Death’s Apprentice Writing Experiment – A Review of my work so far.

Now I’ve written a fair chunk of the beginning of Death’s Apprentice, I thought it would be a good opportunity to review what I’ve learnt so far.

I’ve written thirty parts of the story at this point and, I have to say, it’s been a thoroughly enjoyable, if a little scary, experience.

The Good Points:

I like how this whole experiment has opened me up to a new way of writing a novel. I have never pantsed a novel before. Pantsing doesn’t mean pulling down someone’s pants. In writing it’s used to describe a way of writing which isn’t plotted. A pantser writes by the seat of his or her pants, with no fixed outline. The story develops as you write it. This is also known as winging it and whilst I’ll admit to winging a lot in my life, I have never winged writing. Until now!

It’s not necessarily stretched my imagination because I had a very vivid imagination anyway, but, it’s made me think on my feet.

I’m not a rigid plotter but I do like having some sort of destination fixed in my head. I don’t write in chronological order but write the parts that appeal to me as I’m plotting. If I become stuck in the plot I go away and think about it, write another scene and let the problem tumble around in my head. With Death’s Apprentice, I haven’t been able to do that and it’s forced me to confront the plot issues as they happen. I’ve found this both challenging and rewarding.

The Bad Points:

I feel out of control of the writing. In a way this is liberating but also has taken me out of my comfort zone.

I feel that I don’t really know who Joe is yet, although he does keep surprising me with his actions.

Sometimes, it’s quite daunting sitting in front of a blank screen, knowing that I’ve got to write something because it’s Wednesday. I haven’t had writer’s block so far, so that is a good thing (thank heavens for that!). I’m sure there will be a stumbling block at some point, but I’ll deal with that if it happens.

I haven’t been reading all my work before I write the next section. I usually refresh my memory with a brief look at the week before’s post. Now I’ve done a review of the story so far, I can see I’ve somehow changed from the first-person viewpoint to third! That’s not too much of an issue though, as that can be sorted when I’m editing. Although, it does leave me with the question of which point of view I should use for the narrative.

It’s hard knowing that my mistakes are there for everyone to see. My writing isn’t polished and some of it is downright crap, lol!!

In Summary:

I like where the story is heading so far. It’s been a challenge, but one that I’m enjoying in a masochistic kind of way. I’m enjoying where it’s taking me, but I know that sometimes, my writing isn’t necessarily the most exciting because I am struggling to write some parts. It’s helping me to let go and write a little freer. It’s helping me to become less of a perfectionist.

What do you think of Death’s Apprentice, so far? What’s boring you? What do you think is good? More importantly, what’s bad? What’s grinding your gears? Where can I improve?

Let me know 🙂

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So, You Wanna be a Writer? Five things you need in Act Two of your novel.

In the post, Five reasons why the three-act structure is for you (see it here), I explained that act two corresponds with the middle of your novel.

Act Two is where the hero takes action. Here are five key ingredients that the middle of your story needs:

One – Challenges that the hero must face

The hero can’t have it easy. There have to be lots of obstacles put in their way because, if there wasn’t, what would be the point of reading it? It would be pretty boring, wouldn’t it?

The challenges don’t have to be life and death scenarios. It’s best if there are plenty of highs and lows to the second act. Usually, the challenges facing the hero at the beginning of the second act begin to test character but don’t have serious consequences. That’s not to say they aren’t difficult, just that they don’t have a life or death outcome. Slowly the tension builds in act two so that by the end of act two the hero is at his lowest point.

man in blue and brown plaid dress shirt touching his hair
Photo by Nathan Cowley on Pexels.com

Two – A world that is different from the ordinary world of Act One

The ordinary world of act one is where we meet the hero and where the hero is inactive. The special world –  in which the hero enters after the triggering event at the end of act one – must challenge the hero. It must be different and allow the hero to be tested and, in turn, change.

Don’t forget that the hero isn’t used to this new special world. They have to learn new rules.

Three – Be aware of the theme of your story

As I explained in my post, five things you need to do in act one of your story, your novel will need a theme that runs through the whole of it.

There will be an underlying theme or message to your story. This is an idea that runs through the whole of the novel. The message could be, for example, “crime doesn’t pay,” or “love conquers all”. It gives the story cohesion.

You must keep this in mind as you write act two, making sure the theme is a thread that runs through the whole of your story. If you don’t, the story won’t gel properly and won’t have the cohesion it should have.

Four – avoid a saggy middle

There is a danger in act two that your writing will fall flat and become boring if the action isn’t dynamic. The hero must face challenges but they can’t all be easy. There has to be highs and lows and, as the story continues, the tension needs to rise until the hero is at his lowest point at the end of act two.

