PLOT TWISTS


PLOT TWISTS

Natalie Bright

 

We are blogging about plot twists all month long. So glad you have joined us at Wordsmith Six!

Plot Twists are defined as something is going on or is about to happen that we, the readers/viewers/players, don’t see coming; if we had known about it. When that story element is revealed to us, we are surprised, shocked, and delighted.

Common themes, or plot tropes, can be found in every genre. For example, in mysteries common tropes include absence of evidence, everyone is a suspect, hidden in plain sight, or you meddling kids.

In the romance genre, popular tropes include transformation from ugly duckling to princess, friends to lovers, reunited lovers, love triangle, or forbidden love. How many times have you recognized the Romeo and Juliet trope?

How about taking a romance trope and applying it to your science fiction, changling novel? How about using a popular mystery trope in your next historical fiction? You’ve the old saying, you have to know the rules in order to break them.

MAKING IT YOURS

Twist those old, tired cliché tropes into something new. Add the YOU into your story, make it unique, make it original. Now go write…

 

Advertisements

WRITING THE WEST


WRITING THE WEST

Natalie Bright

This month on WordsmithSix Blog we will be posting about the different genres we write in and why. This is a diverse group, and I think there will be something here for everybody.

This is my favorite topic so far this year. I had always envisioned myself as a romance writer because I am a huge fan of the genre. I also hold a great fascination for the American West and remember being enthralled with any book relating to the Oregon Trail at a very young age. When I turned my attention to writing as a professional, I reluctantly discovered that the stories in my head were not romance but set in the dusty frontier.

WESTERN WRITERS OF AMERICA

My author platform is solidly set in my mind. I’m not going to ignore the stories in my head any longer. Thank goodness I discovered the Western Writers of America organization through an author Dusty Richards. I took his writing course at the WTAMU Academy and he could not say enough good things about this group and the support they have given him during his career. The first convention I attended was held in Lubbock, not far from my home.

The most recent meeting this year was held in Tuscon, Arizona and I came away from that meeting with ideas for magazine articles relating to my research, a possible publisher for a new women’s fiction series set on a Texas Ranch, and many, many new friends. The weekend was packed full of inspiration and networking. Below, I have compiled a list of dos and don’ts about sending queries from an agent/editor discussion panel. I hope you find this useful.

QUERY DOS AND DON’TS

  1. DO NOT communicate about your work, the query, or your manuscript through Facebook.  This is not appropriate or professional.
  2. Send a very focused query letter with sample chapters. This will tell me if you’re a storyteller.
  3. When working with an editor on a possible contract, do not be afraid to ask every question under the sun.
  4. The Authors Guild offers its members a review of a publishing contract for free.
  5. Leave a one-page, short synopsis after your pitch meeting. Boil it down to three short paragraphs.
  6. Leave a business card after your pitch session.
  7. Be prepared to describe your project in one sentence.
  8. Understand what else has been published on the same topic and how your work fits in.
  9. Follow directions.
  10. Follow the proposed guidelines.
  11. Put your title in the subject line of your email, not “book”, “book idea” or “proposal”. My inbox is full of such emails and I don’t know who is who.
  12. Can you tell me why you’re the person to write this and what else is out there? Why is your project different?
  13. Do not send entire manuscript unless you are invited to do so.
  14. If you can’t write a legible, clear, concise query letter, how can we trust you to write an entire book?
  15. Always tell me if your book is finished or not and include the total word count in a query.

If  you are interested in the Western Writers of America organization, follow this link for how you can become a member: https://westernwriters.org/ and for a recap and pictures from this years conference, check out my blog Prairie Purview on the home page of my website https://nataliebright.com

Hollywood in the Desert


Hollywood in the Desert

Natalie Bright

 

The Old Tucson movie set continues to be recognized as the pre-eminent film location in the Southwest, after its construction in 1939. Hollywood legends have walked the streets from John Wayne, Dean Martin, Glen Ford, Elizabeth Taylor, and many others. It was the location for the show High Chaparral, which aired from 1967 to 1971 staring Cameron Mitchell and Mark Slade, among others. Films, television shows, commercials, and even music videos, have been filmed here. If you are a fan of westerns, as I am, plan a visit to the site. Located about a 30 minutes drive from Tuscon, Arizona there are also eateries, shops, and a great shoot-out performance with stunt men.  For more pictures about my recent trip to Tuscon to attend the Western Writers of American convention, go to my Instagram @natsgrams.

TUCK EVERLASTING – Review


TUCK EVERLASTING

Review by

Natalie Bright

This classic novel by Natalie Babbitt tells the story about a young girl who stumbles upon a family’s stunning secret. If you could live forever, would you?  This book has always been a favorite of mine since an early age, but have you re-read any books from your childhood lately? The writing absolutely blew me away. The setting is stunning, the characters are perfection, and the emotion packs a punch. The story lingers in your head for weeks after. Don’t you love it when that happens?  As a writer, I have discovered a whole new appreciation for the children’s literature. TUCK EVERLASTING is as entertaining for adults as well as kids. Watch the movie too, but the book is worth your time and study of story craft.

Now you have homework: pick up one of your favorite childhood book and savor the greatness with a completely new mindset as an adult.

Happy writing!

CHARACTER TRAITS


CHARACTER TRAITS

Natalie Bright

 

 

Whether you craft detailed character profiles or you let the character take you on their journey, it is helpful to really KNOW your character’s personality. By understanding the inner core of your characters, you understand their personalities, motivations, and how they will react to conflict and to each other. There are several books that make your job easier.

