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. Although the cover appears to be on the verge of falling off altogether, I’ve risked opening the book once more to bring you Watts’ very useful “Eight-Point Story Arc” – a fool-proof, fail-safe and time-honoured way to structure a story. (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: So, what do the eight points mean? Stasis Trigger The quest Surprise Climax Reversal
11 Secrets to Writing Effective Character Description The following is an excerpt from Word Painting Revised Edition by Rebecca McClanahan, available now! The characters in our stories, songs, poems, and essays embody our writing. They are our words made flesh. Here are 11 secrets to keep in mind as you breathe life into your characters through description. 1. It reads something like this: “My father is a tall, middle-aged man of average build. This description is so mundane, it barely qualifies as an “all-points bulletin.” When we describe a character, factual information alone is not sufficient, no matter how accurate it might be. 2. It’s hard to think of adjective descriptors that haven’t been overused: bulging or ropy muscles, clean-cut good looks, frizzy hair. 3. In my earlier “all-points bulletin” example, the description of the father’s hair might be improved with a detail such as “a military buzz-cut, prickly to the touch” or “the aging hippie’s last chance—a long ponytail striated with gray.” 4. 5. 6. 7. 8. 9. 10. 11.
Guy Hasson's Blog - Story Design Tips: Better NPC Interaction, Part II The following blog post, unless otherwise noted, was written by a member of Gamasutra’s community. The thoughts and opinions expressed are those of the writer and not Gamasutra or its parent company. Towards Better NPC’s This is the second in a series of three articles, which will hopefully lead to richer NPC interactions, interactions that looksmore human. The first article talked about redefining NPC interaction by treating a dialogue line as an action (positive or negative) of one character on another. Doing Away with Dialogue Trees, Not Dialogue Before we begin, I’d like to clarify a point about the last article. The whole point is this: The player knows what kind of information or action he wants to get, and he chooses how to try and get the information out of the NPC (intimidate, befriend, sweet-talk, etc.) Now we’re getting to how that system should work. The Basic Build-Up of the NPC Step #1: Create a Personality for Your NPC Say you’re creating a new NPC. Our Example
Write a Plot Outline: Infographic | Now Novel Learning how to write a plot outline is an essential skill if you want to become a prolific author. Whether you find the distant target of reaching a substantial word length or the creation of a satisfying, forward-moving plot daunting, if you write a plot outline for your novel in advance you will have a blueprint that you can alter if necessary as you go. Our previous post on the subject suggested 7 ways you can outline your novel. We’ve since converted this information into the handy infographic below. Click image to view full size Once you have your outline written, the matter of writing your first draft remains. The Hero’s Journey Kansas University’s Gunn Center for the Study of Science Fiction has a useful page featuring a number of infographics that expand on the mythologist Joseph Campbell’s plot structure theory, ‘The Hero’s Journey’. 10 Rules for Writing First Drafts Click the button below for free top tips for writing a novel Embed This Image On Your Site (copy code below):
Writing Characters Using Conflict & Backstory Seven Steps To Creating Characters That Write Themselves Creating characters that are believable takes time and discipline. Creating dynamically real individuals and not imposing your own thoughts and impressions upon them is not easy to do, and is often the difference between a novel or screenplay that sits in a closet and one that finds its way around town and into the hands of audiences. Spending your time building your characters before they enter the world of your story makes the process of writing an easier and more enjoyable ride, and creates a finished product that agents, publishers, producers and readers can truly be excited by. You must first agree to operate from the understanding that the three-dimensionality of your characters is not created magically. The complexity that you desire comes through: 1. The first key to deepening your work is finding the major motivators in the lives of your characters that drive their actions. 2. 3. 4. 5. Emotions are extreme. 6. 7.
Character Action and Reaction October 20, 2011 by Fiction Editor Beth Hill last modified October 20, 2011 I’ve written a lot about characters at The Editor’s Blog, but I’d like to take a deeper look into character reaction, the response of a character to the actions or words of another character or to a story event. A character’s reactions can reveal facets of his personality that cannot be revealed by action or dialogue initiated by that character. Reactions reveal issues that mean something for a character. If a character goes after the man who’s gone after his dog, readers know that the dog means something special to that character or that he is possessive/selfish, unwilling to let others touch or hurt what belongs to him. When a character responds to the actions or words or intentions of another character, the reader notices. Writers direct readers into key revelations by showing character response. A character does not need to reveal his response overtly to other characters, of course. How Characters React
6 Ways to Create Riveting Conflict in Your Story Who says conflict is a bad thing? Who says world peace is the most important goal of humanity? Who says arguing with your little brother when you’re a kid means you’ll grow up to be an ill-mannered ruffian? Not a writer, that’s for sure! Arguably, the single most important tenet of fiction can be summed up in the saw “no conflict, no story.” You can break every rule in the book (pun intended) and still have a whopper of a tale—so long as you remember to throw a dash of conflict in your story. The simple fact is: fiction has its very basis in conflict. So how does one go about manufacturing this most precious of story ingredients? 1. This is the easiest (and, often, the best) way to throw a little conflict in your story. 2. Many stories base their entire premise on this idea (think of the Pevensie siblings tumbling through the wardrobe into Narnia in C.S. 3. 4. 5. 6. Stories are about balance. Tell me your opinion: What is the chief source of conflict in your story?
How to Pick Character Names: The 7 Rules of Choosing Names for Fictional Characters Choosing a character name for your novel is as pressure-filled as picking a name for a baby. It has to suit the character’s personality, makes sense for the era and, most important, be super awesome (sorry friends, the awesome name of Brian A. Klems is already taken by this guy). I stumbled upon these seven great rules for choosing character names offered up by popular mystery writer Elizabeth Sims (the Rita Farmer Mysteries). This guest post is by bestselling author and writing authority Elizabeth Sims. 1. It’s better to call a character Caleb, which means “faithful” or “faithful dog,” than to overkill it by naming him Loyal or Goodman—unless you want that for comic/ironic purposes. 2. If you need a name for an 18-year-old shopgirl in a corset store in 1930s Atlanta, you know enough not to choose Sierra or Courtney, unless such an unusual name is part of your story. 3. Your novel might become an audiobook or an e-book with text-to-speech enabled. 4. 5. 6. 7.
NPC Characterization Like my simulationism page, this page attempts to provide advice based on my own experiences, mentioning specific games wherever possible. It starts off with things that I consider easiest, and works up to the most obscure. Other excellent places to look for NPC coding advice are Roger Firth's Inform NPC tutorial InfAct, the collection of Inform library contributions for NPCs, and Onyx Ring's tips for conversation implementation in Inform. For TADS, there's Michael J. Also, if you're wondering: this page has changed considerably since its first introduction. The Purpose of the NPC Before you code anything, you should figure out what kind of game you are writing, and what purpose you have for the NPCs who will appear in it. Even within a game, different NPCs can have different roles from a gameplay perspective. The answers to these questions will affect the rest of your NPC design. Characterization in Absentia Memory. Evidence. Overheard Conversation or Observed Action. Back to Contents