Remember that the second act is just as important as the beginning and end. Take time over it and don’t rush. Also make sure that the message of the story, for example, Revenge is self-destructive, runs through the entire length of the novel.

Keep your focus, keep the writing tight and make sure you don’t meander. There has to be a momentum, a reason why the character has to keep on going, no matter the cost.

Five – Make sure you include a crisis

At the end of act two, the hero has to be at his lowest point. He has to face a crisis. This is a plot point which throws the hero into act three.

The crisis can be the hero facing his greatest fears, the end of a relationship, or he can be near to death as he is brought to his knees by whatever hostile force is facing him.

The crisis is the main event of the second act. It is the point to which everything in the story leads before it emerges the other side allowing for the hero to change.

 

Is there anything else you’d add to this list?

So you wanna be a writer? Five Reasons Why The Three Act Structure is For You

Okay, today’s post is going to focus on The Three Act Structure and why it’s great for everyone, especially newbies.

Reason One – It’s Simple!

The Three Act Structure is probably the simplest way of plotting a story. There are other ways to plot stories but sometimes the different methods can get a little complicated.

Every story has a beginning, middle and end and it doesn’t take a scientist to work out that each of the three acts corresponds to one of these parts in the story.

Act One is the beginning of the story, the place where we meet our hero; an introduction. The technical term for this is stasis. Stasis means a period of inactivity or equilibrium. Our hero is inactive, going about his business as he usually would until he is called into action when a triggering event happens. Basically, act one is setting the story up for the action that follows in acts two and three.

woman standing on road
Photo by Pedro Sandrini on Pexels.com

Act Two is the middle of the story, the quest, the action of the story. Our hero crosses the threshold and sets off on his quest. Sometimes, this is called the confrontation part of the story.

Act Three is the resolution, that is, all the consequences that follow the action of act two. The hero is now in a new world and must learn how to live in it.

So, in basic terms:

Act One is the beginning: The hero deciding to act on a goal.

Act Two is the middle: The hero takes action.

Act Three is the end: The hero must face up to the consequences of that action.

Or, even more simply put;

Act One: The hero decides to act.

Act Two: The action itself.

Act Three: The consequences of that action.

Reason Two: It’s a great guide especially for newbies!

The three-act structure can be broken down further, like this:

Act One:

Stage One – The set up

Stage Two – New Situation

Act Two:

Stage Three – Progress

Stage Four – Complications and Higher Stakes

Act Three:

Stage Five – Final Push

Stage Six – The Aftermath

You don’t need to break your story down into these extra sections if you don’t want to, but if you’re struggling to find ideas for what to write next you could use this as a guide.

For example, in act two we need the hero to make some progress but he can’t get everything his own way. There have to be obstacles in his path which gradually become harder to overcome. There are highs and lows but by the end of act two things should be more intense. Even though our hero has made good progress there will be complications and higher stakes so, by the end of act two, the hero should be at his lowest point.

The three-act structure can keep your story on track.

man in blue and brown plaid dress shirt touching his hair
Photo by Nathan Cowley on Pexels.com

Reason Three: It’s Flexible!

Because it’s so simple, it’s very flexible. It can be used as a guide for many different mediums. Want to write a screenplay? You can use the three-act structure. Want to write a novel but don’t know where to start? Use the three-act structure.

black ball point pen with brown spiral notebook
Photo by Tirachard Kumtanom on Pexels.com

Reason Four: It’s a great place to start!

Because it’s so simple and flexible, it’s a great place to start learning how to structure a story. There are other ways of structuring but one can often become lost when researching these because they have so many different parts to understand. These days the three-act structure is often seen as a stifling way to write a story, that it’s old fashioned and boring.

I disagree. Once you get to grips with the three-act structure it makes it easier to understand the other forms of plotting. The three-act structure is a good starting point, a great springboard into discovering new ways of structuring. It’s one more tool in the writer’s toolkit.

Reason Five: It helps manage the unmanageable!

You’re new to this writing malarkey, right? You want to write a novel and you have all these ideas swimming around but you don’t know where to start plotting, so you don’t. It’s too much. It’s too overwhelming.

Well, the three-act structure is perfect for you. As I said above, the three-act structure is so easy and flexible it will allow you to tame the beast, so to speak. As a newbie, you can become very overwhelmed with the idea of plotting. Like, where tf do I actually begin? Where does this section go? Okay, so my hero’s been called to action, what next?

