creativity-block

Prompt # 146

“Don’t look at me like that! Say something, please!”

“I just found out my best friend and love of my life isn’t human and you’re criticizing me for being shocked?! What do you want me to say; ‘That’s nice honey, what do you want for dinner, pizza or tacos?”

anonymous asked:

My character is a patient at a mental Institute, and he meets this girl who works part time in a different area of the hospital. He doesn't want her to know he's a patient there in bc he's afraid of rejection, so what kind of coverups could he use for being there?

Ah I love this idea, it’s so clever! So firstly this reminds me of the movie ‘It’s Kind Of A Funny Story’ as both characters dress in scrubs to sneak up to the rooftop, so that might be one idea! I’ll see what I can do for you, it’s a super cute idea:

  • Visiting another patient in the mental institute.
  • Visiting another patient in any other ward- Sibling, parent, grandparent, girl/boyfriend (To make her jealous of course), etc.
  • Regular check-ups.
  • Physiotherapy.
  • Works there- Therapies, children’s nurse (Because come on, cute children’s nurse- who could say no?) doctor, surgeon (Is that being too ambitious?), receptionist, cleaner,  Health care professional, nutritionist, kitchen worker, etc, etc…

It’s a hard one, but I think your character could pretend to be any variation of these. When dealing with a mental health problem, we (from personal experience) will go to great lengths to feel even the slightest moment of happiness- in this case he may go to great extremes to make sure he is noticed. This could also come in the form of him creating elaborate lies to not seem odd. It also depends on the way they build their relationship and how often they see one another, what might their end-game be? I know this was rather vague, so feel free to message me if you’re looking for some more detailed ideas! Good luck, I’d love to have a read, lots of love from Yasmine xox

11 writing problems and solutions

Writing is a craft. It takes time for anyone to learn and improve. But there are some shortcuts you can try, maybe adapt to your own needs. Here are 11 writing problems and their solutions, or hacks.

Too many ideas syndrome

Problem: You have too many equally good story ideas and can’t pick just one to write.

Solution: Select your top 3 favorite stories and write the first scene of all three. If you can’t decide, write the first chapter. The right project will be easier to work with, you’ll have fun writing it, you will be daydreaming about the story, you will love the characters. So, give away three chances instead of one.

Originally posted by gypsyastronaut

Outline spoiling the fun

Problem: Whenever you outline a story idea, it completely spoils your will to write it. The mystery is gone.

Solution: Instead of outlining the whole story, just make a clear goal on how your characters should end. Will they succeed? Will they fail? Will they be happy? Will they find redemption? Will they be wronged? Decide how your story should end and explore the plot as you go. Remember, no one will read your first draft, so just write.

Lost midway

Problem: If you are a pantser, you might get lost in the middle of the story, especially after the first plot point.

Solution: Give your story an ending. If you know where your characters will end up, you’ll have a better understanding of which routes to take. Always keep in mind how the story will end. Use it as the beacon of a lighthouse to guide you through stormy waters.

Creative block

Problem: You don’t have story ideas. Or nothing you have so far excites you enough for a novel.

Solution: Read a book or watch a movie completely out of your genre. This works like magic, I promise. I’m not a sci-fi person, but Akira has given me more story ideas than any movie and book from my own genre.

Originally posted by sunio

Writing anxiety

Problem: You are scared of writing, scared of starting a new story, or just scared of not doing a good job.

Solution: Write a fanfic. No one expects a fanfic to be a masterpiece (although many are). Fanfics are done for fun and for passion. So, write your book in fanfic format. You can even use fandom characters and aus in the process. When the story is completed, change back to original characters.

Editing as you write

Problem: You keep going back to previous paragraphs and editing instead of moving forward with your writing.

Solution: Write your novel by hand. This might sound like a lot of work, but it’s quite the opposite. The white screen of the computer urges you to review, to make it perfect, academic like perfect. The paper however, brings you back to the craft, to the urge of filling lines and pages. Handwriting also gives you the opportunity of sketching and doodling. 

Originally posted by kyoka-sui-get-su

Procrastination

Problem: Tumblr. Youtube. Email. Netflix. Bathroom. Fridge. Bed.

Solution: Go offline. Turn off your wi-fi. Use a device without internet connection. Or, if you keep fooling yourself and turning the internet back on, write your novel by hand. Give yourself a daily hour of internet, but live offline. And if you take unnecessary trips to the fridge or the bathroom, try the pomodoro technique.

