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How to Structure A Story: The Eight-Point Arc

How to Structure A Story: The Eight-Point Arc
By Ali Hale - 3 minute read One of my favourite “how to write” books is Nigel Watts’ Writing A Novel and Getting Published. My battered, torn and heavily-pencil-marked copy is a testament to how useful I’ve found it over the years. (Even if you’re a short story writer or flash fiction writer rather than a novelist, this structure still applies, so don’t be put off by the title of Watts’ book.) The eight points which Watts lists are, in order: StasisTriggerThe questSurpriseCritical choiceClimaxReversalResolution He explains that every classic plot passes through these stages and that he doesn’t tend to use them to plan a story, but instead uses the points during the writing process: I find [the eight-point arc] most useful as a checklist against which to measure a work in progress. So, what do the eight points mean? Stasis This is the “every day life” in which the story is set. Trigger Something beyond the control of the protagonist (hero/heroine) is the trigger which sparks off the story. Related:  skills

13 Vital Reminders For Writers Writing is tough work. If I may be so bold as to attempt a simile, I’d say that it’s like walking through a dark forest, but with your legs tied together. So in actuality you’re not really walking at all. But sort of hopping. Oh yes, and there’s a little devil perched upon your shoulder whispering sweet doubts in your ear. To battle this devil, here are 13 punchy quotes that will help you remain focused as you hop through that dark forest. Three Ways to a Killer Opening Line By Diane O’Connell When you first crack open a new novel, there’s so much riding on that first sentence. I know it sounds a bit extreme, but hear me out — aren’t opening lines that immediately pull you into the novel’s story world so much more invigorating and intriguing than lackluster ones? A powerful and utterly interesting opening line can not only draw readers into your novel, but also hint at the overarching themes your work explores in a deep and lasting way. Here are 3 ways to open your novel: 1. It was the day my grandmother exploded. Did you just ask yourself, “What? Often, the best of these jolting lines have short, choppy syntax, or contain phrases that are downright confusing to readers (like the one above). 2. “Picture a summer stolen whole from some coming-of-age film set in small-town 1950s.” Gorgeous, almost poetic prose can sweep readers into your novel’s setting, as this opening line does here. A vibrant opening like this also sets the tone for the rest of the novel. 3.

Guide for Writers: French Phrases When you want a character to sound pretentious, nothing beats a nice turn of French. Somehow, American writers (and readers) associate all things French with money, pretense, and culture. It’s quite the mix of responses, a “love-hate” relationship with France. If you want a character with class, or one completely without class, French is a wonderful tool. affaire de coeur - love affair au contraire - to the contrary au fait - possessing practical knowledge of a thing au revoir - until we meet again autre temps, autres moeurs - other times, other customs avec plaisir - with pleasure bête noire - a thing especially disliked bon jour - good day; hello bon soir - goodnight bourgeoisie - middle-class, materialistic c’est-à-dire - that is to say c’est la vie - such is life chacun à son goût - each to his own taste coup de grâce - death blow coûte que coûte - cost what it cost dégagé - without emotional links de trop - too much or too many dernier ressort - last option Dieu avec nous - God is with us

CALLIHOO Writing Helps--Feelings Table Character Feelings You can describe your character's feelings in more exact terms than just "happy" or "sad." Check these lists for the exact nuance to describe your character's intensity of feelings. SF Characters | SF Items | SF Descriptors | SF Places | SF EventsSF Jobs/Occupations | Random Emotions | Emotions List | Intensity of Feelings Learn How to Write Songs How to build a fictional world - Kate Messner The world building strategies of popular books like Lord of the Rings and Harry Potter have been analyzed in great detail by writers and critics alike. The NPR piece “At Home in Fantasy’s Nerd-Built World” continues the conversation, taking a look at the magical creation of George R. R. Martin’s world in Game of Thrones. If you’re ready to create your very own fictional world, it’s great to start by reading lots of examples – and read like a writer, studying the craft of world building. Pay attention to the details and ask yourself why the author might have made the choices he or she did. When you’re ready to move forward, you may want to use author Kate Messner’s world building worksheet as a guide. Author/educator Kate Messner’s science thrillers Eye of the Storm and Wake Up Missing may serve as additional mentor texts for writers who want to build their own futuristic worlds.

