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Posts tagged ‘Australian novelist’

Different Types Of Plot In Fiction, by Kate Forsyth

I’m sure you’ve all heard people say that there are only so many possible plots in the world. Some say there’s only three. Some say there’s only seven. For my own amusement and edification, I’ve collected them. Now I share them with you:

Only One Plot:

It is said that there is really only one plot – the resolution of a problem.

This rests on the basic plot structure described in the following, canonical sequence of events: Exposition – Rising Action – Climax – Falling Action - Denouement

Image

Two Plots:

The novelist John Gardner used to say “There are only two stories: A man goes on a journey, and a stranger comes to town.”

Three Plots:  

In The Basic Patterns of Plot, William Foster-Harris, a professor at the University of Oklahoma contends that there are three basic patterns of plot:

  1. Type A: happy ending
  1. Type B: unhappy ending
  1. Type C: ambiguous or inconclusive ending

Seven Plots:

In his book, The Seven Basic Plots, Christopher Booker outlined a theory that there are seven key plots, which may be used in combination with others. This book is one of my own personal favourites, and I recommend it highly. In short, they are:

1) Overcoming the Monster – tale of conflict typically recounts the hero’s ordeals, an escape from death, and ends with a community or the world itself saved from evil.

2) Rags to Riches – Cinderella, The Ugly Duckling, David Copperfield, and other stories that tell of humble, downtrodden characters who manage to overcome all obstacles to rise in the world.

3) The Quest – a hero travels on a quest to save his world and secure some kind of priceless treasure.

4) Voyage and Return – The protagonist leaves normal experience to enter an alien world, returning after what often amounts to a thrilling escape. The Odyssey, Robinson Crusoe, and Alice in Wonderland are examples of this plot.

5) Comedy – confusion reigns until at last the hero and heroine are united in love.

6) Tragedy - the anti-hero spirals down deeper into darkness and despair, with all ending grimly

7) Rebirth - any story that pivots on the symbolic or actual death and rebirth of a character. Examples include Snow White, and Dostoyevsky’s Raskolnikov.

20 Plots:

The following come from 20 Master Plots by Ronald B Tobias:

  1. Quest
  1. Adventure
  1. Pursuit
  1. Rescue
  1. Escape
  1. Revenge
  1. The Riddle
  1. Rivalry
  1. Underdog
  1. Temptation
  1. Metamorphosis
  1. Transformation
  1. Maturation
  1. Love
  1. Forbidden Love
  1. Sacrifice
  1. Discovery
  1. Wretched Excess
  1. Ascension
  1. Descension.

36 Plots:  

Finally, we have Georges Polti who wrote a book called The Thirty-Six Dramatic Situations (translated by Lucille Ray). Although I find the following of interest, I think it’s a little too complicated and hard to remember.

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 Mistake

Faulty Judgement – Mistaken One, Victim of Mistake, Author of Mistake, Guilty Person

Remorse – Culprit, Victim, Interrogator

Recovery of a Lost One – Seeker, One Found

Loss of Loved Ones – Kinsman Slain, Kinsman Witness, Executioner

***

Kate Forsyth’s author website: www.kateforsyth.com.au

Kate Forsyth’s bio page

***

United States (and beyond)

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United Kingdom (and beyond)

    

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Writing Teen Novels
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My Writing Process For ‘The Wildkin’s Curse’, by Kate Forsyth

Writing a novel is a big undertaking. It takes about a year or more, usually, and lots of problems, both little and large, present themselves along the way.

I have learned to trust the process and to know I’ll receive help when I need it. Sometimes the way the answer comes to me is very mysterious and magical.

The best example is what happened to me one morning early in the writing of my teen fantasy novel, The Wildkin’s Curse.

I’ve described in an earlier post how the idea came to me with the image of a boy falling from an impossibly tall crystal tower and the fragment of a prophecy, ‘Next shall be the king-breaker, the king-maker, though broken himself he shall be.’

It’s not much to work with.

I began, as always, by asking myself questions. Who was the boy? Why did he fall from the crystal tower? Had he been climbing it? Trying to get inside? To rescue someone? Who? A girl? Why was she locked away?

Slowly I built up my cast of characters – Zed and his best friend Merry, children of the heroes of The Starthorn Tree; Rozalina, the wildkin princess kept imprisoned because she has the power to make wishes (and curses) comes true; and her cousin, Liliana, determined to rescue her and calling upon Zed and Merry to help.

Then I was stuck. I had absolutely no idea how my three heroes were to rescue the wildkin girl from that crystal tower.

I also had no thematic structure for the book.