Lack of plots

Problem: Nothing relevant is happening, your story looks kind of boring. Or the main plot is too weak for a whole novel.

Solution: Take a few days off. Just relax. When you are ready to go back, read what you have written so far. Maybe you were just tired. But, if the story really sucks, go back to basics. Ask yourself two questions. What type of story am I writing? How will this story end? Follow the answer like a map. Change what needs to be changed, even if you have to delete the whole progress. If you lack plots, don’t add fillers, just go back to basics.  

Weak main character

Problem: Your character lacks personality, voice and/or visuals.

Solution: Give your main character three things. An external battle. An internal battle. And an unique feature. The external battle is their goal, what they want to achieve, what they dream about. An internal battle is their fears, traumas, doubts, mental issues, prejudices and triggers to overcome. An unique feature is what sets them apart from other characters, maybe they have piercings, or tattoos, or pink hair, or lilac eyes, maybe they wear neon boots, or a mask, or mittens, maybe they are left-handed, or blind, maybe they have a scar, or a birthmark. Every amazing main character has external battles, internal battles and unique features.  

Originally posted by takeruandcaterpillars

Depression

Problem: You have no will to write. The passion is gone. You feel empty.

Solution: If you don’t have access to medical help, reading is a good way to reevaluate your career and regain your passion for the words. Read lots of books. Don’t worry about writing, just read. Lose yourself in fictional adventures. Read sci-fi, romance, horror, fantasy, crime, family saga, classics, foreigner fictions, fanfics, shorts, poetry. Immerse in literature. Literature can save lives.  

Strange dialogues

Problem: Dialogues seem too formal, or too much like the narration, or characters lack individuality.

Solution: Read your dialogues out loud while acting as your characters. You can find a quiet empty room for that. Be an actor. Go for the emotions. Record your acting sections, after all, you might improvise at some point.    

Originally posted by gmt1999

The 7 Elements of a SCENE

There are few things as soul-crushing in the writing process (at least to me) than getting a bunch of characters in a room with the intention of something happening, then the characters proceed to stand around and stare at each other.  

Or worse, look at you like this. 

My characters didn’t know why they were there. I didn’t know why they were there either. I had no clue what they were supposed to be doing, so I’d start throwing random instructions at them: “Fight, characters! You guys should fight now! Maybe fighting will make this event have a purpose!” Which inevitably resulted in characters going through the motions of battle for no apparent reason, like they had all lost their minds.

What was the problem? I didn’t know how to write a scene. I didn’t know what a scene was. I had a vague definition that it was something about changing scenery, or just “something happening”.

It’s not. And once I learned what a scene was, my characters got to stop pummeling each other, while wishing they could pummel me. 

So what is a scene? 

The definition of a scene is kind of like the definition of a story. Story is change, a massive change in the life of your main character. A scene is change too, but much smaller, and part of that huge story change. You couldn’t have the BIG change without these tiny changes. Thus, a scene is not switching scenery. It’s not flipping to a new Character’s POV. It’s one segment of change, which triggers the next change, which triggers the next, which gradually build into sequences, which build into Acts, which build into story. 

So what goes into a scene? How does it work?

1. Alternating Charges

If a scene opens positive, it will turn negative by the end. If it opens negative, it will end positive. Simple. 

2. Character Goals

Everybody in a scene wants something. If they don’t want anything, they shouldn’t be in the scene. And these characters, with their often opposing goals, are going to employ different tactics on each other to get what they want. Which creates …

3. Escalating Conflict

Conflict is created when one character wants one thing and another wants something else, right? So the characters in the scene are each pushing for something different, each new tactic increasing in determination. And what are these actions called?  

4. Beats

The beats of a scene are exchanges of action and reaction. One character does something, another character reacts. All exchanges (beats) are pushing the scene onward, building tension and conflict, until finally …

5. Turns & Revelations

The scene turns. The positive has changed to negative. Something has been discovered. The story has spun in a new direction.

6. Connection to Story Objective

Every scene must be connected to the BIG goal of the story, the main character is taking small actions to reach that big goal. If it isn’t obviously connected to this big plot, it won’t make sense. Your reader won’t know why the heck they’re reading the scene. Which brings us to … 

7. Logic & Necessity  

Every scene must be necessary. It must be able to be linked with the previous scene. “Because that happened in the previous scene, THIS must happen in this scene.”