Kurt Vonnegut -- troubling.info Eight rules for writing fiction: 1. Use the time of a total stranger in such a way that he or she will not feel the time was wasted. 2. Give the reader at least one character he or she can root for. 3. 4. 5. 6. 7. 8. -- Vonnegut, Kurt Vonnegut, Bagombo Snuff Box: Uncollected Short Fiction (New York: G.P. Kurt Vonnegut: How to Write with Style Novni How to Write a Book In Your Spare Time Many people say they would like to write a book. That statement is usually in the form of “I have this great book idea”, “I’ve always wanted to write a novel” or “I will write it when I have more time.” I used to say things like that. I kept promising myself that I would write a book someday. There are seven days in a week, but someday isn’t one of them. Do It Now I’ve had several friends who have told me they want to write a novel. The best advice I ever got from another writer was this: put your butt in the chair. Stephen King said, “The scariest moment is just before you start.” Making yourself sit down and start typing is something I fight with daily, even after having written two full-length novels. Just put your butt in the chair and start working. Finding Time The most common excuse I hear is “I don’t have time.” I wrote my first two novels by finding fifteen minutes, three times each day. In the morning, I woke up fifteen minutes early. Eventually, you will get used to it. Go img

Useful Sites for Beginners to Creative Writing Jul 20, 2011 Creative writing can be a fun and satisfying pursuit, but getting started is often intimidating. Check out the following websites for writing prompts, style tips and other essential resources for beginning poets and creative writers. Writing Prompts Find yourself staring at a blank page? Get your juices flowing with a little help from these sites: Creative Writing Prompts - Over 300 quick story ideas and inspirations. Mechanics & Style Good grammar, tight mechanics and a strong personal voice are essential elements to good creative writing. OWL - Purdue University's Online Writing Lab (OWL) covers just about everything writing-related. Writing Forums Not ready to join a 'real life' writer's group? Writing.com - This forum for writers of all skill levels has been operating for over a decade. Other Resources Writer's Digest - The website for the Writer's Digest magazine offers a huge range of resources in one place: forums, style tips, creativity prompts and much more.

100 Exquisite Adjectives By Mark Nichol Adjectives — descriptive words that modify nouns — often come under fire for their cluttering quality, but often it’s quality, not quantity, that is the issue. Plenty of tired adjectives are available to spoil a good sentence, but when you find just the right word for the job, enrichment ensues. Subscribe to Receive our Articles and Exercises via Email You will improve your English in only 5 minutes per day, guaranteed! 21 Responses to “100 Exquisite Adjectives” Rebecca Fantastic list! 25 Ways To Fuck With Your Characters As storyteller, you are god. And to be frank, you’re not a particularly nice god — at least, not if you want your story to resonate with readers. A good storyteller is a crass and callous deity who treats the characters under his watchful eye like a series of troubled butt-puppets. Put differently, as a storyteller it’s your job to be a dick. It’s your job to fuck endlessly with the characters twisting beneath your thumb. And here’s 25 ways for you to do just that. 1. Gods have avatars, mortal or semi-mortal beings that exist on earth to embody the deity’s agenda. 2. The audience and the character must know the stakes on the table — “If you don’t win this poker game, your grandmother will lose her beloved pet orangutan, Orange Julius.” 3. Impossible odds are a powerful way to fuck with a character. 4. Drop the character smack dab between two diametrically opposed choices. 5. Give the character an untenable secret life: a forbidden romance, a taboo, a transgression. 6. This one? 7. 8. 9.

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