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.

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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

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.

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.

The Ghost In The Story


Outtakes 394

The Ghost In The Story

By Cait Collins

 

Have you ever picked up a book because the cover caught your eye?  Then you read the synopsis and thought the book was a keeper?  You read the first three chapters and put it down?

I have a stack of books like this ready to go to the library for their book sale.  Sometime the book just doesn’t live up to the hype.  The real question is Why hasn’t the story kept your attention?  Maybe it was because the genre just wasn’t your cup of tea.  Maybe one of the characters bothered you.  Maybe it was contrived.  But the simple answer might be that it is too predictable.

A good plot twist may be just the seasoning you need.

Imagine this.  Carter’s mother disappeared three years ago.  She hasn’t called, written, or sent a greeting card.  The police believe she is dead, but there is no body.  One snowy winter’s eve there’s a knock on the front door. Carter opens it and his mother is standing on the front step with a baby in her arms.  Carter is dumbfounded.  Who is the baby and why did his mother come home now?

This is a simple use of plot twist.  This one event changes the course of the story.  So how does the writer use this to enhance the story?  The first consider whether or not the event impacts the story enough that you want to play on it.  If you can make it work without it becoming a burden on the plot, use it.  Develop the story using the twist.  But if you have to contrive the action to make the twist work, stop.  This twist is not the road your story should take. Plot twists are needed within the story to keep the readers interest and to move the plot to a satisfying end.  To throw an event into the story for no logical reason or for the word count does not necessarily create a good story. Tossing a ghost in the midst of a romance might sound fun and thrilling, but the ghost has to have a purpose. He can’t just be the invisible guest in the room.

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…

 

My Favorite Movie Plot Twists


My Favorite Movie Plot Twists

by Adam Huddleston

Even though this is a writer’s blog, I feel much more comfortable mentioning plot twists that have occurred in movies.  Without spoilers, and in no particular order, here is a list of my favorite film twists:

  • Unbreakable, The Village, The Sixth Sense (practically anything by M. Night Shyamalan)
  • The Shawshank Redemption
  • Soylent Green
  • Fight Club
  • Seven
  • Psycho
  • The Empire Strikes Back
  • Planet of the Apes
  • The Usual Suspects
  • Shutter Island

WHAT I WRITE—PART 4


WHAT I WRITE—PART 4

Lynnette Jalufka

 

 

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.