LEARN FROM THE MASTERS


LEARN FROM THE MASTERS

Lynnette Jalufka

 

I am a visual learner. I need to see how to do something before I can do it. Just telling me doesn’t work. Then the task is accomplished in the hardest and clumsiest way possible. The same goes for writing. Reading examples from books helps my stories more than someone telling me how to do a technique. In fact, I’m currently rereading a novel to remind myself how to put emotion in a scene.

This month has been about plot twists. J. K. Rowling’s Harry Potter series is full of them. I still get chills when I think about the one towards the end of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows. I love the way Rowling inserts clues beforehand.

Revisit your favorite books that you remember being shocked or surprised at the plot twist. When did it occur? What did you need to know before the twist happened? Were there hints? Doing this enables you to apply the same techniques in your own stories. No wonder the first rule of writing is “read, read, read.”

 

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The Venturi Carnival Company


This week I just wanted to share a short story I submitted to the Your Story contest at http://www.writersdigest.com.  The prompt was a picture of a large, concrete clown head laying in a deserted lot amidst leaves and dust.

 

The Venturi Carnival Company

Adam Huddleston

The Venturi Carnival Company rolled into Bentonville in the early hours of August 5 and left two weeks later in an overnight barrage of fire and destruction.  The first day was spent erecting the many rides and sideshows that Venturi was famous for.  By seven o’clock that evening, the fun was about to begin.  A long line of townsfolk stretched from the ticket booth to the back reaches of the dirt parking lot.  By all accounts, the first few days were enjoyed by all.  Everyone seemed enamored with the circus-like atmosphere and very few complaints were heard from the patrons.

Then, four days after opening night, a metal beam on the Tilt-A-Whirl bent.  Six visitors were thrown into the hot, autumn night.  All suffered serious injuries.  One remained in a coma for over a month.  The ride was shut down temporarily, but by the weekend, it was rocking and rolling again.

Visitors were mugged on three separate occasions, two of them at gunpoint.  One woman accused a carnival barker of sexually assaulting her behind the famed Haunted Mansion.  Carnival security merely winked at the crimes.  A belief began to grow among the townsfolk that they were actually behind the atrocities.

By the carnival’s second week, a manhunt was underway for Arturo Venturi, the great-grandson of the carnival’s founder and head of the current iteration of the gaming/ride spectacular.  Rumors spread that he had been seen at several locations about town; most of them bars or brothels.  A posse was established and the search began.  He was quickly discovered half-drunk at a table in Jimmie’s, an establishment that prided itself on both booze and women.  Venturi was captured but escaped the next morning.  To this day he has yet to be found.

Frustrations came to a head on the night of August 19.  Word got out that most of the midway games were not only rigged, but downright impossible to win.  All told, the games had cheated the townsfolk out of several thousand dollars.

A mob formed in the woods near the back of the carnival.  At the leader’s go, the group tore through the shabby fencing and made a bee-line for the assorted wagons and shacks used by the carnies.  Torches lit up the night sky, pitchforks glistened in the moonlight.  Anything made of wood was set afire.  Several carnival workers were injured, one was killed when a hefty farm-boy drove a shovel through the man’s skull.  The rest made it to their wagons and fled the town in terror.

The rides were torn to pieces.  Many of the townsfolk made off with their parts, proudly displaying them for years to family and friends when they got together for cookouts.  The only thing left behind was the giant clown head that once dominated the welcome sign.

Bread Crumbs


Outtakes 396

Bread Crumbs

By Cait Collins

 

Sometimes plot twists are not satisfying.  When the turn-on-a-dime is not set up, the twist falls flat.  The inciting incident has no foundation and the reader is left asking. “What happened?”  While you can’t spring the twist on the reader, you don’t need to beat them over the head with clues.  It is possible to be subtle.

You don’t need a neon sign.  Go simple with an unusual car.  A vintage convertible from the fifties or sixties appearing in different places along the protagonist’s way hints “clue”.  Or maybe “wait for it.” What about a telephone call?  Maybe a piece of music stirs a hint of anticipation. Small, reoccurring incidents create a trail to that moment that changes the character’s life.  It may be a few bread crumbs, but they allow the twists and turns of the story to have continuity instead of creating an earthquake.