So! To see how that all works, let’s break down a scene from Tangled. (Because I used it in the last post to map out how a premise works, and my little writer heart can’t resist symmetry.)

Which scene? The one right after this happens: 

Opening Charge: Positive. She’s realized everything. 

Rapunzel’s Goal: Rise up against her mother – finally. 

Gothel’s Goal: Regain control.

Escalating Conflict: They’re fighting over who controls Rapunzel, and this battle causes them to go from “mother and daughter” to “enemies”. The conflict builds nicely in this scene, causing the story turn.

Connection to Story Objective: Throughout the movie, the big thing Rapunzel wants is freedom, she wants her life to begin, she wants to have a new dream. This is the moment she figures out how to do that; it’s not escaping the tower, it’s escaping Gothel’s control over her.

So! Here’s the scene.

Beat 1

“Rapunzel? Rapunzel, what’s going on up there?”

Ignores her. Still processing the tremendous implications of this revelation. 

Beat 2

“Are you alright?" 

"I’m the lost princess.” (Dumbfounded. Almost whispering it to herself.)


Beat 3

“Oh, please speak up Rapunzel! You know how I hate the mumbling.” (Bullying.)

“I am the lost princess! Aren’t I?” (Fighting back. She will not be bullied anymore.)

Beat 4

Gothel stares, stunned. She’s rendered temporarily speechless, because her secret’s been revealed finally, and her victim is actually fighting against her.


“Did I mumble, Mother? Or should I even call you that?” (Accusing. Drawing herself up taller. Looking down on Gothel and glaring. She’s seeing her clearly for the first time in her life.)

Beat 5

After a pause, thinking up a tactic. “Oh, Rapunzel, do you even hear yourself? How could you ask such a ridiculous question?” (Laughs. Ridicules. Attempts to make her feel childish, dumb, worthy of being mocked. Tactics which have always worked. She even begins to hug her.)


Rapunzel pushes her. “It was you! It was all you!” (Still accusing and angry, but pain is beginning to show. It’s almost like she’s giving her a chance to explain herself.)


Beat 6

“Everything I did was to protect you.” (And Gothel doesn’t say anything redeeming. She’s holier than thou, regal, bestowing kindness on an ungrateful, stupid child. Trying to control through guilt.)

Rapunzel rams her out of the way. 

Beat 7

“Rapunzel!” (Shouting. Now trying anger.)

“I’ve spent my entire life hiding from people who would use me for my power …” (Leaves her.)

Beat 8

"Rapunzel!” (Still trying the anger angle.)

“But I should have been hiding from you.” (Throwing the truth at her.)

Beat 9

“Where will you go? He won’t be there for you.” (She’s tried everything else. It’s time to attack her heart.)

“What did you do to him?” (Fear)

Beat 10

“That criminal is to be hanged for his crimes.” (She’s keeping up the disapproving mother act, but striking her right where it will hurt her most.)

“No.” (She’s stopped. Shrinking in on herself. Staring, horrified. And Gothel thinks she’s won.)

Beat 11

“Now, now.  It’s alright. Listen to me. All of this is as it should be.” She goes to pat Rapunzel’s head, a gesture symbolic of her superiority, her physical, mental, and emotional control over her victim.


Rapunzel grabs Gothel’s wrist. “No! You were wrong about the world. And you were wrong about me! And I will never let you use my hair again!" 

Beat 12

Gothel wrenches free, stumbling backwards in shock and anger, breaking the mirror in the process. 

Rapunzel walks away. She’s escaped Gothel emotionally now.

Beat 13

"You want me to be the bad guy? Fine. Now I’m the bad guy.” (Well, now emotional control is over. It’s time to start stabbing Rapunzel’s boyfriend.)

This action has no reaction, interestingly. It leaves us hanging, a cliffhanger created with only beats. 

Closing Charge: Negative. She’s now a full-fledged villain, the motherly persona shed, and she’s determined to get what she wants whatever the cost. 

Turn: It changed from positive to negative,  and now we’ve got a Flynn-stabbing witch to deal with.  

Revelation: She’s always been evil. She has always been the bad guy. The motherly act was just that, an act. 

Logic & Necessity: This scene fits with the previous scene, and the one that follows.     

Though I’ve seen these concepts in many books, the place I first learned about it (and the best resource for scene design in my opinion) is the book Story by Robert McKee. It’s helped me countless times, is one of my favorite books on storytelling, and I highly recommend it if you write anything.

