Head Hopping


POST CARDS FROM THE MUSE

Head Hopping

By Nandy Ekle

Head hopping is technical jargon for writers. This is when the writer tells you what everyone is thinking and doing instead of sticking with one character. I’ve seen it work when used by a certain master novel writer, but most of the time it’s frowned upon by readers. The accepted rules are to change chapters if you must hop to another head, or you can show the needed information in dialogue, in body language, or by the actions and appearances of the different characters.

Another way to show your reader what all the other characters may be thinking and why is perception of your main character. And this method can be a delicious plot twist tool. I’ve seen this used more times than I can count, and when I recognize it, I usually fall in love with the author.

There’s the typical love story where the conflict is due to one character misperceiving the other character, which leads to heartache, which leads to either happily ever after or sadder buy wiser.

And then there’s the typical mystery. The bad guy can actually be hidden this way. He will be able to hide right out in the open if the other characters think he’s just another good guy standing around wondering who the bad guy is, when it’s him all along.

And, of course, this method is king in comedies. Some of the funniest stories in the world are built around a gross misperception. I know you’ve read and seen this happen, even in real life. One person gives his opinion on a subject. Another person walks in in the middle of the conversation and thinks the subject is one thing, when it’s actually something complete different, something so totally random that the audience is left wondering how could the misunderstanding have happened. After that, the whole story centers around each character acting upon what they believe the other has inferred.

But another interesting fact is when this is used on the reader. Now, we never ever want to lie to our readers. But if we make a statement, our readers are free to interpret it the way they want. So, if tell you “Jim walked in quietly with his white hat covering his head,” you might think Jim is cowboy,an introvert with a good sense of morals, and his hair is blond. However, you might not know he’s wearing a white baseball cap because he’s bald under the hat, and he’s quiet because he’s barely awake after spending a night killing his date.

Next week I’ll talk about the different points of view and why we might choose the POV we choose.

Congratulations. You have just received a post card from the muse.

Mysteries


POST CARDS FROM THE MUSE

Mysteries

By Nandy Ekle

 

Of all the genres of stories, I really think mysteries are the most fun. You start by introducing your character and the inciting incident, which is usually a crime. Then the rest of the story is like a jigsaw puzzle. The reader is busy trying to put the puzzle together, and when the final piece falls into place, they are either surprised because they didn’t see it coming, or they’re satisfied because they knew it all along.

But, when you stop and think about it, every story is a mystery. It has to be. If your reader opens a book and knows the whole backstory, the whole future story, and everything in between, what fun is that? Even a tale we call predictable is still a mystery. If it’s done correctly, the reader has to go all the way to the end to prove they are right.

One of the ways to keep ‘em guessing is giving clues that might or might not lead them in the right direction. Now, I do not mean lie to your readers, because we must always be honest. But we can cross some signals.

We know that in real life, there are not clear-cut, all good points or all bad points. Every person has strengths and weaknesses. Heroes have flaws and villains have good points. And what we perceive as good or bad is not always the truth of the situation.

If you have a character named Bob who is short and balding, growing thick in the middle and wears bottle bottom glasses, what do you think about him? What if I told you he is middle-aged, been married 20 years to the same woman, and has three children who love and respect him? But the other side of the story is a new talent has shown up, and because of this he is gone most evenings, telling his wife he is working late. When he comes in he smells like cigarette smoke, perfume, and he’s so tired he can barely stay awake. What do you think about him now?

So, in the final scene, when he jumps through a plate glass window during a hostage situation in a restaurant, followed by his secretary who as become his assistant, and together they rescue the hostages and seize the real bad guys, is that what you were expecting?

Did you notice that his wife is one of the hostages that he saves?

Congratulations. You have just received a post card from the muse.

 

 

 

A Second


POST CARDS FROM THE MUSE

A Second

By Nandy Ekle

First writing assignment in the new prompt book I bought asks, “What can happen in a second?”

Capturing a second takes a camera. Snap the picture and you’ve caught that moment forever.

So what is in your photograph? You might have a brand new baby in the middle of a sweet little yawn. You might have a dog jumping high in the air as he catches a flying frisbee. You might have a picture of a mountain, but the top of the mountain is covered by a layer of clouds and the bottom is hidden behind a different cloud layer. You could even have a simple bowl of fruit, nothing more, until you look closer and find that one of the apples has the shape of a small mouth bitten into it.