PLOTTING A STORY


PLOTTING A STORY

Natalie Bright

Stuck in a rut? Look at your story from a different perspective by breaking down the plot structure. I got this at a writer’s conference and unfortunately, my notes do not indicate who to credit. Apologies.

Once upon a time there was:

Every day, (regular world):

One day, (normal world changes):

Because of that, (conflict):

Hero/heroine reacts how:

Because of that, (conflict):

Finally, he/she (resolution):

What does your character want more than anything in the world? As the writer, you must do everything you can to prevent them from getting it. How can you twist the expected outcomes and add something unexpected? Happy ending or not? You decide.

Writing is your journey, so go write!

Natalie
Nataliebright.com

DON’T FORGET TO WARM UP


DON’T FORGET TO WARM UP

Lynnette Jalufka

Dancing is a form of exercise that uses every part of your body. Think of doing the twist. Many muscles are involved in that one dance as you turn to the beat. It’s a good idea to warm up first before beginning such a strenuous activity. Muscles need to stretch to perform their best and to help avoid injury.

So what does this have to do with writing? Have you noticed that in most stories the plot twist occurs toward the end? There’s a good reason for that. The author has to build up to it, like warming up for a dance. Readers need to fully know the characters and their motivations before you can surprise them. Once you’ve lured them into thinking they know what will happen, you can throw in a twist that turns everything around. Otherwise, the twist won’t have the impact you want to achieve. Warm ups are important, even in writing

What If…?


Outtakes 395

Release 8/21/2019

What If…?

By Cait Collins

I admire writers who can sit down and plan a work from “It was a dark and stormy night” to The End.  I can’t do that because my mind works more on a “What if…” basis.  My current work is a short story about a former Hollywood actress who is facing unwelcome visitors from her past.  I have really enjoyed the “what if” game with this one.

For example, what if a co-conspirator turns traitor on the antagonist and joins the heroine?  What if the mentor did not die of a heart attack?  What if the antagonist goes crazy?”

What if the hero is too shy to say “I love you”? The real fun is that I’m not sure what the answers are?  A character’s response to any of these situations can change the course of the story. Even small choices can have a major influence on the outcome of the narrative.  I really can’t wait find out what happens next.

READY TO TWIST


READY TO TWIST

Lynnette Jalufka

 

Today’s the day you’re going to sit down and write that plot twist. Here’s six tips from literaryterms.net:

  • Think of all likely outcomes for the story…and then throw them out!
  • Develop obstacles that are seemingly impossible to overcome, and then think of a plausible solution that the audience won’t guess, but will understand and believe when it happens
  • For a big shock, make it seem like there is only one possible outcome to the story—and then use your twist to completely surprise the audience
  • For a surprising but less extreme twist, develop your story in a way that makes the audience totally unsure where it is going or what could happen, leaving it open to many possible outcomes.
  • For a clever and thought-provoking twist, use small clues throughout the story that the audience may forget or only take small note of, and then bring back those clues in the twist
  • You may choose to foreshadow your twist with either very subtle and hidden clues, or very noticeable and direct clues, depending on how close you want your audience to get to figuring it out.

As a mystery fan, I personally love it when the author leaves small clues and/or foreshadows the plot twist. It makes the book memorable.


Screenplays

by Adam Huddleston

 

This week I wanted to share with you my new interest. Sometimes when you’re stuck in your current work, not sure where the plot should go or if your dialogue is stale or not, it helps to branch out and try something different.

Although I love reading, my current schedule makes it easier for me to watch movies.  I honestly can’t remember the last time I began and finished a novel without putting it down for several months or starting another book in between.  Since I love films, I thought I might try my hand at writing a screenplay.  The first step is learning proper formatting and some of the terminology.  After that, it’s just a matter of letting the words flow on the page.

Here is an extremely short screenplay I recently finished based on an extremely short story I wrote a year or so ago.

 

FADE IN:

INT. MASTER BEDROOM – NIGHT

ADAM is in bed, fast asleep next to his wife, JENNIFER.  A thin line of saliva runs down his cheek onto his pillow.  A muffled THUMP comes from the direction of his son JASON’s bedroom.

ADAM

What was that?

JENNIFER twitches a little in her sleep but does not respond.  ADAM slides out of bed and glares at his wife. He shuffles down the hallway to JASON’s room.

