Blog Swap: Keeping Track of Plot Twists

Hi all! I’m doing what I call a blog swap today. I’m posting on DUO Says… on the topic of Keeping Track of Plot Twists. DUO is posting on the same topic on my blog. So today you get to read two different perspectives on the same thing. I must say that it was a lot of fun to see how different our posts were, so I definitely would love to do it again. If you’re interested, please let me know. ^_^ Take it away, DUO!


Avoiding Losing Track of Plot Twists

Compelling characters, complex plot twists, unexpected situations. Everyone loves them. So what happens if you’re writing a novel and get so into developing one plot thread that you forget the others? Or worse, neglect to link it back to the message or theme of your main story?

Plot twists can add great new dimensions to a story. Whether they’ve been pre-planned or have sprung up unexpectedly while writing, they add roundness and authenticity to a character or story sequence 

The challenge is for each plot twist to be realistic and move the story forward. If they’re random thoughts which don’t achieve this then they can be detrimental rather than beneficial. 

If done well, plot twists can also give the writer the opportunity to develop another novel altogether with characters that readers have gotten to know. This is what turns one novel into a potential trilogy, quartet, or long-running series. 

So is there a possibility to redeeming a novel if you’ve run off the boil and forgotten an essential twist? You’ve started it but not finished it? Left the character hanging with no satisfactory concluding? Absolutely. Everything can be rectified. As long as the novel hasn’t hit the line for its production run and is still on your laptop there’s no problem. 

However, being a firm believer that prevention is better than a cure, here are some tips that help me navigate the plot twist road before incorporating any into my story.

1. Keep a log of each new plot twist that springs up.

2. Make a note of which characters the plot twist will mostly affect and why.

3. Is the plot twist realistic? Will it add depth to the story? 

4. Make a note if any of the plot twists could develop a whole new story of its own.

5. If yes to number 4, will it be a strong enough premise for a new book.


Thanks so much for swapping blogs with me, DUO! It was fun. If anyone else wants to swap blogs with me for a day, please feel free to contact me at mishagericke(AT)gmail(DOT)com.

How do you keep track of plot changes and twists? Do you keep track of them?



 

 




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Lesson One from Stephen King

I’ve finally done it. I have managed to get my grubby little paws on On Writing by Stephen King. Been looking for it since forever, but just didn’t seem to find a copy.

But a few weeks ago, I meandered through the library shelves and there it was along with five (I think) other books on writing.

Sadly, revisions (and headaches) being as they were, I didn’t start  reading immediately. But last week my revisions ground to a halt and even though I did revise yesterday, something didn’t feel right. It felt as if for every spot that my internal editor pointed out, my inner critic was listing my writing weaknesses.

And fighting my inner crittic is best done away from my WiP, because the collateral damage can be significant.

So I dug through my bag, thinking that I’ll keep Mr. King for last. But then I thought… what the hell, I only have a little reading time. Might as well start in on the one I’ve been wanting to read.

Man am I glad. It blew me away. I’m not completely done, but I’m planning to finish it by this evening. I’m thinking that I want to spend one or two (or more) posts on sharing what I’ve learned. I hope that’s alright with you all.

The second thing (I’ll deal with the first on Thursday) that stood out above everything else was Mr. King’s emphasis on the need to read.

As I read that, I realized that I’ve actually been neglecting a vital facet to my writing. I have to read. Even if revisions and writing suck me in. Because if I don’t, I’m basically blunting my writing tools.

Bad books teach me the lessons. How NOT to do things. Good books give me something to aspire to. They show me the lengths that writing can go if given the scope to do so. If I don’t read either of the above sorts of books, I’m going to miss out on some vital information.

If I don’t read often, I’m basically making myself write blind. So doing, I’m robbing my muse of oxygen.

All in all, not a smart thing. Because my muse is usually the one that beats up my inner critic.

Lesson learnt, Mr. King.

I won’t be able to do six to eight hours a day, but I’ll be able to manage two to four. Already better than two to four hours a week.

