Welcome back to another Monday of writer’s links here on No Wasted Ink. This week are mainly articles about book blurbs, blogging, and character descriptions. There is a little bit about the fate of reading in the modern era to tickle your fancy. I hope you enjoy them!
I had the pleasure of appearing as a panelist on a new video podcast series for writers by YouTuber and author Andy Peloquin. My episode is entitled: How to Write a Good Book Review.
For around 30 minutes, three of us discuss writing reviews for blogs, what constitutes a good review on Amazon for authors and other writery goodness. I hope you’ll stop by and subscribe to this new series on YouTube.
As we here in America prepare for our Thanksgiving Holiday, time to get away and read a few articles might be difficult. However, I am going to tempt you with a “top ten” that might make you pour a cup of coffee and have a quick sit down. Be safe if you are traveling this holiday and eat plenty of turkey!
There are essentially three kinds of writers – planners, pantsers (no planning – making it up as you go along) and ‘tweeners (those who are somewhere between the two). But there is something all story writers should have on completion of their novel or short story – a plot.
So what exactly is a story plot? It is a literary term used to describe the events that make up a story or the main part of a story. These events relate to each other in a pattern or a sequence. The structure of a short story or novel depends on the organization of events in the plot of the story.
A plot is the foundation of a novel or short story which the characters and settings are built around. It is meant to organize information and events in a logical manner. It is the mechanism which should make the story work, or connect with readers. The experience of reading a story should transport and move the reader.’
Readers, when they start a story, whether consciously or not, ask questions such as, “What is this story about?” “Is anything happening?” “Why should I keep reading?” And “Why should I care?”
There are five main elements in a plot:
The first is the exposition or the introduction. This is the beginning of the story where characters and setting are established. The conflict or main problem is introduced as well.’
The second element of a plot is known as the rising action which occurs when a series of events build up to the conflict. The main characters are established by the time the rising action of a plot occurs and at the same time, events begin to get complicated. It is during this part of a story that excitement, tension or crisis is encountered.
The third element of a plot is known as the climax or the main point of the plot. This is the turning point of the story and is meant to be the moment of highest interest and emotion. The reader wonders what is going to happen next.’
The fourth element of a plot is known as falling action or the winding up of the story. Events and complications begin to resolve and the result of actions of the main characters are put forward.
The last element of a plot is the resolution or the conclusion. It is the end of a story and ends with either a happy ending, a tragic ending or perhaps, an ambiguous ending where something is both won and lost.
Some people maintain there are really only seven basic plot types. However, there is an author, Georges Polti, who wrote a book called The Thirty-Six Dramatic Situations which suggest there can be as many as thirty-six different types of plot. (After the hyphen in each case suggested main character types are listed for each plot model)
- Supplication’- Persecutor, Suppliant, a Power in Authority
- Deliverance’- Unfortunates, Threatener, Rescuer
- Revenge’- Avenger, Criminal
- Vengeance by Family upon Family’- Avenging Kinsman, Guilty Kinsman, Relative
- Pursuit’- Fugitive from Punishment, Pursuer
- Victim of Cruelty or Misfortune’- Unfortunates, Master or Unlucky Person
- Disaster’- Vanquished Power, Victorious Power or Messenger
- Revolt’- Tyrant, Conspirator(s)
- Daring Enterprise’- Bold Leader, Goal, Adversary
- Abduction – Abductor, Abducted, Guardian
- Enigma’- Interrogator, Seeker, Problem
- Obtaining’- Two or more Opposing Parties, Object, maybe an Arbitrator
- Familial Hatred’- Two Family Members who hate each other
- Familial Rivalry’- Preferred Kinsman, Rejected Kinsman, Object
- Murderous Adultery’- Two Adulterers, the Betrayed
- Madness’- Madman, Victim
- Fatal Imprudence’- Imprudent person, Victim or lost object
- Involuntary Crimes of Love’- Lover, Beloved, Revealer
- Kinsman Kills Unrecognised Kinsman’- Killer, Unrecognised Victim, Revealer
- Self Sacrifice for an Ideal’- Hero, Ideal, Person or Thing Sacrificed