ADAM

Everything ok–

ADAM sees a giant shadow in the corner of his son’s bedroom.  He opens his mouth but is interrupted when something brown streaks in front of his eyes.  JASON’s teddy bear, ROBOT, performs a flying side-kick into the nose of a massive creature in the corner.  Bones SNAP. ROBOT drives his fist into the beast’s chest and pulls out a pulsing, black heart. ROBOT screams in triumph and holds the heart aloft.  ADAM’s and ROBOT’s eyes meet. ROBOT grins and trots across the floor to ADAM.

ADAM

Robot?

 

ROBOT

Yes, Adam?

 

ADAM

Is this really happening?

ROBOT’s brow furrows.

ROBOT

Tonight it is, Adam.  Tomorrow may be peaceful.  The days and weeks following may be as well.  But some day…some day…

ADAM looks over at the dead creature then back at his son’s sleeping buddy.

ADAM

Oh.  Okay.  Uh, thanks…Robot.

ROBOT

You’re quite welcome, Adam; you and Jason both.  I swore to protect his precious life the day you brought me home and I plan on keeping that promise for as long as I am able.

ADAM nods at the dead beast.

ADAM

What are you gonna do with that?

ROBOT

Don’t worry about the Gorthok.  It’ll be disposed of before your son wakes.  Oh, and Jason whispered to me tonight that he wants toaster pastries in the morning.

ADAM

Uh…toaster pastries.  Got it.

ADAM turns toward the hallway for a moment then turns back again.  The room is back to normal. All four corners of the bedroom are empty.  Jason is tucked away under his comforter, a small arm clutching ROBOT close.  ADAM heads back to his bedroom rubbing his eyes.

ADAM

 (mumbling)

No more Italian food after eleven.

Plot Twist Examples


Plot Twist Examples

Natalie Bright

Need some inspiration to shock and delight your readers? Most often seen in mysteries and suspense thrillers, think about using plot twists in your own work. Here are a few of the most recognizable, and now it’s up to you to put a completely new spin on it for your story.

  1. I Am Your Father

How about those family secrets? Luke discovers his arch-enemy Darth Vader is his father. What a shocker!

    2.  Reveal of the Villain

The person who kills Marion in the shower at the Bates Motel isn’t the overbearing Mrs. Bates, but her son Norman.

    3.  It’s All Just a Dream

In the movie A BEAUTIFUL MIND, a mathematician with schizophrenia had been hallucinating the entire time. The important people in his life are not real.

     4.   Not Really Dead and Bet You Think You’ve Seen the Last of Me

How many times did you suspect the character is dead, and then he comes back to try to kill the hero one more time, or it’s a set-up for the next movie or book in the series? We thought Gandalf fell off the bridge, but he makes a surprise comeback.

You have to touch upon your plot twists so that it makes sense narratively, as in THE SIXTH SENSE. Watch the movie again and pay attention to those subtle clues that David is really dead.

     5.  The Surprise Villian

In TOY STORY 2, Stinky Pete is the antagonist who stopped Woody’s escape plan. In FROZEN, Anna is rescued by Hans and then he leaves her to die to take over the kingdom.

Remember, a plot twist must be narratively sound, unexpected, and it’s best to foreshadow it in some way.

 

PREPARE TO TWIST


PREPARE TO TWIST

Lynnette Jalufka

 

How do you go about doing a plot twist that will not have your readers throwing their books, or electronic devices, against the wall? I found some great advice on literaryterms.net:

When developing a plot twist…your goal should always be geared towards the audience’s reaction. As an overall rule, remember that they’ve taken the time to invest themselves in your story. You want them to get some sort of satisfaction for that—so, while your plot twist should be surprising, and may even be shocking, it should not strongly disappoint an audience, or leave them feeling cheated, tricked, or manipulated by their emotional investment in the story.

When developing your plot twist, you should have one of these goals in mind:

  • To leave your audience saying, ‘No way, I can’t believe it! I never saw that coming!’
  • To leave your audience saying, ‘Oh yeah, totally—how didn’t I see that coming?’
  • To leave your audience saying, ‘Wow, I knew it was possible, but never guessed it would really happen!’

In short, remember your readers. You want them to finish the book. They are the ones who will decide whether your twist is successful.