I realize that these definitions were a little vague, so I’ll be explaining things more thoroughly in subsequent posts. 

Prompt # 142

“Well that was overkill.”

“No. That was style. Something you clearly lack.”

10 WRITING EXERCISES TO BEAT BLOCK!
  • 1. Go out to a public, but not overly crowded place and take a notebook with you. Remain there for 10 minutes writing down random overheard snippets of conversation. Afterwards, choose an interesting piece of dialogue and use it as your first line/stanza.
  • 2. Visit a thrift store or market and find 5 items that interest you. For each item imagine the kind of person that would own it and create a character based on it. Write about that character.
  • 3. Take a bunch of small pieces of paper, and on each one write a word that you like. Then, draw 3 words at random and try to incorporate them into a short piece. This can be anything as long as all 3 words are included. You could also try using a random word generator.
  • 4. Visit a library, and pick out 5 book titles that interest you. These can be fiction, non-fiction or both. Write a scene inspired by one of these titles.
  • 5. Pick up a book you haven't read. Look at the title and front cover. Write the story based on these alone. (Literally reading a book by it's cover)
  • 6. Pick out a random book from your personal book shelf. Open it onto a random page and pick out a sentence from this page. This is your opening line / stanza.
  • 7. Find a random page in any book, or any piece of paper with writing on it. Highlight every single noun on the page. Pick out a few of these nouns. Write 3 sentences personifying each noun. The first sentence should start with "I am the _____ ...."
  • 8. On a bus or in the back seat of a car, look out of the window at road signs. Write down words or entire phrases from road signs, and use one of them as the title for a short piece.
  • 9. Go to a clothing store and pick out a t-shirt. If the t-shirt has a slogan on it, use it as your first line/stanza. If the t-shirt has images on it then base your piece on the image.
  • 10. Turn on the television or watch a long YouTube video. Write down pieces of dialogue that are memorable to you. Choose one and write a scene around it.
Creating plots with the zigzag method

I’ve learned this method years ago and I’ve been using it ever since. The zigzag plot creator starts like this: 

A crescent zigzag. 

You can have as many up and downs as you want. I’ve drawn six to keep it simple. Alright, this zigzag is your storyline and every corner is an important event that will change everything:

Every down represents a bad thing happening to your main characters, taking them further away from their goal. Every up is a good event, taking them closer to their goal:

So, when the zigzag goes down, something bad must happen. When the zigzag goes up, something good must happen. The reason why we drew a crescent zigzag is because every down must be worse than the previous, and every up must be better than the previous. As the zigzag advances, events become more serious and relevant. 

Let’s apply the zigzag method. My storyline is a detective trying to catch a serial killer in a futuristic city. Minutes later, this is what I’ve got:

Start: Detective, our protagonist, is just promoted

Down #1: Mass suicide happens in town, detective gets the case, the whole town thinks it might have been a religious suicide act, but detective suspects that someone single-handed killed all those people

Up #1: Detective finds clue about a possible killer

Down #2: A bigger mass murder happens, a true massacre, it’s a definitely a murder

Up #2: Detective finds the killer’s trail

Down #3: Thinking he is ahead of time, close to catching the killer, detective ends up dead in another mass murder

Up #3: Because of his notes and discoveries, the police is able to find the killer before they leave town

From this point on you can play with zigzag as much as you want. For example, changing the orientation of the zigzag for a bad ending:

Lots of ups and downs:

Or just a few:

It’s up to you (see what I did there?).

You can plot any type of story with the zigzag method. It’s a visual and easy process for a very complex task.

The Element EVERYTHING in Your Story Needs

To all the writers who have ever felt lost, alone, and completely confused during the labyrinthine journey that is writing anything, and felt like screaming this at your story …

There’s hope.

There’s a light at the end of that darn tunnel. First, let me describe how I used to fight my way out of these periods of confusion and hopelessness. 

Usually, I would try to force myself to get back into the groove of the story. I would reread it, and be yelling at myself in my head, “Remember why you love it! LOVE your book again! Keep reading and FALL IN LOVE, damn it!” I’d go over descriptions, bits of dialogue, banter between the characters. I’d go over settings and imagery, and try to make myself remember how much they’d once excited me. I’d read things that had made me laugh when I typed them, sentences that I was particularly proud of, paragraphs that made me feel particularly clever. But the thing was, it didn’t work. 