The point of the exercise is to find that one picture that opens up a world of words in your head. The baby yawning could be the story of conquering love. The dog catching the frisbee might be a story of victory. Maybe the partial mountain is a character who appears average on the surface, but becomes something truly majestic when the curtains roll back. And the bowl of fruit? Is there a mystery taking place there?

So, leave me a comment and tell me what you see in a second.

Congratulations. You have just received a post card from the muse.

Whodunit?


Whodunit?

www.roryckeel.com

The scene, a story with a murder in the first chapter and a trail of vague clues scattered like glass from a shattered vase dropped on a cement floor. It’s a Mystery, the genre where no one knows who did it.

Your assignment is to read along with the protagonist through the complex descriptions and help solve the puzzle. As you unravel the case step by step, you will need to avoid multiple misdirections to succeed and reveal the truth.

This genre is full of detectives both highly intelligent, or those who seem to be bumbling idiots. Amateur investigators who stumble onto the clues and those who are highly experienced and always get their man.

Rory C. Keel

Where do you belong?


Where do you belong?

Where does your writing fit in the world of genre?

A genre is a “category” of literature or other forms of art and culture. Knowing the answer to this question will be a great benefit in every area of your writing.

Here is a list of the major writing genres: children, fantasy, horror, mystery, romance, science fiction, short fiction, thriller, westerns, young adults, mainstream, nonfiction. Within each of these groups there are multiple sub-genres.

You will find that your thoughts will be more focused when you write if you understand the genre where your project best fits. You will also have a greater chance of success when seeking the proper agent for representation. Remember that not all agents represent every genre. When submitting your work directly, choose a publisher that best fits your writing. Research the company to understand what genre they represent to ensure greater chances of publication.

To help you discover which Genre fits your writing best, we will explore each category in future weekly blog posts.

Rory C. Keel

Whodunit?


Whodunit?

The scene, a story with a murder in the first chapter and a trail of vague clues scattered like glass from a shattered vase dropped on a cement floor. It’s a Mystery, the genre where no one knows who did it.

Your assignment is to read along with the protagonist through the complex descriptions and help solve the puzzle. As you unravel the case step by step, you will need to avoid multiple misdirections to succeed and reveal the truth.

This genre is full of detectives both highly intelligent, or those who seem to be bumbling idiots. Amateur investigators who stumble onto the clues and those who are highly experienced and always get their man.

Rory C. Keel

In The Beginning


POST CARDS FROM THE MUSE

In The Beginning

Once upon a time I had a teacher in high school who wasn’t a whole lot older than we were. She was easy to talk to because we were almost peers. One day she told a funny story about her brother. She told us that her whole family had gone out to eat in a restaurant one day and they were all talking and laughing and having a good time. Her brother, just a little kid at the time, wanted some of the attention, but no one noticed him at all. He finally stood up on a chair in the middle of the restaurant and yelled at the top of his lungs, “UNDERWEAR!” Needless to say, he found his attention.

Our stories are kind of like my teacher’s brother.

Our readers are busy people with homes, families and friends, jobs, shopping, and tons of other things to do in their lives. If we want their attention to tell them our stories, we need to shout something riveting in the first few words. We should start with something that will catch their attention immediately, or we will lose them quickly. Action is a good way to start, and humor opens their hearts. Then there’s the mysterious beginning such as, “If I had known things would turn out like that, I never would have done it.”

Try different opening sentences, reading them allowed and listening to the words. Look for a group of words that are provocative and attention grabbing. Your readers will be hooked for the remainder of the story.

Congratulations. You have just received a post card from the muse.

Nandy Ekle

 

Where do you belong?


Where do you belong?

Where does your writing fit in the world of genre?

A genre is a “category” of literature or other forms of art and culture. Knowing the answer to this question will be a great benefit in every area of your writing.

Here is a list of the major writing genres: children, fantasy, horror, mystery, romance, science fiction, short fiction, thriller, westerns, young adults, mainstream, nonfiction. Within each of these groups there are multiple sub-genres.

You will find that your thoughts will be more focused when you write if you understand the genre where your project best fits. You will also have a greater chance of success when seeking the proper agent for representation. Remember that not all agents represent every genre. When submitting your work directly, choose a publisher that best fits your writing. Research the company to understand what genre they represent to ensure greater chances of publication.

To help you discover which Genre fits your writing best, we will explore each category in future weekly blog posts.

Rory C. Keel