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…

 

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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

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!

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

 

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!

Characters & The Five Senses


Characters & The Five Senses

Natalie Bright

 

The main character Hassan in the movie The Hundred Foot Journey, is a culinary genius whose talent propels him to a world-renowned chef.  The title refers to the distance between Hassan’s family who relocates to France because of a tragedy and opens an Indian restaurant across the road from a traditional French restaurant. I have watched this many times, and I always tear up at the same scene.

The Power of Taste and Smell

One of my favorite scenes is the perfect example of how the power of taste and smell can be used to create powerful emotion.

While sitting in his darkened, closed restaurant overlooking the Paris skyline, Hassan hears a young co-worker on break. He raises his head, pauses, and then slowly rises from the floor. The young man is eating. “Do you want some?” he asks.

As Hassan dips pieces of fried bread into the dish, the young man explains that his wife cooks the traditional Indian way on an open fire in the courtyard of their apartment using spices from their homeland. Tears well up in Hassan’s eyes and you can see the emotion and internal conflict on his face. His mother, who had died in a fire, was the one who had taught him the use of spices. The family’s relocation from India to France had been a struggle of cultural differences. All of this is visible as Hassan buries his face in his hands and sobs. You understand the conflict that is going through his mind. There is no dialogue. He doesn’t voice his pain, but you know. It is a very powerful scene triggered by smell and taste.

INCLUDE THE SENSES

Characters should experience several of the five senses in every scene. This pulls your reader into the emotion and setting and reveals the conflict that the character is experiencing. During the editing process, I find it’s easier to deliberately focus on enhancing the five sense during one pass. As I read every scene, I think about the reality for that character. What more can be revealed? For example, the smells of food, the sounds of nature, the feel of satin fabric, etc. Dig deep into the slightest, most minute detail of what that character is experiencing. Maybe it’s good as written, but maybe it can be better.

Here’s Your Homework

Think of your favorite movie and watch a scene that triggers emotion based on any of the five senses. If you have a particular scene in mind, be very specific with your search terms to find it on YouTube.

Watch the scene several times. Now, turn off the video and write that same scene. Be descriptive about the senses that trigger the emotion. Fill your pages with emotion and rewriter the scene.

Beatrix Potter – self-published author


Beatrix Potter funded the first print run of 250 copies of The Tale of Peter Rabbit.
Now 45 million copies have been sold around the world.

She also created and patented a Peter Rabbit doll which led to stationary, tea sets, wallpaper, blankets, art books, and figurines. This self-published author is considered the first to make use of the commercialization of her characters.

It’s Called Networking


It’s Called Networking

by Natalie Bright

 

Throughout every industry, professionals network. From skilled surgeons, teachers, CEO’s, clothing designers, coffee shop owners, office managers–you name it. There are working lunches, golf games, and five o’clock happy hour meet- ups. At some point in every one’s career, there will be some type of meeting, workshop, or conference to learn and connect with others. When I worked in human resources, conferences were invaluable. It’s where I learned about the new labor laws and where I found a network of people who worked in the same industry as I did. People I could call on, if I needed information or resources. People who were saavy as to the latest trends or tools that I needed to know to do my job more effectively.

Being a writer is no different.

Writers are No Exception

Creating and publishing books is a business after all, and at some point in your career, you’ll need to leave the creative side and step into the business side of writing. You need to know about social marketing, query letters, proposals, characterization, plotting techniques, formatting, book cover designs, social media, and you need to network with people who understand the business.

Attention: Amarillo Area Writers

If you live in or around the Texas Panhandle or tri-state area, there is a networking group for you.

Texas High Plains Writers, based in Amarillo, is one of the oldest continuous groups in the U.S. Founded in 1920 as Panhandle Pen Women, the group has been supporting and educating writers for almost a century.

As a Board member this year, I can tell you that there are many exciting things on the horizon. 2018 is going to be an awesome year, and you should plan to be a part of it. Go to the website, http://texashighplainswriters.com/ and join for only $30 a year. Hurry, you have until February 1 and then dues are $36.00. We meet every other month on the third Saturday. For the price of a latte you can network with authors who write in every type of genre, and learn everything you’ve ever wanted to know about this crazy industry.

As the Newsletter Editor, send me an article that might be of interest to the group and I’ll publish it in our eNews. You can sign up THE WINDOW on the far-right side of our Home Page.

Find us on Facebook too, where we already have several events posted for 2018.  https://www.facebook.com/groups/1400256840281452/events/

So what have you done for yourself lately to advance your writing career? What have you put back into your business? As a professional writer, one of the best ways to make an investment in YOU is to become active in a writer’s organization.

Network, learn, and keep writing!