Anyone else who read On Writing? Which lessons stood out to you?

How many hours do you spend reading?

Any topic suggestions?

Hello all! Once again, this post will be one where I ask you for your excellent ideas and suggestions.

In my attempts to reach out for a bit wider audience, I’ve offered to do let other people write posts here.  And while my topic ideas aren’t all that bad, they feel a lot like topics that I’ve covered more than once before.

I was hemming and hawing about this over the weekend when I got a clever idea.

I’ll ask you ladies and gents.

The way I see it, the best way to deliver the goods to my readers would be to ask my readers which goods they’d like to see.

So… now I’d love to hear from you:

What writing/editing/revision/literary world topics would you like for me to cover?

I’d love to hear from you. 🙂

Writercize

Hi all! Please welcome Alana to My First Book. She explains her blog, Writercize much better than I can, so I’m going to leave it to her. All I’m going to say is that it’s a great stop when you want some inspiration.



I have a confession to make.  This is my virgin guest blog post and I’m feeling a little nervous about writing it.  Call it blogfright, I suppose.  Strange, right?  I log in four days a week to post to my own blog; I leave comments on other blogs; I am a freelance writer always happy to see my byline, and yet writing a spot on someone else’s blog, their baby, is a little, well, unnerving.

So, that said, I’ll stick to my style and technique and hope that all of you Misha fans enjoy!  And participate(!), because you’ll be asked to answer a question in the end.  

First, a little background.  I author a blog called writercize, a portmanteau of the words write and exercise … with a spelling twist.  It’s basically a place for writers, teachers, students and people of all sort to practice their writing.  The slogan, if you will, reads: “exercises to inspire word play, hone the craft of the written word and bulldoze writer’s block for authors, bloggers, poets, freelancers, teachers, students, dreamers and writers of all kind.”

I write a mix of fiction, non-fiction, poetry and word play, so while thinking of what to focus on for this guest post, I wanted to nail down a topic that all writers can relate to.  That, I have decided, is people-watching.  Don’t cringe – you know you do it too!

Any writer worth their chops loves to observe people and draw conclusions based on how they are dressed or body language, maybe even listen in on snippets of conversation at Starbucks.  For a writer to compose a story, be it fiction or non-fiction, s/he must first understand human nature and interaction, for it is only with relatable characters that an audience will care, and only by engaging that audience’s interest that they will come back to read more.  What better way to create a character than to watch someone in real life and create their backstory?  

I find quirky or secretive types the most appealing.  I have to admit I’m also drawn to first dates; I find myself completely unable to turn down my close-range hearing when seated nearby a first date couple at a restaurant.  There’s so much at play – yearning, embarrassment, bravado, curiosity, fear, wonder, discomfort – it’s rare to find that same emotional combination in normal day-to-day life.  

When you see someone who piques your interest, imagine yourself interviewing the subject, but not the type of interview Us Weekly might write up.  Imagine interviewing the subject as an intimate friend or a paid psychiatrist, someone who is allowed access to the inner-most thoughts, desires and pains that person may have.

So, I will challenge you with a backstory writercize.  Here’s how writercize works – take a minute, or take five, to test out the writing exercise below, then share as a comment if you feel comfortable.  This is a no judgment thing; it’s not meant to be the next award-winning short story (though Kudos if you make it into one!) – it’s just meant to loosen your mind and get your fingers tap-tap-tapping away at the keyboard.  Here we go.

writing exercise:  It is 2 p.m.  A purposefully dressed but not entirely stylish woman walks briskly out of a hotel, glances at her watch and hails a taxi.  Just as the taxi driver pulls over to pick her up, her phone rings, one of those quick beeping rings, nothing fancy.  The woman reaches into her purse to answer, listens for a moment, drops the phone as her face turns white as a sheet, and waves the taxi along.  What is the story?