Writer’s Guide to Character Traits by Dr. Linda Edelstein

From Sex to Schizophrenia: Everything you need to develop your characters! As a psychology-based book for writers, this is an excellent addition for your reference library. With insightful summaries, you can dig deep into motivation and conflict, and create complex characters that readers love.

45 Master Characters: Mythic Models for Creating Original Characters by Victoria Lynn Schmidt

This book explores the common male and female archetypes that have been used in story-telling for centuries. This gives you ideas for traits, habits, hidden secrets, desires and greatest fears as a foundation for creating compelling characters and storylines. Dig deep and ask why. This will help you understand your characters’ motivation, making them intriguing and realistic. And added bonus are the examples for each archetype drawn from literature, television and movies. This is a great book.

Happy Writing!

Natalie Recommends – WRITER GET NOTICED


Natalie Recommends

WRITER GET NOTICED

 

 

Have you been writing for years, but feel like no one notices? Have you published your stories, only to gain a handful of readers? Do your marketing efforts feel like shouting into a void?

Veteran writer and motivational coach Colleen M. Story helps you break the spell of invisibility to reveal the author platform that will finally draw readers your way.

There are more books out there than ever before, and readers have many other things vying for their attention. A writer can feel like a needle in a haystack, and throwing money at the problem rarely helps. What does work is creating a platform that stands out, but in a sea of a million platforms, how is one to do that?

Writer Get Noticed! takes a new approach, dispelling the notion that fixing your writing flaws and expanding your social media reach will get you the readers you deserve. Instead, discover a myriad of strengths you didn’t know you had, then use them to find your author theme, power up your platform, and create a new author business blueprint, all while gaining insight into what sets you apart as a writer and creative artist.

 

Book Review: Any Zombie Fans?


Book Review: Any Zombie Fans?

Natalie Bright

One of my favorite things about writing conferences is meeting other writers and being exposed to genres that I never would read otherwise. Case in point, I met Mr. Ray Weeks at the Canadian River Valley Writer’s Workshop several weeks ago. He happened to take a seat across the table from me. Ray had returned to his home town of Canadian to run the movie theatre in town, and he writes stories. More specifically, short stories and stories about zombies. I bought his book EAT ME for my son. It’s autographed, “To David. Eat ‘Till your dead and then some.” My plan was to read the first few pages, but then I couldn’t put it down.

As a zombie fan, you may think that you have read every possible scenario involving zombies. After all we’ve been reading about the fictional undead since 1929, with the book THE MAGIC ISLAND by W. B. Seabrook. Horror, fantasy, science fiction – the genres can be varied but the scenario is basically the same. An undead man-eating creature destroys humanity. I thought I had read enough to last me a lifetime until I picked up this book by Ray Weeks.

EAT ME is a unique, highly inappropriate, often gross and shocking collection of zombie short stories. I love this book! His writing is brilliant.

You will be entertained by original premises from humans living in the tree tops to a zombie animal, which has always been impossible. Animals can’t be zombies. It’s unheard of. Not in the world where Mr. Weeks resides.

Buy this book. You will not regret it. In fact, order some extra copies for your friends. They will love you for it. Here’s the link for Amazon.

Eat Me: A Zombie Story Collection

 

Storytelling Narration


Storytelling Narration

“Stories are our primary tools of learning and teaching, the repositories of
our lore and legends. They bring order into our confusing world. Think about
how many times a day you use stories to pass along data, insights, memories
or common-sense advice.”

– Edward Miller, founder of Edward Elementary, illustrator and product
designer

Let’s Talk about Endings.


Let’s Talk about Endings.

Natalie Bright

Do you have an idea the ending before you start writing?

Are you a total pantser, allowing the characters to take you on their journey and realize the ending when you get there?

My brain does not work in pantser mode, I’ve discovered, after a workshop with Kathleen Baldwin, who explained the difference. I work with numbers and deadlines at the day job, and for the time I have at the keyboard writing, I like structure. My characters are well defined and I have a general idea of the ending; then I can begin writing.

The final scene is the big yellow ribbon on  your plot. It ties up the story in a satisfactory way for your readers and answers all of their questions. Make it big, make it bold, play that last climactic scene for all its worth.  This is your ultimate test, proof that the main character is worth their time and worth saving.

In bad fiction the ending may seem forced. The plot and characters have been manipulated. As a reader it is unsatisfying, maybe a bit annoying. In good fiction, plot and characters meld together and the climactic ending seem inevitable.

Happy writing!

SCENE AND SEQUEL


SCENE AND SEQUEL

Nattalie Bright

At a writer’s conference held on the campus of WTA&M University in Canyon, Texas, award-winning author Dusty Richards talked to us about scene and sequel when plotting. This is the method that he used to write his popular Byrnes Family Ranch series.

Scene structure = goal, conflict, disaster

Every scene starts with:

  1. character
  2. the viewpoint character
  3. what does he want to accomplish in the confrontation that about to happen
  4. a stepping stone to the big-picture story goal

The story goal in the scene can be stated through dialogue beforehand, internal dialogue through character thought, or stated in the opening line of the scene.

What happens next is the sequel. The pattern of sequel is:

  1. emotion
  2. quandary
  3. decision
  4. action

More on scene and sequel next week.

Follow us all month long as we blog about Story Plot. Happy writing!