I didn’t care.  

What was the problem? The problem was some of those descriptions, settings, images, and witty episodes of bantering had no Story Reason to be there. They were just there because they amused me. Just because I found the imagery beautiful. Just because I found a sentence or joke really clever and wanted to share my wit with the world. But the world didn’t care about my wit. Because the world (the people reading my book) knew subconsciously that there was no story to give that so-called witty sentence substance and meaning. I could create the most breath-taking images, I could make the most well-rounded living and breathing character, I could make a setting that you wanted to run away from home and live inside … and it didn’t matter. If the thing didn’t have a purpose for being there within the narrative, nobody cared. And I didn’t either. 

So what is a Story Reason? 

Everything in a story exists to support one of three things. 

1. The A-story: The surface plot, the quest of the main character to achieve a specific tangible goal. What the story is about on the surface. 

2. The B-Story: The love story, or relationship of the thing. Usually this relationship is instrumental in causing the third element, which is …  

3. The Character Arc. The theme of the story, the purpose, the piece of truth the story seeks to prove to the main character and the audience. 

If something in a story doesn’t contribute to the progress of these three, there’s no reason we should care about it. It has no point. Because in the end, all we care about is the story!

When it comes to scenes, story reason means continuity. It means the way the story unfolds logically. If every scene is there for a darn good reason, the scenes after and before will make total sense, they’ll connect seamlessly, a steady progression of events. Every scene’s turn triggers the next scene. 

And to do this, every scene must be able to be linked with three words: Because of that.

Because of the turn of one scene … 

The next scene happens. 

And because of the turn of that scene the next scene happens.

To illustrate how this works, let’s look at a small movie you might have heard about called Zootopia. (Thanks to @inked-withlove for the movie suggestion!)

So let’s start at this point, the turn of the scene with Clawhauser and Judy searching the file on Emmitt Otterton. 

Turn: “I have a lead." 

Because of that …

Judy has to get Nick to tell her what he knows about Otterton.

Turn: It all goes poorly, and now Nick and Judy are stuck together by an incriminating adorable carrot recorder. (The B Story, the relationship, has intertwined with the A Story.)


Because of that …

Nick takes Judy to the place he saw Otterton go, a place he thinks will cause her to give up. 

Turn: She doesn’t quit, she marches right in. (B Story: Nick sounds surprised, and a little impressed, that she didn’t back down.)

Because of that … 

She has to question a rude yoga-performing elephant. 

Turn: Though the elephant is absolutely no help, the seemingly addled yak is more than helpful – he even remembers the license plate number of the car Emmitt left in. 

Because of that …

Nick thinks his part in this endeavor is complete. But Judy remembers that she’s not in the system yet, and thus can’t run a plate. Nick, however, can. And he’s going to, or else. 

Turn: It just so happens that he has a pal at the DMV. 

Because of that …

Sloths. He takes her to a DMV run by sloths and wastes as much of her precious dwindling time as he can.

Turn: “It’s night?!”

Because of that …

Legitimate Enterprise Car Service (at least that’s what it’s called in the screenplay) is closed. Judy doesn’t have a warrant and Nick is enjoying her suffering tremendously. After a spat, she tosses the carrot over the fence instead of handing it to him.

Turn: Because she has now seen a shifty low-life climbing the fence, she has probable cause, and doesn’t need a warrant. She can go in. (B Story: Nick is looking at her with more respect.)

Because of that …

They find the car and begin investigating. The car is a crime scene; claw marks everywhere, the missing otter’s wallet … and a cocktail glass etched with a "B”.

Turn: And it all adds up for Nick. This car belongs to Mr Big, a notorious crime boss. And his polar bear henchman are right outside. They grab Judy and Nick and yank them off screen. 

Because of that  …

Judy and Nick are wedged between the bear henchman, on their way to face Mr Big. 

Turn: Nick sold him a very expensive rug that happened to be made from the fur of a skunk’s butt. Or in other words, Mr Big really doesn’t like Nick.

Because of that …

They wait fearfully for Mr Big to appear, and even when he’s revealed to be a tiny shrew, Nick still launches into obsequious and panicked mode. He tries talking his way out of it, but Mr Big really REALLY doesn’t like him. And when Judy shouts at him that she’s a cop and she has evidence on him –

Turn: “Ice ‘em.”

