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?

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.

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…

Plotting or Pantsing: What is best for me?

And so we come to the last theme of our competition. One last hurrah and then the big vote off. Back when I was thinking up this idea I thought that ending on a reflection about if planning or discovery writing was best was a great idea for platform building. You guys have taken things in an interesting direction and I have no idea what you will do with this one.

Competition Theme

This is the theme for this week. Closing date to have posted it online is midnight on Monday the 29th.

Plotting or Pantsing:
What is best for me?

You can write anything you want that fits that theme. As little or as much as you feel you need to. If you are new to this and joining us late welcome, thank you for joining us, please see week one’s post and the FAQ if you need more information.

Pantsing, for those that don’t know, is where you make up the story as you go and “fly by the seat of your pants”. The opposite is plotting, where you plan the plot out in advance. I used to be a pantser but I am more of a plotter these days.

How to win

There will still be a “best post” and “best comment” but as you might have realised by now, we no longer have a “most comments”. Instead, there will be a “most votes on Reddit” section. This week, and going forward for the last few weeks, the Reddit section will be a special one created for the competition. This is also where the grand, overall, winner will be chosen by you.

Sometime after this post goes live I will be picking out winners. I hope you guys have written something great for me to read (I’ve seen some of them so I know that you have).

How Author Buzz UK is helping writers

This post is all about a new project called Author Buzz UK it can be found at authorbuzz.co.uk and is designed to help writers, bookshops, authors, publishers, and agents connect with readers.

Author Buzz UK was designed to help authors create a solid platform without any more technical skill than is required to sign up for a free account. A fully customised Author Buzz account should definitely become part of your growing author platform.

All of this goodness is offered for free to anyone and all you need to get started is an easy to set up profile. Once you are set up with your profile you will have access to the following resources. If you have a wordpress.com account then you can log right in with that and start enjoying your profile right away.

Talking about running your own blogs, I already have a writer blog set up. The Matthew D. Brown (author) blog is where I post my stories as a serial. You should get over there and give them a read. If you subscribe to the blog you can get an update when I publish new story entries.

Later, as the admin team continue to expand the site’s capability, there will be even more great features open to you. These features are planned but are still being tested and improved.

  • Agents will be able to maintain a profile for their authors
  • Authors will be able to maintain a list of their books which readers can review and, quite importantly, purchase from major retailers.
  • Readers will be able to connect their account to GoodReads and show off the books they have read.
  • Read more about the vision for Author Buzz UK.

It has to be said that, as of writing this article, things are still being set up at Author Buzz. So there will be ongoing changes and improvements. Crucially, this is the stage of development where your input could radically alter the finished product. If your company or your needs as a writer are not being met anywhere else, then your input could help shape Author Buzz UK into exactly what you need.

I would highly recommend that anyone who writes, publishes, or promotes those that do, sign up for a free account and become a beta tester while your opinion has the power to shape the site.

The admin and development staff at Author Buzz are dedicated to the principles of transparency and open creativity. As such they have a dedicated development blog where they talk about both the success and failures that they encounter as they work towards bringing this dream to life. I know this because I am the lead developer in the team.

Thanet Creative Writers already have our own group on Author Buzz. Connect with us there if Facebook is not your thing.

Get on over to Author Buzz UK and create a free account.

The thing I love most about Thanet Creative Writers

This is, if I am honest, the one I have been looking forward to the most. Finding out what about Thanet creative writers (the blog, the group, or the charity) that resonates best with you guys.

Competition Theme

This is the theme for this week. Closing date to have posted it online is midnight on Monday the 22nd.

The thing I love most about
Thanet Creative Writers

You can write anything you want that fits that theme. As little or as much as you feel you need to. If you are new to this and joining us late welcome, thank you for joining us, please see week one’s post and the FAQ if you need more information.

I am particularly interested to see if the fiction writers can turn this into a fiction prompt or if you will write a more tranditional blog post. This posts image was actully taken during a Tea and Chat meeting. You can use it for your post if you want.

How to win

There will still be a “best post” and “best comment” but as you might have realised by now, we no longer have a “most comments”. Instead, there will be a “most votes on Reddit” section. This week, and going forward for the last few weeks, the Reddit section will be a special one created for the competition. This is also where the grand, overall, winner will be chosen by you.

Competition thoughts

There should have been a new entry for this week. I know it is late. There should have been one (or is it two) sets of winners announced this week too.

I’m going to get to that in just a moment. Before I do, would you mind if I rambled on about what I have been so caught up in this last few weeks?

Brilliant, thank you.

A few weeks ago I started working on a new article. One of the big, well-researched ones that I have not written for a while. This one was about the author of the Martian. In the article, I focused on how Andy Wier used his platform to get a book and film deal (in the same week). One of the things that Wier did was publish his work as a serial.