- Self Sacrifice for Kindred’- Hero, Kinsman, Person or Thing Sacrificed
- All Sacrificed for Passion’- Lover, Object of Passion, Person or Thing Sacrificed
- Sacrifice of Loved Ones’- Hero, Beloved Victim, Need for Sacrifice
- Rivalry Between Superior and Inferior’- Superior, Inferior, Object
- Adultery’- Deceived Spouse, Two Adulterers
- Crimes of Love’- Lover, Beloved, theme of Dissolution
- Discovery of Dishonour of a Loved One – Discoverer, Guilty One
- Obstacles to Love’- Two Lovers, Obstacle
- An Enemy Loved’- Beloved Enemy, Lover, Hater
- Ambition’- An Ambitious Person, Coveted Thing, Adversary
- Conflict with a God’- Mortal, Immortal
- Mistaken Jealousy’- Jealous One, Object of Jealousy, Supposed Accomplice, Author of
- Faulty Judgment’- Mistaken One, Victim of Mistake, Author of Mistake, Guilty
- Remorse’- Culprit, Victim, Interrogator
- Recovery of a Lost One’- Seeker, One Found
- Loss of Loved Ones’- Kinsman Slain, Kinsman Witness, Executioner
If you have written a story and then you find you can’t summarize it in one, or perhaps two sentences, then you can be absolutely sure your story is missing a plot.
A one-sentence plot is also called a line plot, and you can’t write one without including a major conflict. That conflict is the heart of the plot. Here are a couple of examples –
Harry Potter And The Sorcerer’s Stone’by J.K. Rowling
A boy wizard begins training and must battle for his life with the Dark Lord who murdered his parents.
Lord of The Rings by J R R Tolkien
A hobbit must take an evil magic ring of power to the land of the dark lord in order to destroy it, while his friends create a diversion.’
The plot is what forms a memory in the readers’ mind, allowing them to think about the book and even making them want to read it again. By identifying and understanding the plot, the reader is able to understand the message being conveyed by the author and the explicit or implicit moral of the story.
So a plot is the telling of a story, not the source of it. Once you have sympathetic characters with human needs facing a compelling conflict, then you have a story. The plot comes out when you tell that story. Plot is a storytelling tool, not an end in itself.
English born and bred, as well as having learned the usual stuff at school, A.E. Wilcox has also been taught ballet, music, art and design. Now, she is an aspiring writer.
Apart from writing, she loves the sea and history. She likes drawing and doing artwork. She bakes, designs and decorates celebration cakes. She is handy with a sewing machine. Wilcox enjoys traveling abroad as often as she can.
Author Dana Hammer is a writer, a housewife, a blood and guts enthusiast, and a lady. She hopes you enjoy her writing. When I heard her read from Rosemary’s Baby Daddy I was laughing so hard I about rolled on the floor. I’m excited to introduce this upcoming author here on No Wasted Ink.
My name is Dana Hammer, and I’m introducing myself to you. It’s hard to know where to start with this sort of thing, because I don’t know who YOU are. Maybe you’re the kind of person who just wants the facts, ma’am, and you just want to know, like, where I live and how old I am and stuff. But maybe you’re a more curious sort, and you want to know my favorite movies and what my hobbies are. Or maybe you’re a creep and you just want to know if you can have a pair of my used panties. In order to cover my bases, I will answer all of those questions, in order.
- I live in Anaheim.
- I am 34 years old.
- My favorite movies are Kill Bill, Dirty Rotten Scoundrels, Django Unchained and I Heart Huckabees.
- My hobbies are: writing, enjoying art of varying quality, reading the profiles of prospective adoptive couples online and judging their suitability as parents, and birding.
- No, you cannot.
I hope this has been informative!
When and why did you begin writing?
I’ve always written little things here and there, mostly to amuse myself when I was bored. I started writing in a more serious way when I worked in finance, because I hated that job with my whole heart, and writing kept me sane.
When did you first consider yourself a writer?
Honestly, not until I published my first book. Though I fully subscribe to the notion that a
writer is a writer both before and after publication.
Can you share a little about your current book with us?
Sure! It’s called Rosemary’s Baby Daddy, and it’s a comedic fantasy novel about a woman
named Lori who gets impregnated with a demon’s baby. She decides to abort the baby to hide her infidelity from her husband, but then the abortion clinic gets destroyed by a freak lightning storm. From then on, all kinds of crazy events happen.