On my blog, I always leave a “writercizer sample response,” so I’ll do the same here.  If you want to play along without reading a sample, please scroll along quickly to the comment section now so that your thoughts aren’t spoiled by my take.

sample response:  When Monica walked into her bedroom that fateful morning seven months ago, she was shocked to find her husband in bed with someone else.  She was even more shocked to see that it was another man.  

Monica had been working the night shift at the hospital, where she was known to most as Nurse Mon.  She was supposed to work another hour or two, but she was getting older and the all-nighters were starting to wear on her, so when the morning came and the patients were just barely trickling in, she asked to head home for a bit of shut-eye.  All she had wanted was a little sleep, alone, in her bed.  Her husband should have been on his way to work, but instead, here he was, in the bed she wanted to sleep in, not sleeping, with this man.

Never one for infidelity, but generally one for manners and an open mind, Monica walked over to the bed she had shared with her husband going on 30 years, introduced herself to his lover, shook the stranger’s hand, turned to her husband and said with nary a stumble, “Well, you might have just told me that we were finished.  This is hardly the way to tell me, you know.  I’ll, umm, I’ll just be leaving now I suppose.”

She had then gathered her belongings and walked out the door.  After spending a few nights in empty hospital beds at work, one of the other nurses, whose husband managed a hotel nearby, told her that he was willing to put her up in the hotel for a good price, about the same as rent on a one bedroom, at least until she got herself together.  She wouldn’t have maid or room service, but she’d have a furnished room with a mini-fridge and all the utilities covered, and she would be just a few blocks from her work.  She’d been living there ever since.

Today was the day that she would head to the courthouse, sign the divorce papers, get a settlement, and begin to move forward with life, maybe buy herself a little home.  Not too big; she wouldn’t want to feel lonely by herself; she’d never slept alone in a building before after all.  At home she had her husband, then she was in the hospital where there were always patients and nurses and doctors and the hotel with other guests and hotel staff.  There were always people around and she took comfort in that.  She knew from working in a hospital that if disaster strikes, your chance of survival increases if there are people nearby to get you help quickly.

She checked her watch to be sure she was on time, hailed the cab and prepared to step in and face the crux of her past and her future, no more of this limbo business.  Just get this divorce over and done.  The phone rang.  It was the hospital and she answered.

“Monica, your husband, he’s here.  Heart attack when his lawyer picked him up to drive to the courthouse.  Might not pull through.  We’re going to do all that we can, but he just keeps mumbling that his heart can’t keep beating knowing that he’s lost you.  You’ve got to get down her now.  He needs you.  I know you’re not on the best of terms right now, but it’s life or death.  Come.”

Prepared to lose her husband to divorce, Monica had not considered losing him to death, and she was shaken to her core.  Her phone smashed to the ground.  She could hardly see the question in the taxi driver’s eyes as she realized he was still waiting for her, so she waved him along and tried to build up the courage to turn around and walk the four blocks from the hotel to the hospital.  As she walked, the seven months of betrayal and anger and confusion floated away and she could only think of holding his hand, stroking his forehead and promising him that things were going to be alright.



Thanks, Alana, for this interesting take on GPF! Now, ladies and gents, I have exactly three slots open. So if you still want to do a GPF post in this year, I suggest you contact me ASAP. My e-mail address is mishagericke(AT)gmail(DOT)com.

I can’t wait to see what you guys come up with from the prompt. ^_^ I’m leaving mine too. Have a great weekend!

Letting go of a goal so that I can go after a dream

A few days ago, I craved solitude. It would fade a little as I spent time in front of the computer, but it would come back with a vengeance until I decided yesterday to just stay offline for a day. I did nothing except knitting and watching T.V. in complete solitude. Did that help?

Well, yes, because it didn’t make the craving go away. It made me realize that solitude wasn’t what I’m craving. What I was craving, was change.

As much as I enjoy revisions and singing and drama, if that (and work) is all I ever do, I’ll go stir crazy. Well… more so than usual.