One of the things that Wier did was publish his work as a serial. Serial writing seemed like a lot of fun and something I wanted to try.

As a typical over-thinker, I started thinking not about the easiest way to do this but the best way. In no time at all, I had cooked up a whole batch of ideas. One of those ideas was a project I had been sitting on for years and years – Author Buzz. I had owned authorbuzz.co.uk for a long time and at some point I let it expire.

My chosen domain name was available again so I registered it. But not before I suggested to Thanet Creative Writers that we start a portal for all writers. Both the idea of serial writing and the portal received a positive response and so I went ahead.

chimpanzee_seated_at_typewriter

What I did was create an entire WordPress network (like wordpress.com but just for authors). I then had to start writing and fixing and integrating and coding and theming like a wizard. I am not a wizard. This is much, much harder than I thought it would be.

This is an actual photograph of how I felt while I was doing this.

As a result, I have not kept up with everything. For that, I apologise. It was not fair to keep you guys hanging.

If it is okay with everyone, what I will do is pause the competition for this week. Which adds an extra week for the deadline of our last theme. During the week I will announce our winners and on Monday I will announce the winners of last week (and this week, now). I will also set the next theme ready to publish. In case you want to get writing, here was the sneak peek of what the themes will be. I had planned all twelve before we even started.

We have two themes and the grand vote off to go and I want to give you wonderful writers my full attention while it takes place.

I also want to shout out to Jess Joy for reminding me just how far from the straight and narrow I have wandered lately. I also want to thank not just Jess but AUTHORity, Artimis Blake, Kentish Rambler, L. L. Winder, Neil, and Anstey for your wonderful contributions. Reading your work has been a pleasure and a joy. I truly hope that all of you continue to write after the competition has ended.

Once more, please forgive this interruption. We will get back on track next week. That’s a promise.

Wanted: Articles

When we first set up this blog it was with the intention that it be written by a range of different members. While I am fine with writing (it is something I love to do) I would love to see some other takes on topics.

That’s why we have a contact form sections encouraging you to become a contributor.

For those of you with a blog, a guest post (the odd post for another blog) can help gain you new readers and gives the blog you write for a bit of variety.

This is a list of topics that we would love to publish an article about. If you think you can do one of these justice, then we would love to hear from you.

  • How to choose first person or third
  • Writing with the present tense
  • Tactical use of offensive language
  • How to approach publishers
  • What is the three act structure and should I use it?
  • How to write compelling female characters
  • Using smell as an emotive part of description
  • How to get started with poetry
  • Chapter sizes – how long or short should chapter be?
  • Getting started with self-publishing
  • Techniques for writing dialogue
  • How to write lively dialogue
  • Does the monomyth really apply?
  • How to write for the young adult market
  • How to make a Time Travel fresh again
  • When and how to use gore in horror
  • Time and place – using real locations in fiction
  • An introduction to the editing process
  • What are serial rights and why do they matter?
  • Overcoming writer’s block

That’s not a hard and fast list of topics. If you have a good idea then please come forward with it.

As and when these topics are covered by me or by you, I will link them so you know that there is already at least one article on the subject. Even if there is already an article on the subject I would bet that you have something new to say on that subject.

We need you to write for us.

What mistake do I make most with writing?

Which mistakes do I make? Which mistakes don’t I make! Seriously, you could probably compile my mistakes into a definitive “A to Z of how not to write”.

Okay, maybe that is something of an exaggeration. But I have made more than my fair share of howlers in my time. More than a few stories have ended up like today’s picture – derailed and broken.

Mistakes are the theme for this week’s competition as we enter week ten (or twelve).

Competition Theme

This is the theme for this week. Closing date to have posted it online is midnight on Monday the 8th.

What mistake do I make most with writing?

You can write anything you want that fits that theme. As little or as much as you feel you need to. If you are new to this and joining us late welcome, thank you for joining us, please see week one’s post and the FAQ if you need more information.

How to win

There will still be a “best post” and “best comment” but as you might have realised by now, we no longer have a “most comments”. Instead, there will be a “most votes on Reddit” section. You can vote on your choice of winner in a special Reddit created for the competition. I strongly encourage you to get in there and cast some votes. Those votes select not only the user’s choice for this week but they will count towards the grand winner in a few week’s time.

Just like the last few weeks, to get “best post” you need to have linked to this post (unless you write something which is unequivocally orders of magnitude better than all the rest combined).

I am in love with a woman who does not exist

Today’s writing prompt for Fiction Friday has love with a big twist.

I am in love with a woman
who does not exist

  • Who is this person?
  • How can they be in love with someone who does not exist?
  • What is happening here?
  • Why is it happening?
  • What happens next?

We would love to read your stories that you write based on this prompt. Please do drop us a link, if you write something. Wishing you many happy hours with The Muse.