I have never really liked fantasy books where the heroes just wander about having typical fantasy-style adventures (i.e. attack by monster in lake, misadventure while eating stew in roadside inn) until, at last, they battle for whatever it is they are trying to get. I have always believed a story is like a sword – it must have a point.

So I always build my story very carefully, with each adventure or encounter having some kind of importance in the over-arching themes and symbolism of the story.

In The Gypsy Crown, Emilia and Luka must search for, and find, a talisman in each book in order to try and fix a broken charm bracelet. Each charm has some kind of meaning, linked thematically to the lesson the children must learn, and the cost that must be paid, before they can win the charm. For example, in ‘The Silver Horse’, Emilia must give up her beloved mare Alida to another Gypsy clan in return for them giving her their lucky horse charm.

Similarly, in The Wildkin’s Curse, I wanted each obstacle my characters overcame to have some kind of symbolic significance as well as a practical function in propelling along the plot. I had been puzzling over this particular problem for some time, but had not yet worked out a solution.

I could not sleep one night for worrying about this problem. I got up in the early hush of the dawn and went walking, something I do often when I am puzzling over a problem. It was a pale, misty dawn, and the harbour shone silver where the sun was rising. I strode along, thinking, ‘how can they rescue Rozalina? How?’

Suddenly a raven took to the air, right in front of me, its wings so close I felt them brush past my face.

A black feather dropped at my feet.

I bent and picked up the feather.

A feather, I thought. Perhaps they have a cloak of feathers… perhaps it is damaged… it’s missing seven feathers… each one from a different bird… a raven, symbol of death and wisdom… they could find that feather at the end of a tragic battle scene… an eagle, symbol of power and royalty… perhaps they must climb a dangerous cliff to find it… a nightingale, symbol of true love… a tender romantic scene late in the book… when my hero and heroine kiss for the first time… I walked faster and faster and faster, my mind leaping from one idea to another. By the time I got home I had my entire novel fully plotted out. I sat down and worked feverishly, writing it all down in my notebook.

I had my method of rescue, I had my thematic structure. All because a raven dropped a feather at my feet.

***

Kate Forsyth’s author website: www.kateforsyth.com.au

Kate Forsyth’s bio page

***

United States (and beyond)

The Puzzle Ring   

United Kingdom (and beyond)

    

Australia (and beyond)

The Gypsy Crown (Chain of Charms)The Starthorn TreeThe Tower of Ravens (Rhiannon's Ride)The Puzzle Ring     RooftopCode Name VerityHappyface

Writing Teen Novels
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Creating Life-like Stories For Novels, by Kate Forsyth

A writer must learn to watch, listen and learn from life, in order to create the illusion of life in their work.

Go out with your notebook and pen to explore and experience. Catch a bus or a train, sit in the park or in a café, wander the streets or go to an art gallery, a museum, a skateboard park or anywhere that catches your fancy. Watch. Listen. Jot snatches of dialogue. Write quick word sketches of people:

- how they sit

- how they eat

- how they dress

- how they behave when in company, and

- how they behave when alone.

Begin to develop stories around them. Wonder about their lives. Imagine motivations for their behaviour. Why do they talk, move, think and act as they do?  Feel free to let your imagination run wild.

Quick character sketches like these can be a great way to amuse yourself while bored waiting in a doctor’s surgery or for a ferry.

Over time you’ll build up pages of them that you can use when actually writing a novel. Train yourself to be observant and notice nervous mannerisms or interesting tics – do they always wear red shoes? How do they like to eat their eggs?

Obviously a character sketch like this only reveals personality by externals, but it’s amazing how much we can infer just from those visual clues.

The great strength of a novel, of course, is that we have dialogue, action and interior monologue to help us delineate characters as well as their visual appearance.

The more you try and get inside people’s heads, and imagine what they think and feel, the easier it becomes.

I always begin a novel by thinking about my characters, and what role they play in the story. In general, most novels contain a cast of characters whose roles can be summarized as following:

- the hero (or protagonist)

- the villain (or antagonist)

- the romantic interest (or two – I do like a love triangle!)

- the companion or sidekick

- the mentor

- the circle of friends and allies

- henchmen (the villain’s circle of friends and allies)

- complications

- clowns

- animal friends

- secret friends and hidden enemies

- the sacrifice

Of course, sometimes one character will take on more than one role. Often the buddy will also be the clown, for example, or he may act as the sacrifice. The animal friend can actually be a robot, a coconut with a face drawn on it or a rag doll. The romantic interest may prove to be a hidden enemy, or the villain may end up being a secret friend.