The three-act structure allows you to give your thoughts some cohesion, some structure, As I said, it allows you to manage the unmanageable.

It won’t be easy. Writing a novel can be scary and overwhelming. Do it anyway. Use the three-act structure to begin your own adventure.

Good luck!

 

 

 

 

 

Short Writing Prompt

Time for another short writing prompt. This time it’s a picture:

red and white lighthouse on land
Photo by Tom Swinnen on Pexels.com

Okay, so here comes part one of the writing prompt:

Part One:

Write a six-word story to accompany the above image.

Part Two:

Pick a number one to ten, then look below in the list to see what genre it corresponds to. Write a five-hundred-word story relating to the picture within that genre!

  1. Horror
  2.  Romance
  3. Sci-fi
  4. Crime
  5. Western
  6. Fantasy
  7. Fairy Tale
  8. Dystopian
  9. Action Adventure
  10. Comedy

Part Three:

Write another five-hundred-word story in any of the above genres using the first picture as a start point but include this teapot in the story:

clear glass teapot
Photo by Kristina Paukshtite on Pexels.com

Good Luck!!

A Short Writing Prompt

Sometimes it’s good to get out of your comfort zone and try something new. This prompt is so random that it’s great for getting your creative juices going!

So, take a book, any book, fiction or non-fiction, and turn to page thirty-eight. Go to the fourth line and write down the first full line of text you come to. This is your springboard into your next piece of writing. Either use it as the starting point of your story (the inspiration) or split it up and use the words in different parts of your text.

For example, the book next to me is Robert Galbraith’s Lethal White. The fourth line on page thirty-eight is:

“They discussed money for five minutes.”

As Lethal White is crime fiction I would probably try and change the genre too. So, maybe I would try and think of a story that’s a comedy, or maybe a fantasy.

Please note though, the book you’re using was written by someone else and it’s their intellectual property so no plagiarising or copying guys! You’re using it only as a prompt.

What have you come up with?

 

So, you want to be a writer? A writing Prompt.

The best thing to do when you first start out writing is to write.

Simple right?

Ha! If only. As Ernest Hemmingway said, “There is nothing to writing. All you do is sit down at a typewriter and bleed.”

I don’t want you to bleed. Really, no I don’t. I hate blood (insert puking emoji here).

Anyway, because sometimes finding inspiration is hard in the beginning I’m giving you a short prompt that you can finish. Grab a pen, a notebook, or your laptop and try to finish this story:

My grandfather was a pilot in the war and he was trained in emergency landings. Apparently, in times of trouble, “you should pick a nice spot to land, but don’t get too picky, you probably won’t have the luxury of time.”

He always said to me as I was growing up that this had proved most useful advice, and that he had applied this logic to most things in his life; his job once he was de-mobbed, his house and, unfortunately, for Gran, his choice of wife. That’s not to say he didn’t love her. In fact, he came to worship the ground she walked on and even had her name, Flo, tattooed on his right buttock (don’t ask, that was one story he wouldn’t confide in me) but, as he used to tell me as we sat in the garden as he was preparing the blood mix for his prize roses, sometimes, you’ve just got to make a decision and not think about things. Apparently, it had served him well over the years.

Not that it was the same for Gran. Let’s not think she’s a victim here. She told me, and, often him to his face that, “she couldn’t bloody stand the man.”

It occurred to me the other day….

 

Must just give a shout out to my writing mentor, David Calcutt. This was inspired by a writing workshop I attended where we had to find a book and use a quote from it to inspire us.

The quote was, “Pick a nice spot to land, but don’t get too picky, you probably won’t have the luxury of time.” Taken from The Indiana Jones Handbook – The Complete Adventurer’s Guide (by Kiernan, D., and D’Agnese, J., Quirk Books, 2008).

 

Learning New Things

So, this morning I’ve been learning something new. I’m learning to sew using a sewing machine. I’m quite proud of myself as I’ve managed to make a tote bag which is actually a bag!!! 🙂 It’s a functional, fully operational bag. I am quite amazed at myself (ha ha)!!!

So here it is:

Sorry, my photography skills suck! The bags okay though 🙂

It’s not of a good enough standard to sell but I’m really not that bothered as I love the fabric so will be more than happy to keep it!! Was that the idea all along….???

Probably!

Anyway, the main point of this post is don’t be afraid to try new things! 

What’s the worst that could happen?

I’ve really enjoyed today and I’ve made something that I’m really proud of.

Here’s something else I’ve made this week:

It’s a resin bag charm or keychain with a secret faux pearl. Find it here on Etsy.

Today is a good day!

Hope your day is going well too 🙂