DON’T FORGET TO WARM UP
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
READY TO TWIST
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.
PREPARE TO TWIST
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.
WHAT I WRITE—PART 4
A major part of deciding what genre I write is defining my audience. I write what I want to read. So, who am I?
Well, I’m obviously a woman, who has lived long enough to know that life is very hard, no matter what century you live in. Everything is conspiring to crush my dreams, but I press on. I’m desperate to know that there is hope after I make a wrong decision, when life takes a cruel turn, that disaster can be overcome. I want to be encouraged.
To escape my insignificant life, I read about another time far removed from my own. An adventure where I can hear thundering hooves and clashing steel, where men are bold and courageous when they have to be, and ladies can be just as bold and courageous, with a little romance in the mix. A clean book, one that does not contain profanity, descriptive sex, or graphic violence.
So, what do I write? Inspiring fiction with a medieval twist.
WHAT I WRITE—PART 3
I was surprised when my critique group called my current book a young adult novel. It does have a seventeen-year-old heroine. In fact, I have a young adult either as a protagonist or a major character in all my ideas for future novels. And I’ve been reading several young adult books lately. I like journeying with young people as they struggle to find their place in the world. But I didn’t write this book for a teenage audience, which is the main component of YA. I’m writing what I want to read as an adult. Then again, adults make up half the YA readership.
There is another problem with categorizing this novel as YA. It is the first in a series about a noble family determined to protect their kingdom. The second book concerns the relationship between a mother and her son as they deal with tragedy along with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. The third one chronicles a woman as she deals with her teenage daughter and her mother-in-law while they’re lost in enemy territory. These sound more like women’s fiction than young adult, except with battles, sword fights, narrow escapes, and other fun stuff like that. I just don’t see how to market my current work as young adult without drastically changing the entire series into something I don’t recognize.
So, is my novel YA? I think young people will enjoy it. But branding it as such is a different matter.
WHAT I WRITE—PART 2
I used to work at a Christian bookstore, and it was rare to see a fiction book concerning the Middle Ages, historical or fantasy. It still is. The fantasy books tended to be all allegorical and hard to believe. I decided to write a book that I wanted to read, and I wasn’t finding on the shelves.
Here’s the problem. I wrote a fantasy book. But in my mind, Christian and fantasy don’t mix. Even the biggest awards in Christian fiction, the Christy Awards and the Carol Awards, don’t call it fantasy. Instead, they refer to it as visionary or speculative fiction. What makes fiction Christian is that it’s about a Christian worldview. Christian fantasy does exist, though I have only seen one book series similar to mine, the Tahn Dorn series by L. A. Kelly. (Check out my review of Tahnin a previous blog.)
I always thought of myself as an inspirational writer. I want to encourage people, to give them hope. My Christian faith plays a huge role in that. The books I have planned show that faith in the midst of trying circumstances. So, I’m a Christian medieval fantasy writer. It’s who I am.
WHAT I WRITE—PART 1
I never considered myself a fantasy writer. I always thought I was an historical novelist because of my love of history. My first novel was about a person in the Bible. It drove me crazy trying to get all the details right just in case a biblical scholar happened to read it. The right one seemed to allude me, no matter how much research I did. (Someday, I’ll revise it for publication.)
So, I went back to a medieval story idea I’d been thinking about for years, in which I created my own kingdom. No one can tell me this wasn’t right in medieval England because the story doesn’t take place in medieval England. This is 13thcentury Armonye, with its own different regions, customs, and rivalries. The closest genre it fits into is medieval fantasy, although there are no fantastical elements like magic or strange creatures. The only thing that makes it fantasy is that it doesn’t happen in a historical place.
Why the Middle Ages? No period in history is more misunderstood, but it captures my imagination like nothing else. There are horses, swords, knights, ladies, castles, and battles. There’s great courage combined with chivalry, the noble knight fighting for his lady. In truth, I think it’s cool to be called “my lady.” I know that’s a romanticized view, but it’s great fuel for stories.
AS OLD AS TIME
One of my top all-time movies is the original animated Beauty and the Beast from 1991. (I haven’t seen the live action version and don’t care to.) It retells the familiar theme of seeing past one’s looks into the beauty inside.
Belle wants nothing more than adventure far from her everyday life. When her father is taken prisoner in an enchanted castle ruled by a hideous beast, she offers to become Beast’s prisoner instead. Belle doesn’t know that Beast must learn to love someone and have that person return his love before the last petal of a magic rose falls. If he doesn’t, he will be a beast forever. Step by step, they grow closer together until the handsome Gaston, who wants to marry Belle for her beauty, attacks the castle.
Engaging characters, great animation, and awesome music make this movie come alive. I love the scene where Beast dances with Belle in her golden dress. If you haven’t seen it in while or at all, rent it, stream it, check it out of the library. It’s well worth watching. I shed a tear the last time I saw it.
DID SOMEONE SAY TREASURE?
One of my favorite movies is National Treasure, partly because I like history. It’s a heart-pounding race to find the greatest fortune ever put together, the Knights Templar Treasure. Ben Gates is obsessed with it; his family was entrusted with a clue to its whereabouts since the American Revolution. But when he discovers the clue leads to another one hidden in the Declaration of Independence, he and his ruthless partner, Ian, split ways. Ben is left with an agonizing decision: to save the Declaration, he must steal it before Ian does.
The movie is a fun ride with the clues leading through American history. It keeps you on the edge of your seat. Grab some popcorn and enjoy.
Last week, I wrote that The Lion Kingsolidified its place as my favorite movie after I watched it in 3D. This happened shortly after I saw the last Harry Potter film, also in 3D. I’m referring to Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2, my reserve champion of movies.To be fair, it is only half a movie. You had to have seen Part 1 first to follow the story. And none of it makes any sense unless you’ve watched the other six films, because important things from them show up in these two movies.
Both parts of Deathly Hallows are amazing when put together. They tell the story of Harry’s final showdown with his enemy, Voldemort, who has taken over the magical world. Harry goes on a difficult journey with his friends to find and destroy objects called Horcruxes, which, once all are destroyed, will be the end of Voldemort. That is, if he can do it before the Dark Lord kills him.
Part 2 is the more action-packed and emotional of the two movies. It contains a huge battle at Harry’s school, Hogwarts. I love this line from Harry as he argues with Hermione about returning to the school. He says, “Hermione, when have our plans ever actually worked? We plan, we get there, and all hell breaks loose.” It summarizes what has happened before and foreshadows what is to come.
I read the book before and after I saw the films. I’m glad the novel was made into two movies, because they contain all the emotion from the book. (I have shed tears in Part 2 ever since I watched it in 3D, which is incredible since I don’t usually cry in movies, and this is an action-packed film.) In my opinion, these movies are as close to the book as films can get.