Because of that …

“No icing anyone at my wedding!” Fru Fru Shrew is not a happy camper. Father and daughter bicker about his promise of no murder on her wedding day, and the fact that “I have to, baby. Daddy has to.” Until – 

Turn: “She’s the bunny who saved my life yesterday. From that giant doughnut!” Well, Judy is now in Mr Big’s good books. He’s going to pay her kindness forward. Nick is floored. 

I’m gonna stop there.

SO! After going through that analysis of how the scenes are linked together, let’s abandon the “everything needs a story reason to be in there” rule, and see what happens. 

After the scene where Judy and Nick reluctantly join forces, we could add a scene where Nick is trying to remember the name of the place, and where it is. Then we could have them asking around, searching the city, refusing to ask for directions, lots of banter. THEN we can finally get to The Mystic Springs Oasis.

And after they get the plate number, maybe Nick grabs the carrot pen and makes a run for it. Then we can have a chase scene, but he gets away. Then we can have Judy trying to run the plate on her own, before realizing she isn’t in the system, and failing. Then we can have a scene where she has to track down Nick again. Then a scene where she figures out how to blackmail him into it. THEN they finally get to the DMV. 

And you know what would have happened then?

Zootopia would have made everyone bored. 

All of these inserted scenes are unnecessary. Sure, they might add conflict, add complications to Judy’s quest, but they’re ultimately just filler. They’re just there for the sake of bulking out the story. This is why that tip I hear so often in writing circles always perplexes me: “Figure out the worst possible thing that can happen to your character, then do that.” If people went with this rule, they’d just keep throwing terrible things at the characters for no apparent reason, one after another, and the reader or audience would be expected to be entertained by it (but wouldn’t be). It would be like cartoons before Mickey Mouse came along and applied story to animation: before, cartoons were just gag after gag, slapstick situations mashed together like a funny video compilation. Except with books and movies, it would just be conflict-heavy situations strung together, taking an inordinate amount of time to make any actual progress.  

Once you make sure everything has a purpose within the narrative, things get so much better.  And I find, when I reread my work I don’t have to scream at myself to “love your book or else” if everything has a reason for being there. And instead of feeling like yelling at my story like an angry overworked crab, I feel a lot more like this gif.

I hope it works for you too.

Writer’s Block Be Gone Spell

A spell to bring you inspiration and remove annoying writer’s block.

Originally posted by kyoka-sui-get-su

You Will Need:

✏ Yellow Candle(s)
✏ Agate
✏ Apatite
✏ Paper
✏ Pen or Pencil
✏ Fire Safe Dish/Bowl
✏ Bay Leaf

Steps:

✏ Clear your work space, cleanse the room if needed. Place your candles about you or if you only have one, place it near you.

✏ Place your agate and your apatite to either side of one of the candles

✏ Place your plate or bowl before you and place your bay leaf into it

✏ On your paper write “Writer’s Block” and begin scribbling it out saying “you are banished” repeatedly until satisfied. Put your frustrations and anger into this.

✏ Carefully use your candle to light the paper aflame and place it into your bowl/dish on top of the bay leaf. Let them burn themselves out. While this happens focus on how they are being burned out of your life, like a big wall burning down and setting you free.

✏ Take the ash and throw it out or flush it

✏ Keep your candles lit and return to brainstorming and your writing. When you start to feel stuck again, look at your candle and hold your gemstones in each hand and take a few breaths before continuing.

Note: this is a spell that uses fire and burning, please use proper care and fire safety

anonymous asked:

Usually when you write a story you start with the plot idea, and then you proceed with the characters and the setting, right? Well, I did the exact opposite, and now I've got very defined characters and settings, and absolutely no idea about what am I supposed to do with them. Do you have any advice for me? <3 (P.S. English is not my first language, if anything is incorrect, I'm sorry ^^;) (P.P.S. I love your blog <3)

Hello, thank you for sending a message.

You don’t have to create a story by it’s plot. There’s no right or wrong in writing, no rules, just techniques (that might or might not work for you). Once, a friend of mine said: to write a novel, you create a set of characters, and you throw them in a fictional world to fend for themselves.

At first, I was a bit shocked.

But my friend explained: All characters, no exception, are just trying to fulfill their needs. Do you know the Maslow’s hierarchy of needs?