I assemble my cast of characters – I give them names and faces, and then I begin to daydream them into life. I wonder about:

- their motives

- their key character traits (impulsive and quick-tempered, or slow to anger but slow to forgive?)

- their great strengths

- their great weaknesses

- what sort of clothes do they wear

- what kind of food they like

- how do they move – are they quick and agile, or slow and clumsy?

- how they speak (dialogue is extremely important when delineating character).

Often strengths and weaknesses are different points on a spectrum of the same character trait, for example a generous-hearted person who thinks the best of everyone may sometimes not be a good judge of character.

Then I always begin to wonder about the two great driving forces of any personality:

- what do they FEAR most

- what do they DESIRE most?

I also consider:

- how will they grow and change throughout the story?

- what lessons do they need to learn?

The other thing that is also really important to remember is that the character’s outer journey must always be reflected by the inner journey They must learn something with each ordeal faced and each obstacle overcome. The true narrative arc of any story is the protagonist’s growth towards self-realisation and wisdom.

***

Kate Forsyth’s author website: www.kateforsyth.com.au

Kate Forsyth’s bio page

***

United States (and beyond)

The Puzzle Ring   

United Kingdom (and beyond)

    

Australia (and beyond)

The Gypsy Crown (Chain of Charms)The Starthorn TreeThe Tower of Ravens (Rhiannon's Ride)The Puzzle Ring     A World AwayThe Night She DisappearedMy Brother's Shadow

Writing Teen Novels
www.writingteennovels.com

Writing ‘Wicked’ Villains, by Belinda Dorio (guest post)

Have you tried to write a villainous character before, only for them to become stereotypically creepy, gaunt looking and slightly pathological? Never fear! Many of us have been there before.

In my opinion, a villain should never ever be pure ‘evil’, and good books will blur the lines between the typical ‘good’ and ‘evil’ –ness of its characters. Is your character evil or mean – just ‘because’? Then you’ve got a case of a very un-relatable and usually unbelievable villainous character. Movies will often fall prey to this – especially ones adapted from comics – however, some overcome it and manage to pull off a great villain.

Think ‘Two-Face’ from the film The Dark Knight; For majority of the movie the character is Harvey Dent (Aaron Eckhart), a gentle natured attorney who takes a villainous turn after becoming disfigured on one half of his face. It could be said, that in an attempt to deal with his disfiguration Dent becomes ‘Two-Face’, a man who relies on the toss of a coin to decide his and his victims fates. It explores dual-personalities which is further emphasised by the two sides of his face- one damaged, one un-damaged. For the viewer, his actions are a lot more powerful because we knew what the man was like ‘pre-villain’. The audience is able to sympathise with the character regardless of his villainous behaviour because they understand his motives and consequent actions.

Cassandra Clare is an author who I believe is great at developing her villains. In ‘Clockwork Angel’ and ‘Clockwork Prince’ her characters come up against a villain who has a ‘right’ to his actions. The reader can sympathise with him and understand his hatred of the Shadow Hunters.This adds a depth to his character that enriches the whole book. The struggle between the Magister and the Shadow Hunters takes on new meaning, and the reader can relate to the book and the ‘world’ they are reading a lot better. Clare also turns a character from the first book into a ‘traitor’ in the second. However, as a reader – I could never bring myself to dislike the character for her actions, because her motives were clearly explained and explicit. Many villains are, or have once been victims themselves.

In the integrated short story collection, Possessing Freedom (March 2012), I explored this concept through the narration of our spectral villain, Faye. Although she has sociopathic tendencies and a seemingly keen disregard or respect for human life, the reader is encouraged to understand Faye, to see from her perspective, to empathise.

In a bid to live again, the ghost Faye harms many people as she tries to perfect the act of possession.

Here is a small snippet from the last ‘chapter’ or story of the book:

I straighten, feeling more like myself. “I did what I had to do”.

Jared finally speaks up, “You sound just like Philip- deranged” if I didn’t know better I’d say that his voice sounds almost sympathetic.

Anger spurts to life inside me. “You think I’m insane? I’ll tell you what’s insane; death. What kind of a world do we live in if so many young people can die and be reduced to nothing more than whispers in the wind?”

I clench my fists as my determination hardens.

“Death is insanity, my desire to live is the sanest wish I’ve ever had”

My advice is to love your villains as much as you love your heroic characters, regardless if one is going to kill or harm the other. I believe it makes for a deeper connection with your readers and a more ‘fleshed out’ and well-rounded character.

For further reading, check out this article by Ruth D. Kerce on ‘Writing the Effective Villain’ http://theromanceclub.com/writers/articles/article0042.htm

***

Belinda Dorio author website: www.belindadorio.com.au

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