Non-linear Plot


Non-linear Plot

by Adam Huddleston

Infuriating to some, fascinating to others, a non-linear plot in writing or film can be very thought provoking.  I, for one, am a fan of non-linear narrative.  

What does it mean for a work to be non-linear?  A simple definition is that it is a plot that does not follow a chronological path.  This can be obtained by using multiple plot lines, character flashbacks, or internal narrative.  

Literary examples include: “Wuthering Heights”, “Slaughterhouse-Five”, and “Cloud Atlas”.  Examples in film include several Quentin Tarantino pieces such as “Pulp Fiction”, “Reservoir Dogs”, and “The Hateful Eight”.  One movie told almost completely in reverse is “Memento”.  

While some readers or movie viewers are put off by the fact that they have to work to make sense of the narrative, I enjoy piecing the plot together.  It makes for a fun trip through the story and gives a feeling of accomplishment by the tale’s end.  I highly recommend giving some of these books and movies a try and see what you think.   

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Plot Structure


Plot Structure

by Adam Huddleston

 

Here is a blog submission from 2017 pertaining to plot.

I can’t recall exactly where I got this from (could have been on this Wordsmith Six site for all I know) but I found it to be very useful.

Plot Structure

Hook:

Inciting incident:

First plot point:

First pinch point:

Mid-point:

Second pinch point:

ONWAGD:

Second plot point:

Climax:

Denouement:

Show protagonist in “normal” (current) world- Protagonist is incomplete (reveal flaw/insecurity/secret want)

Inciting incident that forces protagonist from normal world- Increased awareness of need for change

Introduce key secondary characters; establish setting & tone- fear/resistance to change — comfortable in current life

Protagonist must make a choice/decision- Overcomes fear/resistance to change

Plot point #1: Journey begins as result of decision Mental/emotional commitment to change

Protagonist begins “living” in the new world Protagonist is disorganized (imagine the feeling of first day in new school)

New complications arise Protagonist is tested and begins adapting to new ways/questioning the old

Complications grow –Complications escalate to new crisis Protagonist is slowly growing, but still inauthentic–not committed to changed self

Mid-point: crisis forces new decision/direction Protagonist is confronted with their flaw/desire (often is the antagonist who holds up this “mirror”)

Protagonist catches breath (even if complications are brewing behind the scenes) Reward scene: protagonist has accomplished something and has brief moment of victory

Complications develop new level of complexity Begins accepting consequences of new life

Favorite Quotes


Favorite Quotes

by Adam Huddleston

 

For this week’s blog concerning dialogue, I wanted to resurrect an older blog containing some of my favorite quotes.  Enjoy!

“It is better to keep your mouth closed and let people think you are a fool than to open it and remove all doubt.”  —   Mark Twain

“When I die, I want to go peacefully like my grandfather did–in his sleep. Not yelling and screaming like the passengers in his car.”  —  Bob Monkhouse

“I love deadlines. I like the whooshing sound they make as they fly by.”  —  Douglas Adams

When you are courting a nice girl an hour seems like a second. When you sit on a red-hot cinder a second seems like an hour. That’s relativity.  —  Albert Einstein

A government that robs Peter to pay Paul can always depend on the support of Paul.        —  George Bernard Shaw

Master of Dialogue


Master of Dialogue

by Adam Huddleston

“Master” might be a bit much, but I feel that one of the greats when it comes to writing dialogue in their work is Quentin Tarantino.  I know a lot of people are put off by the extreme violence and subject matter in his movies, when you sit and listen to his characters speak to each other, you see that he has a firm hold on realistic language.

For example, look at movies like “Pulp Fiction” and “Reservoir Dogs”.  The film characters are mostly all criminals, committing dangerous acts that none of us would ever do, but their speech is completely relatable.  They discuss mundane topics like cheeseburgers, tipping waitresses, and a hunger for pancakes.  This dialogue connects the movie watcher with the characters and brings them into the story.  

While some may feel that Tarantino’s dialogue borders on the vulgar, each line is appropriate for the situation and executed perfectly by the actor or actress.  If you have a few hours to spare, I highly recommend the aforementioned films for there plot and especially their dialogue.

Dialect


Dialect

by Adam Huddleston

The literary term this week is: dialect.  This word is simply defined as the pronunciation, grammar, and spelling of a particular people.  Dialect is one facet that separates groups of people from one another.  Using dialect effectively increases the level of characterization and leads to more enjoyment by the reader.  

Many authors have used regional dialects well.  The first author that comes to my mind is Mark Twain.  If you’ve ever read Tom Sawyer or Huckleberry Finn, you can almost feel Southern speech dripping off the page.  My favorite author, Stephen King, uses speech patterns and phrases often heard in the northern New England states.   