Characters must be somewhere in that pyramid, from wanting basic needs like food and shelter (The Walking Dead, for example) to needing success and personal growth (Eat Pray Love, for example). Take Romeo and Juliet for example, two teenagers estranged from their families. They need belongingness and love (third in the pyramid), so they bet their own lives to get that. This is the beauty of using the Maslow’s hierarchy as guidance… it makes plot so clear and obvious. 

My advice is: place your main character in the pyramid. 

Knowing what your main character needs, go on and create a plot on how they will fulfill that need, depending on how desperate they are to achieve it (the lower the need is, the more desperate characters must be). And that’s it.

By the way, don’t worry, English is not my first as well. :DD

The 1 Thing Your Scenes MUST HAVE

Sully is a good representation of how I want people to react when enthralled by a story I’ve written:

But more often than not, I get a reaction more like this:

Or at least, I did. I couldn’t understand why my writing produced these less-than-stellar responses. I had meticulously worded every sentence. I’d made sure there were exciting parts. I had parceled out backstory, setting, and exposition so the reader could understand what the heck was going on. So why did eyes glaze over while reading my book? Why did MY eyes glaze over while reading my own work? 

The problem, I finally found out, was that my scenes didn’t turn. 

I was cramming all that exposition in right out of the gate, so the reader knew absolutely everything … which meant there wasn’t anything to find out. The scenes were just tiny chronicles where the main character set out to do something and accomplished it with flying colors. Nothing ever happened that surprised him. And consequently, nothing ever happened to surprise the reader.  

I wasn’t withholding information, and revealing it methodically. 

I wasn’t letting the story spin in new directions. It was always chugging along the straightforward track where I’d dropped my reader.

I wasn’t letting my scenes TURN.

To illustrate what I mean, here’s an example of a great scene with a great turn from a wonderful movie: Beauty and the Beast

*Opening music that makes me want to cry from how beautiful it is*

Beat 1:

“Once upon a time, in a faraway land a young prince lived in a shining castle…” (Action: Apparently the world takes action to make sure this prince lives a cushy existence.)

“Although he had everything his heart desired, the prince was spoiled, selfish, and unkind.” (Reaction: And he acts like a brat anyway.)

Beat 2:

“But then, one winter’s night, and old beggar woman came to the castle and offered a single rose in return for shelter from the bitter cold.” (Action)

“Repulsed by her haggard appearance, the prince sneered at the gift, and turned the old woman away.” (Reaction)

Beat 3:

“But she warned him, not to be deceived by appearances, for beauty is found within.” (Action)

“And when he dismissed her again …” (Reaction)

Beat 4:

“The old woman’s ugliness melted away to reveal a beautiful enchantress.” (Action)

“The prince tried to apologize …” (Reaction) 


Beat 5:

“But it was too late, for she had seen that there was no love in his heart. And as punishment, she transformed him into a hideous beast and placed a powerful spell on the castle, and all who lived there.” (Action)

“Ashamed of his monstrous form, the beast concealed himself inside his castle, with a magic mirror as his only window to the outside world.” (Reaction)

Beat 6:

“The rose she had offered was truly an enchanted rose, that would bloom until his 21st year. If he could learn to love another, and earn their love in return, by the time the last petal fell, then the spell would be broken. If not, he would be doomed to remain a beast for all time.” (Action)

“As the years passed, he fell into despair, and lost all hope.”  (Reaction)

“For who could ever learn to love a beast?”

Turn: The 6th beat is the turn. The story has spun in a new direction, the direction the WHOLE STORY will motor towards. 

Revelation: There’s the big one of the scene turn, but I love how every action and reaction in this prologue feels like a revelation. Each one feels like it could be a scene on it’s own, but it’s told in a just few words, with beautiful imagery. There’s no fluff in this, nothing unnecessary, everything is perfectly needed. (Sorry, I just really love this opening. I can remember sitting in my little wicker rocking chair when I was four watching this in awe. This movie is one of the reasons I’m story obsessed.)

NOW let’s remove all curiosity and surprise from this scene. 

We’ll take away the atmosphere of “all is not as it seems”, the “seeking and learning significant information” feeling, the sense that we’re climbing to something significant. Instead of withholding and revealing snippets of information, after gradual beat-by-beat escalation of curiosity, we’ll dump all information right away. We’ll take this beautiful scene, and make it distinctly not a scene by removing all traces of a turn.