Meanwhile, the father, the demon Pazuzu, can’t stop meddling in Lori’s life. He knows he’d be a really terrible father, but he can’t help himself; he’s always wanted a baby. In addition, he has to somehow protect his baby from his ex-girlfriend, Lamashtu, who is the demoness responsible for baby death.
What inspired you to write this book?
I had a terrible, terrible pregnancy. Pretty much anything you can think of that can go wrong with a pregnancy – yeah – that happened. So I wrote this book to cheer myself up.
Do you have a specific writing style?
I like to think of myself as a concise, direct writer. If you want a lot of purple prose and
descriptions of the sky, I’m not your gal. My goal is to tell a story and to entertain you, and I hope my style helps me to achieve that.
How did you come up with the title of this book?
Actually, I didn’t. I was having a lot of trouble with that, and a friend of mine, Rhiannon
Aarons suggested “Rosemary’s Baby Daddy”. At first I was like… my character’s name isn’t Rosemary. But then I was like, so what?
Is there a message in your novel that you want your readers to grasp?
I don’t know that I’d call it a message, but there is a definite theme, or “moral”, if you will. Basically, this book is a metaphor for how pregnancy (and new parenthood) throws your life into total disarray. You behave in ways and associate with people you never thought you would. You’re shocked at what you’re willing to sacrifice, and what changes you’re prepared to make, in order to be a good parent. Your body becomes a strange, alien thing that you don’t even recognize. You start to care deeply about things you never gave a thought to before; like which preschools in your area have Mandarin immersion programs and which restaurants have high chairs. It’s trippy.
Are experiences in this book based on someone you know, or something from real life?
Not really. I was pregnant when I wrote this, but Lori is nothing like me. Oh, and I’ve never had sex with a demon.
Although,there is one part that was loosely inspired by real life. One day, when I was about four months pregnant, I was sitting in my living room and I heard this really strange squawking. It was birds, but not any birds I’d ever heard around here before. So I went outside and saw a FLOCK OF PARROTS. In Anaheim! Right outside! I thought I was going insane! Then I found out that there are actual flocks of wild parrots in Orange County; mostly former pets that have escaped from homes. But this incident was sort of the inspiration for the scene in the book where birds attack Lori’s house.
What authors have most influenced you? What about them do you find inspiring?
I read a lot of Stephen King and Edgar Allen Poe during my formative years, and I still love
them both. I’m not sure if my fondness for dark subjects was something I learned from reading them, or if I read them because they spoke to my pre-existing fondness, but either way, they are both quite inspiring to me. I love any writer who isn’t afraid to embrace subjects that many people might find scary or unpleasant.
I also love Christopher Moore and Douglas Adams. Their madcap, quirky and hilarious stories make me super happy. If I could be any writer in the world, I’d be one of them. If I work really hard, maybe someday I might be worthy of fetching Christopher Moore a cup of coffee or polishing Douglas Adam’s tombstone, but I’m not there yet.
Is there a writer you would consider a mentor?
I wish! If a really great author wanted to mentor me, I would be so excited, I wouldn’t be able to contain myself. It’s all I would talk about. I would name drop endlessly, and eventually, my poor mentor would get sick of me and probably take out a restraining order against me, and that would be the end of the mentorship. But thus far, no one has reached out to me with the offer. If I could choose my mentor, no question, it would be Christopher Moore. But there are literally dozens of writers I would love to have as mentors, too.
Who designed the cover of your book?
Sheryl Sopot from Hyperchick Design did my book cover. I chose her because she’s
awesome, and we’ve been friends for years.
Do you have any advice for other writers?
Yes. Be independently wealthy. Failing that, marry someone who will support you financially while you write. You need to have free time if you’re going to write a book; you can’t be spending all your time at an office doing spreadsheets. Also, read a lot. It makes writing a lot easier. Also, alcohol is your friend. Unless you’re an alcoholic. Then candy is your friend.
Do you have anything specific you want to say to your readers?
Thank you for reading my book! I really hope you enjoy it.
Rosemary’s Baby Daddy
Cover Artist: Sheryl Sopot