Once I realized that this was where my mind was at (my mind has a way of hiding these things), I started wondering what I could do to change this situation. Because heaven knows, it’s stopping me from getting anything else done.

As it happens, I’m not the only one feeling this way – my friend Theresa felt the same. We chatted about it and I mentioned that I would love to start a Fashion Label.

The moment it did, the name for said label sparked in my head.

So now I know why my mind wouldn’t even look at my WiP.

But yeah… starting a label will take some serious ass time. More than I even want to go into it in this post. And if I’m going to make the commitment to this, I’m going to have to cut back on my revisions.

Which means that my 31 July goal is impossible. So rather than run around like a headless chicken, getting nothing done, I’m just going to extend the goal in such a way that neither my revisions nor my Label will get in the way of my degree…

Here’s to my new venture. May it be a smashing success.

Anyone else starting something new?

Where do you get your ideas?

Cher Green, intrigued by the written word, has made it a life goal to bring her stories to life and share them with others. Cher writes in many genres, spanning from horror to romance. Her work has appeared in such magazines as, “Untied Shoelaces of the Mind,” and “Spinetinglers.” For more information on this author, visit: http://www.chergreen.com

Where do you get your ideas?

First, I’d like to thank Misha for inviting me to her blog. I’m delighted to be here. I’d like to talk about ideas and where they come from.

One of the most common questions asked of a writer is, “Where do you get your ideas?” The answers may vary from “Life” to “Dreams.” I’m sure every writer has his/her own answer to this, and it is sure to vary depending on the story.

My favorite answer to this question is ‘My Muse’. I get some strange looks with this response, but I’m sure you writers know what I’m referring to. She’s a touchy creature, expecting daily attention. Ignore her for a day, and she may disappear for a week.

I like to think of an idea as a seed. The seed may come from life, dreams, prompts, images, etc. After you plant this seed, the rest is done with sprinkles of imagination dust. The more you nurture it, the larger and healthier the creation will grow.

With my debut novella, Escape to Love, it all began with a free-writing session which centered on a woman, a portal, and an unseen man. It took a few days for the seed to sprout but when it did my main characters, Constance Spenser and Lawrence Wilder, came to life, and the main conflict became more than just a portal.

Roots, branches, and leaves grew, producing a tale of a woman searching for happiness, and a man determined to escape the clutches of his life. New characters appeared along the road of creation, the stakes grew deadly, and conflicts blossomed.

The creating of a story, for me, is very similar to growing a flower from a seed. The joy of watching it grow and produce buds is a wonderful feeling. Having others enjoy the sight is absolutely amazing.

Where do you get your ideas?

To learn more about my debut novella, Escape to Love, and read an excerpt from the book, visit my website. To purchase a copy, visit eTreasures Publishing. Take a stroll with me as I move along in my writing journey at my blog, Footsteps of a Writer. Hope to see you there.


Thanks so much for stopping by, Cher, all the best with your new book! So ladies and gents, if you want more information or to check out Escape to Love, here are some links:

My blog



Solitude

Today is just one of those days.

Where no matter what I do, what I eat, I feel… I don’t know.

And I don’t know why.

Yesterday was a wonderful day, spent soaking up the rare winter rays and visiting some of the most beautiful places in the region.

One would think that my writer’s soul is singing with glee. But no. Instead, I have this weight on my chest that I can’t define. Something like a combination of frustration and an intense desire to be alone.

Not just alone. Completely alone. That alone I get when I’m sitting at a restaurant without company. Or when I’m the only person in an entire movie theatre.

That alone.

Not lonely. Just… In my own space.

I feel bad when I feel like this, because I already push my family out when I’m writing with my earphones firmly on.

But all that does is make me even more aware of the fact that I’m with people.

And as bad as it makes me feel, I’m being stifled.

Slowly but surely. Because I know that if I were to mention the fact that I need to go somewhere to be alone, it will trigger arguments, wounds and recrimminations that only get to me more.

Maybe I should just wait for it to pass.

How do you deal when unexpected feelings press up against you?