So! The purpose of this “section” of story is to communicate necessary information. What info? The guy used to be a terrible prince. Someone cursed him to be a beast. His castle and the people who live there are also cursed. He’s got a rose that will bloom until he’s 21. He’s supposed to fall in love with someone and get that person to love him back.  Or he’s going to be a beast forevermore. So, let’s give it a whirl.

Let’s say it opens up on Lumiere and the Beast. They’re just hanging out in the West Wing, the Beast watching the rose sparkle, Lumiere extinguishing and reigniting his left candle/hand for something to do.

LUMIERE: “So Master, it’s been years since you were turned into a beast and the castle staff was turned into objects.”

BEAST: “Yup.”

L: “I wish you hadn’t have upset that enchantress, and been a bit kinder.”

B: “Me too. Don’t know how.”

L: “Now our only hope to return to our human forms, is if you fall in love and get that person to fall in love with you.”

B: *Noncommittal grunt*

L: “Better happen soon, before that last petal on the magical rose falls. When you turn 21, it’s going to fall. And if you haven’t learned to love by then, well, we’re stuck.”

B: “I’m aware." 

L: "Yup.”

B: “Yup.”

Well, that was extraordinarily awful. 

So what about these scenes is different? (Besides one being a work of art and the other being agony in text form.) 

– One withholds information and reveals it slowly, turning the story at the end. 

– One is just an info dump. 

So how can a turn be accomplished?  There are four types of turns: 

– Surprise

– Amplified Curiosity 

– New Insight

– Spin in New Direction

A SURPRISE turn is the difference between what the character expects and what actually happens, surprising them, surprising the reader/audience that is enthralled by your story. A CURIOSITY turn is when a new mystery is presented to the reader, increasing their drive to find out what happens next. An INSIGHT one is when a scene ends by solving a mystery, answering a question that the audience has been wondering about. And a SPIN is just that, a turn that jolts the story into a new unexpected direction.

And how do they work in a scene? 

The turn happens at the end. It’s the point of the scene. Everything’s leading to it. Think of it as the period punctuation mark on the end of the sentence that is your scene. But really your reader is anticipating that turn throughout the scene.
It’s this anticipation and “gradual illumination” that’s crucial to a story turn. This is the wonderful curious feeling that keeps us turning pages. That sense that “all is not as it seems, and if I keep reading I’ll find out the truth.” which is so intoxicating. And this is accomplished with beats, the exchanges of action and reaction, each acting like a escalation on a roller coaster, each increasing anticipation for the drop. 

Turns and revelation anticipation are rather magical when you think about it. They really are (as Robert McKee says) the substance of story. (Or they’re magical to me. I said I was obsessed. Blame this movie!) 

Now I’m going to go watch Beauty and the Beast again.

Start telling the stories that only you can tell, because there’ll always be better writers than you and there’ll always be smarter writers than you. There will always be people who are much better at doing this or doing that — but you are the only you.
—  Neil Gaiman
Creating plots for your story

You feel like nothing is happening in your story. It’s lukewarm and dull. You are getting bored, the characters are getting bored, you have no idea what to do next… or even if you should rewrite the whole thing.

If so, this post will help you find new plots and subplots for your story.

Originally posted by find-a-reaction-gif

The secret of finding plot is exploring possibilities. Most of the time, we settle for the first thing that comes to mind. Creating is not easy, it’s time and energy consuming, so we avoid it the most.

But there’s a shortcut… and that is: Listing.

Making lists is great way to discover ideas and find new paths for your story. Plus, it’s quite fun. Let’s start with a few basic lists.

- Create a list of dreams your main character could have

- Create a list of bad things that could happen to your main character

- Create a list of special physical features for your main character

- Create a list of places your main character could live in

Now, let’s jump into more detailed lists.

- Create a list of places within your fictional world

- Create a list of dreams for your antagonist

- Create a list of objects relevant to the story

- Create a list of realistic situations within your fictional world

- Create a list of feelings related to the story

- Create a list of  psychological issues your main character could go through

- Create a list of fears your main character could have

- Create a list of childhood memories for your main character

You can create your own list prompts as well. And also apply them to specific genres. For example, romance.

Originally posted by viktvr

- Create a list of common interests

- Create a list of places for a first kiss

- Create a list of bad things that could set them apart

- Create a list of dynamics

- Create a list of common goals

Once your lists are done, go back, read them all over again. 90% will be rejected, but 10% will shine in your eyes with fresh plot opportunities. Pick the most interesting items and create plots around them. These lists will also get you closer to the characters and the fictional world.