course, I will be reading the last entries and picking winners. This last batch of winners will include three editor picks that did not win in their week but deserve a conceptual prize anyway.

chimpanzee_seated_at_typewriterThat (image to your right) is an artists impression of me trying to figure out which amazing post deserves to be a winner.

Before I get to giving you the details for the big vote, a few words about building on what you have created.

How to make the most of it

Over the last twelve weeks, you have written drawn an audience. Some blogs take months to get to that level of audience. Some of you seem to have a full year’s worth of audience building under your belt in just three months. That is very impressive and you should make the most of it.

For example, this blog took two months before anyone besides me even properly recognised its existence. We launched last year to no fan fair at all and came up the hard way. For those of you that took part in even some of the contest, you have a head start. A huge head start.

Make the most of it – keep writing posts. Build that platform and when your first book comes out enjoy being able to tell loyal readers all about it.

If you prefer to write to prompts we have two entire categories of prompts, which I try to put something out for each week.

  1. The Platform Builder Prompt
  2. The weekly story prompt

There might not be a winner announced each week for these but the prize was always the thing that you created not what I gave out.

You may also want to consider making a platform at Author Buzz UK. It is a website that I am helping to build (based on WordPress) specifically for authors to build a presence. It is based on a lot of the platform building theory that I have been talking about here. The forums will be a good place to chat with fellow writers once we start to pick up steam.

Whatever you do, keep writing. Make amazing art.

The big vote

The big vote has two parts to it.

  1. Sharing as many of your entries as you can
  2. Voting on the entries that have been shared

The big vote takes place at /r/ThanetWinners2017 and will run until at least one items gets a solid lead or we all get fed up with waiting. The deadline is, erm, sometime randomly decided after Monday the 5th of June so share soon, vote often and may the best post win.

Getting your fans to go vote for you is allowed. Anyone can vote for the grand winner. Anyone at all.

Also, any theme that you wrote for outside of the deadline time can be entered. So if you missed a week, you still get a chance to shine.

Best of luck to you all. You wonderful writers, you.

I think I might be a god

You have reached a startling conclusion – maybe you are a god.

This week’s Fiction Friday prompt is what do you do if you think you are a god?

I think I might be a god

Each week I post a prompt I also try and post some of the obvious questions that the prompt raises. Here are the ones that this one raises for me.

  • When did you first suspect you were a god
  • What makes you think that you are a deity?
  • What sort of god or goddess are you?
  • Do you have god powers and if so what?
  • Are you a metaphorical god?

If you write to this prompt, please link back to this post so we can read your creation. I cannot wait to see what you come up with.

Week 11: Winners

Eleven down, one to go. The second to last batch of winners is about to be announced.

Quite indulgently we asked you to write about what you loved most about Thanet Creative Writers. If I am honest, the thought “how can I ask people to blog about us” was how I ended up with “wouldn’t it be cool if we had a 12-week writing competition”. And the rest, as they say, was history.

Honourable mentions

Before we carry on, I’d like to give an honourable mention to Author Buzz. While not part of the competition there is a good post on that site all about us at Thanet Creative Writers. I know because I wrote it. Now on to the important folks – you wonderful writers.

Likewise, I’d like to shout out to L. L. Winder. Who might like to add Wedding anniversaries to the list of things that stop her writing. Congratulations guys. I wish you many more years of happiness together.

Top Three Posts.

In no particular order of sexiness, here are the three front runners for this week. Of course, that could be because there only were three entries that I found but even so…

I hope each and every one of those posts finds their way to /r/ThanetWinners2017 for the big vote off at the end of next week. (Hint, go and post them there you amazing writers)

Talking about the big vote off, if you still want to write for a theme that has passed you have one last chance to win by entering it into the big vote off. Just saying…

Winner of the best post

Here we are once again. Three great posts and I have to pick just one. Honestly, this is so hard. This section of the post has been blank for an hour now.

In the end, I had to pick one and it was the one I realised that I had liked so much that I had left a comment saying how easy it was to read.

This week’s winner, by a nose, is: It’s in the small print by Jess Joy.

Winner of the best comment

For sheer novelty value, I am going to award Benj the best comment award.

On the Night of the Hats post, his comment was not only interesting but in verse. That’s gotta count for something, right. Anyway, I liked it and so I am awarding the prize to Benj.

Winner of the most votes

As this week, the Reddit vote was a dead heat between our best post winner (Jess) and Niel, I think it is fair to award the people’s choice award to Night of the Hats, Thanet Love.

Closing thoughts

This week coming up is the last of the 12 themes. I challenge you all to write your best ever entry. Consider the gauntlet thrown down.

Over to you…