One word of advice: if you give a character a specific dialect, be cautious that it is one generally understood by your audience and not what you think it sounds like.  For example, some may believe that all Southerners use the term “ain’t” or drop the “g” off of the ending of words.  Many do, but don’t fall into the trap of stereotyping.

Hopefully, the proper use of dialect will flesh out your characters.  Happy writing!

Character Chart


Character Chart

by Adam Huddleston

I’m not sure where I received this template for a character chart, but I wanted to share it with everyone.  It is only the first two sections of the chart, but if you’d like the rest, feel free to contact me.  Happy writing!

character chart sheet1

Making Your Characters Interesting


Making Your Characters Interesting

by Adam Huddleston

So you want people to read your story, right?  And your story has characters, right?  

Right.

Well, why would a reader dig through hundreds of pages of your tale if they are bored?  Reader’s read for several reasons, but the primary motive for them reading fiction is an interest in the plot and characters.  So, it is imperative that you create interesting people to populate your work.

1.  Make well-rounded characters.  Give everyone strengths and weaknesses.  Make some endearing to the reader and others detestable. Now, don’t go overboard and wear the reader down by explaining every backstory on every single character, but fill out the main cast.

2.  Be sure the reader understands the goals of the protagonist and antagonist.  Make the goals strong and clear and make sure the reader knows when/if they reach those goals.  As an avid reader, I can tell you that it is aggravating to spend time moving through a novel only to have a nebulous ending.

3.  Make the characters relatable.  This admonition is similar to the first, but it is important.  Even if your hero is a muscular, brave, non-human, and you are not, make some part of their personality similar to the what a typical reader’s would be.  The reader wants to be a part of the adventure, and will feel closer to it if they can relate to one or more of the main characters.

I hope these rules help in some way.  Happy writing!   

Favorite Literary Characters


Favorite Literary Characters

by Adam Huddleston

Since the theme this month is characterization, I wanted to mention a few of my favorite characters from classic fiction.  Of course, this list is by no means comprehensive.

One of my most beloved book series is The Dark Tower by Stephen King.  While many fans of Mr. King’s magnum opus would site the main character’s side-kicks as their favorite characters, I have to go with the protagonist, Roland Deschain.  He is simultaneously endearing and frightful.  His gun-fighting abilities are fascinating as is his doggedness at pursuing the story’s ultimate goal.

The Lord of the Rings by J.R.R. Tolkien hosts a literary ton of characters.  Of all of them, my favorite is Aragorn (AKA Strider, AKA King Elessar).  He is the prototypical hero and Tolkien provides him with excellent dialogue, great actions, and a wonderful arc.

In Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein, the author presents the tale in a story-within-a-story format.  In other words, one character is telling their story to another character, who in turn is telling it to another, who in turn is telling it to the reader.  My favorite character is actually Dr. Frankenstein’s creation, often referred to as the monster.  He is intriguing and pitiful.  The creation’s murderous actions are horrifying, but he is also a sad character that the reader feels empathy towards.

What are your favorite literary characters?  

My Style of Characterization


My Style of Characterization

by Adam Huddleston

Throughout this month, our writing group will be blogging about our styles and feelings concerning the topic of characterization.  I’m sure that there will be many contrasts and comparisons between direct and indirect characterization in writing.  While I have little more to add than my more experienced peers, I would like to express my favorite style of character description.

I readily admit that I am weak when it comes to direct characterization.  I need to work harder on describing what my characters actually look and sound like.  While I do believe that we should leave some of that up to the reader’s imagination, I do need to strengthen those skills.  I do prefer to show a character acting or reacting a specific way.  By doing this, the reader hopefully gains a better understanding on what the character is like.

For example, in the beginning of my work “Mattie”, the main character is an orphan sent to live with her only remaining relative,  a great aunt.  During the car ride to the aunt’s house, I attempt to portray a slight air of wealth and haughtiness to the older woman by describing how she carries herself and her dialogue with the orphan girl.  It’s not perfect, but I feel that it flows fairly smoothly.

Malapropism


Malapropism

by Adam Huddleston

This week’s literary term is: malapropism.  It is defined as the use of an incorrect word (usually for comedic effect) with a similar sound in place of the correct word.  For example, in William Shakespeare’s “Much Ado About Nothing”, a character states “Our watch, sir, have indeed comprehended two auspicious persons” (replacing apprehended and suspicious).  This effect is often used by characters who are either uneducated or wish to appear so.  

I hope this helps in your craft.  Happy writing!